Why Commercial Vehicles Need Consistent Brake Maintenance

Consistent brake maintenance is essential for commercial vehicles that spend long hours on the road hauling heavy loads. Implementing pre- and post-trip inspections can help you prevent excess wear and address common brake issues before they become costly problems.

Understanding Brake Systems

Air brake systems: Your truck’s engine powers the brake compressor, which pressurizes air from the atmosphere. That air is stored in reservoirs until you press on the brake pedal and release it into brake chambers on each wheel. The air forces push rods outward to move slack adjusters and brake shoes or pads. That causes friction on the brake drum or rotor, slowing your vehicle.

Hydraulic brake systems: Pressing on the brake pedal activates the cylinder that contains pressurized hydraulic fluid. The fluid travels through the brake lines to the wheels, activating calipers or wheel cylinders. The brake shoes make contact with the drum or disc (depending on the system) and generate friction to slow wheel rotation.

Common Brake Issues

Air leaks: A loss of air pressure can reduce your vehicle’s braking ability. Hissing sounds and increased braking distance may indicate an air leak.

Brake fade: Overheating from a downhill descent or heavy braking can lead to brake fade. You may notice spongy brakes or a burning smell.

Corrosion or rust: Road salt, moisture, dust and chemicals can build up on your brake components, resulting in poor braking or brake failure on the road.

Drum or rotor wear: Excessive friction and heat buildup from brake pads or shoes can result in excess mechanical wear. Uneven braking is a common sign of drum or rotor wear.

Pad or shoe wear: Brake pads and shoes can lose their effectiveness with wear, so they require regular replacement. They may need to be changed if your truck pulls to one side while braking.

Brake system imbalance: Wear and tear, improper adjustments and air leaks can cause braking issues between wheels.

Regular Commercial Brake Inspection and Maintenance

Establishing a maintenance routine can help you ensure your fleet complies with safety standards and operational regulations. It also protects your bottom line by reducing the risk of unexpected repairs and replacements.

Brake Maintenance Tips

Inspections: Check for damaged or loose components before and after each haul, especially if you drive daily. Look for cracks in brake rotors or drums. Monitor moisture buildup in air brake systems to ensure the seals are working.

Brake fluid: Look in the fluid reservoir before long trips and watch for signs of leaks. Replace brake fluid if it’s discolored or contaminated.

Hoses and lining: Pay attention to cracks and deformities. All hoses and linings should be at least ¼ inch thick to maintain optimum brake performance.

Lubrication: Calipers, pins and bushings require proper lubrication to prevent sticking and unnecessary friction.

Cleanings: Remove dirt and debris from brake components after each drive to prevent rust and corrosion and improve the longevity of your vehicle’s performance.

How Does Brake Maintenance Affect Safety and Performance?

Brake maintenance helps protect your drivers and others on the road. It can be difficult to control driving speed and make emergency maneuvers without well-maintained brakes. That increases the risk of accidents, injuries and costly downtime.

Paying attention to the rate of wear on mechanical components allows you to make necessary adjustments to optimize fleet performance. That can increase the lifespan of your commercial vehicles and protect your bottom line.

Tips for Staying Compliant

  • Stay current on brake system regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and state and federal departments of transportation.
  • Conduct routine inspections based on manufacturer guidelines.
  • Keep detailed records of each inspection and service appointment to demonstrate your compliance.
  • Adjust your brakes according to your manufacturer’s standards.
  • Train your drivers on proper braking techniques.
  • Address compliance issues promptly.
  • Partner with qualified professionals and create a maintenance schedule.

Brake Maintenance and Repairs at Bauer Built

Whether you need a quick repair or a comprehensive inspection, the experts at Bauer Built have you covered. Schedule comprehensive brake service for your commercial fleet at a Bauer Built location near you.

Categories: Bauer Built Blog