The importance of an adequate braking system cannot be understated. It's quite literally the only thing that will stop your car from running into things.
DISCLAIMER: As always, follow all safety protocols. Don't undertake this task if you aren't comfortable with it and fully understand it. You are ultimately responsible for anything you do. Neither Redpants, LLC or myself is responsible or liable for anything that may occur.
The Basics of Brakes
Let's go over the basic components of a braking system. There's a ton of information online for all of this, so I'm just going to cover a few main topics that are relevant to our cars and the options we have for our brakes.
There are several components within the brakes that we need to know about before we can discuss them. This section will give a very brief description of each, and then we'll discuss a few of them in much more detail in the following pages of this article.
Brake pads are a maintenance item that need to be replaced once the friction material is worn down to a certain level. This is where you have most of your customization options.
Brake pads are held in the caliper by retention pins and spring clips.
The rotors (or discs) are mounted inside your wheels, and they spin at the same rate. When you press the brake pedal, the brake pads clamp down on the spinning rotors, which slows their rotation speed and therefore that of the wheels and tires, thus slowing down the car.
Brake rotors are mounted on the lugs and held in place by the wheels and lug nuts.
Brake systems use fluid to transmit the braking pressure you apply to the brakes. This isn't a direct thing, though. Rather, the master cylinder amplifies the input you give the brake pedal and pressurizes the brake lines. Fluid doesn't compress, so the pressure is transmitted into pistons inside the brake caliper, and those pistons press the pads against the rotors.
Brake fluid is added to the system through the master cylinder. It is carried by the brake lines to the calipers. It exits the system from the bleed nipples on each caliper.
Brake lines are the metal tubes and rubber hoses that hold the brake fluid. There are metal tubes that are fixed in place running from the master cylinder to each wheel well. Then there are rubber hoses going from the metal tubes to the calipers. The rubber hoses are necessary because the lines need to flex and move as the wheels do.
The brake calipers are the "bodies" of the brakes. There are pistons inside the calipers, and these press the brake pads into the brake rotor when you press the brake pedal.