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Disc vs Drum Brakes – Which Are Better and Cost Less?

Can you tell the difference between disc brakes and drum brakes?

In this article, we’ll explain what sets one apart from the other and their usefulness during emergency situations.

What Are Drum Brakes?

drum brakes parts

Drum brakes are round in shape and resemble the appearance of a basic drum instrument. They contain brake shoes to stop your vehicle, when brake is activated.

What Are Disc Brakes?

disc brakes

Unlike drum brakes, they use rotors and calipers with brake pads attached to the wheel exterior, which halt your vehicle when braking.


disc vs drum brakes 2

Brake Overheating

brake overheating

Since drum brakes are composed of the cover or outer part and the inner frame that conceal the brake shoes and other parts, they have a tendency to overheat quickly, especially during long braking periods when you turn or when needing to go down very steep terrains.

On the contrary, disc brakes with their rotors and calipers exposed to open air, the chances of heat concentration is reduced to help your vehicle sustain its braking capacity. This is also one of the reasons why disc brakes have a longer resistance against wear and tear.

Wet Weather Braking

wet weather braking
Diagram shows that as the weather worsens, your vehicle’s braking effectiveness lessens, regardless of the same speed level you’re in.

When your vehicle moves on a wet surface, your wheel and tire traction is reduced. The issue with drum brakes is they can store mud and water which will further compromise your vehicle’s braking capability that will cause you to slide on wet terrains, more so when you find yourself in deep water puddles.

At least with disc brakes, since they aren’t hidden in a case, their rotors can easily shake off mud and water that cling to them. This gives them more or less the self-cleaning capacity which contributes to your tire’s sipes or cuts that automatically drain mud and water, giving you better traction and braking control.

Cost of Brakes


When it comes to price though, drum brakes take the lead in terms of affordability because initial average cost of minor parts replacement is around $100. However, if you’re aiming for an entire drum brake replacement, it will amount to $200-$300+.

See the breakdown of payments below according to

Drum Brakes

Task Whole Drum Brake Replacement Labor Parts Replacement
Price $223-$338 $171-$217 $62-$121

As for disc brakes, a complete replacement is normally more than $250 to less than $750. This is because calipers are the most expensive parts to replace, hitting an initial price of greater than $100 per piece, excluding your vehicle’s brand and features.

See the breakdown of payments below based on

Disc Brakes

Task Whole Disc Brake Replacement Caliper Replacement Replacement Based on Vehicle Brand & Model
Price $300-$800 $130 per piece $1000

Vehicle Usage

vehicle usage

Disc brake replacement might be a tempting idea but if you’re using your ride on a daily basis to go to work and back home, or occasionally visit a friend via a simple road, then there’s no need to ditch your drum brakes because you’ll only be slowing down or stopping your speed under ordinary circumstances.

On the contrary, if you’re using your vehicle in participating to competitions like dune racing and drifting, of course, you can absolutely go ahead with your disc brake option. Bear in mind though, disc brakes are usually placed only on the front wheels because that’s where the braking force mostly takes place.


Even though disc and drum brakes have the same goal of helping you achieve proper braking control, they’re designed and operated in distinct ways. They can either work for or against you depending on how you’ll be using them. Tell us which of the two piques your interest the most by commenting below.



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