August 30, 2023

A Guide To Heavy-Duty Truck Brake System Maintenance

Essential for road safety, maintaining truck brakes prevents accidents by ensuring strong, reliable braking. This guide ensures safer heavy-duty braking.

A Guide To Heavy-Duty Truck Brake System Maintenance

The braking system is one of the most important aspects of safety in heavy-duty trucks. For the sake of everyone on the road, regular brake inspections and repairs are mandatory. Reduced braking efficiency, longer stopping distances, and increased risk of collisions can result from putting off brake system maintenance. This tutorial will cover the essentials of maintaining the braking system on a heavy-duty vehicle and provide helpful advice for keeping everyone on the road safe.

How Heavy-Duty Brakes Work

In both medium-duty and heavy-duty diesel trucks, air plays a vital role in initiating the brake systems. This air is carefully compressed, dried, and filtered to ensure optimal performance and avoid contamination. It's crucial that the air is free from moisture and impurities to minimize wear and tear, as well as to prevent freezing—ensuring both longevity and safety. 

When activated, this prepared air pushes against a diaphragm, triggering a push rod that sets the whole brake system in motion. Our skilled team at Kenfield Services is well-equipped to assess and repair any elements involved in activating your truck's brakes. We also meticulously examine the S-cam, slack adjuster, and brake shoes—key components that create the necessary friction against the brake drum to safely halt your heavy-duty truck.

Perform Routine Checks 

The basis of good braking system maintenance is routine checks. Brake drums, brake chambers,  air compressors, and slack adjusters should all be checked for corrosion and wear. Examine the springs for any signs of damage. Frequent checks help find potential problems before they worsen and affect stopping power. 

Brake Chambers 

Damaged or malfunctioning brake chambers start with installation problems. In many cases, the push rod may stick out by ¾ to 1 inch but can get pushed all the way with some hand or leg pressure. When the pushrod is the issue, it means that its been installed on the wrong axle bracket holes. Another issue may be incorrect slack adjuster lengths, creating the inability to to fully retract the push rod. 

Brake Shoe Wear and Importance of Lining

Brake shoes play a critical role in creating the friction needed to halt your truck by pressing against the brake drum. Their lifespan can be influenced by the quality of the parts, driving habits, and overall mileage. Better quality usually means a longer lifespan, but even the best brake shoes will wear down with extensive use. Reduce excessive and aggressive braking to extend brake drum longevity. Neglecting regular brake maintenance increases the likelihood of needing a brake shoe replacement. Signs of wear include grinding noises, reduced stopping power, and pedal vibrations.

Issues with Airlines and Dryers

The air system is vital for your truck's braking. Problems with air lines and air dryers are common and can make driving risky. Airlines channel air from the tanks to the service chambers, and air dryers remove moisture to prevent freezing.

Common Air Compressor Failures

Air brakes generally require a pressure of 100-120 PSI for optimal function. When the air compressor malfunctions, it fails to supply the required air, draining your air tank with each braking action. This can lead to brake lockup or loss of control. Often, issues are related to faulty valves. For instance, a stuck unloader valve can prevent the compressor from operating efficiently. Fixes include air leak inspections, tighten loose joints, and cleaning the compressor to remove dirt and grime that could cause damage.

Adjusting Slack Adjusters

Slack adjusters compensate for the wear and tear on your brake shoes. If you find you need to apply more force on the pedal for effective braking, it's probably time for a calibration. Routine maintenance of slack adjusters can also help identify when brake shoes are due for a replacement.

Regular Inspection for Return Springs

Return springs are essential for retracting brake shoes away from the brake drum. These springs can degrade over time. Experienced mechanics ensure these springs are routinely inspected and replaced if any damage is noted.

Check tire condition 

Brake system performance is indirectly affected by tire and wheel maintenance. Distributing braking forces uniformly and ensuring consistent braking performance is aided by proper tire inflation, tire rotations, and wheel alignment. Check the tires for damage, uneven tread, and bulges. The braking system will last longer if you keep the tires properly inflated and correctly alignment.

Final words 

Heavy-duty vehicles cannot be relied upon for either their safety or their performance without regular braking system maintenance. By adhering to Kenfield Services recommendations, fleet managers and vehicle owners can guarantee proper braking performance, lessen the likelihood of accidents, and put the safety of drivers and passengers first. Keep in mind that the time and money spent on preventative braking system maintenance is money well spent on increased safety, dependability, and peace of mind.

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Kenfield Services provides top-rated mobile truck repair & fleet services in Eastern New York. Based in Pattersonville, we service Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park, & more!

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