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What Does A Brake Master Cylinder Actually Do?



Picture a brake pedal in your mind. Delve into the relative darkness of that imaginary footwell and push that pedal with your mind foot. In most cars the pedal motion directly pushes a rod (known, funnily enough, as a pushrod) into one end of a sealed Brake Wheel Cylinder filled with fluid, two pistons to displace the fluid, and springs to push back against the main force and return the brake pedal to its resting position when released.

Importantly, there are two exits from this tube. One leads to two diagonally-opposed wheels, while the other leads to the others. The two-line layout is a safety feature that ensures that even if a line should leak, you can still stop – albeit more slowly, with one wheel on each side and each end doing the job.

Let’s assume normal operation. Pressing the brake pedal pushes the two pistons, each sprung separately in a linear piston-spring-piston-spring layout, into the fluid, pushing the liquid down the lines into what are called slave cylinders; usually situated on brake calipers themselves. The slave cylinders then push the friction material onto the rotor.

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