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I don't know how much you already know but here goes. There are many variations of braking systems out there but here's a typical one that's easy to understand:
The essential components of a vehicle braking system include the reservoir, the master cylinder, the brake lines, the brake mechanisms, the brake pads, the rotors/drums and obviously the wheels. Before moving on, here's a short definition of each:
Reservoir - Stores the brake fluid (at a level higher than the rest of the system) and is also designed to help reduce air from entering the system.
Master Cylinder - Takes input from the brake pedal (and from the engine in power-assisted brakes) moving a piston which distributes the fluid to each of the four brake mechanisms.
Brake lines - The small fluid lines which transmit the fluid pressure provided by the master cylinder to the calipers/drums.
Brake Mechanisms - There are typically two types of brakes use on most vehicles today: disk brakes and drum brakes. Both work by using the fluid pressure from the brake lines to move pistons which either compress the brake pads against the outside of the rotors (disk brakes) or expand them inside the wheel's drum (drum brakes)...increasing angular resistance on the wheels which causes them to slow down.
Brake Pads - This is somewhat obvious...they are there to take the pressure from the brake mechanism and apply it to the rotors...they are designed to wear over time and be replaced.
Rotors/Drums - The portion of the wheels in which the pads apply pressure.
In essence, this is a (closed) hydraulic braking system. The brake fluid acts to transmit the pressure provided by the master cylinder (in response to the brake pedal) through the brake lines and to the brakes. The brakes themselves use this pressure to move the their pistons...which applies a large amount of pressure to the pads....which pushes on the rotors/drums...and slows down the wheels.
I hope this helps!
Thank you very much! The way that my dad explained it didn't make much sense to me so this helps a lot!