Do you know when the first car was built? Do you know who built the first automobile? Would you guess, Henry Ford? Try again. Do you know by what means they used to stop that car? We know the brakes on the vehicles we drive today are quite different from those back in the 1800s.

While knowing the history of the automobile is interesting, knowing how they work is also interesting. The automotive brake or to be more specific, the drum brake is what this instruction is designed to review. In this instruction, we will begin by briefly looking at the history of automobile brakes and then learn how drum brakes work. While disk brakes can be easier to understand, are becoming more and more popular, especially on the rear tires, drum brakes, to some can be a challenge. The purpose of this lesson is to provide you with resources and encourage you to search more additional resources that will help you gain a mental moving picture of how the drum brake works.


In this instructional module, you will:

  • Know a brief history of automobile brakes.

  • Have a minimum of 8 web resources that provide instructions of drum brakes.

  • Develop a mental moving picture of how drum brakes work.


To complete this learning activity, each student will need:

  1. Access to a computer with internet connection capabilities.

  2. A strong desire to learn.


This instruction is divided into several steps. It is recommended that you follow each step in the following order:

Step 1: Review the history of automotive brakes:
The ability to stop a moving object has been around for centuries. Review the history of brakes to learn how they have changed over time.

The following is a brief history of automotive brakes.
Brief Brake History

You are encouraged to search for additional web sites that provide information on the history of brakes.

Step 2: Drum brake resources:
Find 8 different web sites that teach or show how drum brakes work. Each of these sites should be comprehensive in nature and have clearly written instructions with much detail. Web sites used in this instruction are not to be counted as part of your eight web sites.

Step 3: How drum brakes work:
To begin painting your mental moving picture of how drum brakes work, refer to the How it works brake drum 1 web site.

How it works-Brake Drum 1

Pay close attention to Figure 5 Drum drake in operation, Figure 7 Drum brake adjuster in operation, and Figure 8 Emergency brake in operation, to gain a better understanding of how each of these components work.

Step 4: How drum brakes work Part II:
Refer to your braking system web site:

Your Brake System

Use the menus on the left side to read more detailed information.

Step 5: Problems & Solutions:
One of the main purposes of learning more about brakes, is knowing how to repair them. When a customer comes into your shop and describes a problem, you want to feel confident in knowing how to solve that problem.

Refer to Brake Problems & Solutions for help in this area.

Brake Problems and Solutions

Step 6: Test your knowledge:
The following web site will help increase your knowledge of brakes in general.

Test your brake knowledge.

Test your brake knowledge


The assessment portion of this module will be completed in the classroom and will consist of three parts:

  1. Write a reflection paper (no more than 2 pages) on the history of automotive brakes.

  2. List each of the 8 web site resources as described in step 2 and how they relate to drum brakes (no more than 2 pages).

  3. Brake Drum quiz: Your instructor will quiz you on each of the components of the drum brake assembly. Questions will be taken out of the above mentioned web site reviews, your text book, and in-shop assignments.

Refer to the course syllabus for the assignment competition and quiz date.