Hydraulic Brake Systems for Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

Hydraulic brake systems, one of the most important safety features on many road vehicles today, must meet manufacturer and customer requirements in addition to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This course will analyze automotive braking from a system's perspective, emphasizing legal requirements as well as performance expectations such as pedal feel, stopping distance, fade and thermal management. Calculations necessary to predict brake balance and key system sizing variables that contribute to performance will be discussed. Major components of a brake system, including calipers, boosters, master cylinders, drum brakes, and park brakes will be presented in detail highlighting the many design variations. An overview of the chassis control components and operating principles will be presented with an emphasis on ABS, traction control and stability control.

This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 18 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should mail a copy of their course certificate and the $5 student CEU fee to ACTAR, PO Box 1493, North Platte, NE 69103.

What Will You Learn

By attending this seminar, you will be able to:
  • Design a brake system in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
  • Calculate the ideal brake balance for a vehicle under any loading condition
  • Calculate the actual brake balance and brake output for a selected set of brake components and evaluate the effects of changing component parameters
  • Determine the effects of variation in component parameters on the system performance
  • Describe the basic function of major brake components
  • Describe various chassis control systems and their role in vehicle safety
  • Determine the appropriate design variation for a particular application

Is This Course For You

This course is designed for engineers interested or responsible for the specification, prediction and validation of braking system performance. It will also benefit engineers responsible for brake component design by providing insight into the interaction of components and the contribution to system level performance metrics.

Materials Provided

This data is not available at this time

Course Requirements

This data is not available at this time



  • System Level Requirements
    • Emphasis on FMVSS 135 and ECE 13 -- Effects of requirements on design; Tradeoffs with other system requirements; Partial system considerations; Loading conditions
    • Stopping Distance -- Actual vs. magazine; Contributions of subsytems; Effects of driver
    • Thermal management -- Conservation of energy; Abuse schedules; Mountain descents; Design for max speed vs. high use
    • NVH & pedal feel -- Metrics and criteria; Objective techniques
  • Brake Balance and System Output Calculations
    • Ideal brake force derivation
    • Actual brake output
    • Effects of variation, planned and unplanned


  • Workshop - The student will design a brake system for a vehicle of their choice and predict the performance to key system level targets
  • Component Functional Review
    • Brake pedal assembly -- Variable ratio; Adjustable; Composite
    • Brake booster options -- Vacuum; Hydroboost; Active
    • Master cylinder
    • Fluid, pipes, and hoses
    • Proportioning and metering valves
    • Disc brakes -- Fixed; Floating; Multi-piston; Vented; 2-piece


  • Component Functional Review (continued)
    • Drum brakes -- Leading-trailing; Duo-servo; Self-adjusting; Static Brake
    • Parking Brakes -- Foot vs. hand; Cables and tensioning; Drum-in-hat; Caliper mechanisms
  • Workshop - The student will determine the effects of component variation on their design from Day 2
  • Anti-lock Braking Systems
    • Mechanization
    • Performance
    • Dynamic rear proportioning/electronic brake force distribution
  • Advanced Concepts and Technology
    • Panic brake assist
    • Hybrid/regenerative braking
    • Brake-by-wire
    • Electric parking brake