The control of unsteady thermal processes in brake systems is a fundamental requisite for traffic safety and functional reliability. Electroanalogue and numerical methods of analysis permit much earlier modification of loading characteristics of brakes during design development than do purely experimental means; the paper describes the development of these methods and demonstrates how they yield more extensive understanding of thermodynamic processes in brakes. However, investigations involving technical measurements of pre-optimized variables remain quite important for obtaining input characteristics and for confirming theoretical results. Electroanalogue and numerical methods yield isothermal characteristics which, along with mechanical loading values, serve as input values for stress and deformation analyses. These analyses in turn can predict reliability, safety and economy characteristics of brake systems. Economic advantages of this analytical approach encompass functional improvements with simultaneous saving of developmental time and avoidance of unjustified material usage.