When a semi-truck crashes, brake failure is often blamed. However, brakes are designed so that complete brake failure is rare. Instead, what is often called “brake failure” is an indicator of poor brake maintenance. When brakes are poorly maintained, they are often still able to provide braking force, albeit at low levels. A driver may not even notice something is wrong until they find themselves in an emergency that requires a high-level braking force. To avoid these dangerous brake failures, read on to learn the most important parts of maintaining your semi-truck brakes.
Regularly Replace Broken Parts
The first step of maintaining semi-truck brakes is to preserve each part of the braking system. The brake shoes have an indicator built into the pads that let you know when a replacement is necessary. When you replace the brake pads, you should also replace the springs, pins, and bushings. Then, make sure you replace the drums as you replace the shoes.
Grease Slack Adjusters and S Cams
Your semi-truck will have manual or automatic slack adjusters, which keep your brakes in alignment as they are being used. No matter what kind you have, it is crucial to keep them greased well. If they are not greased and maintained, they can seize up, which leads to brake failure.
The slack adjusters also turn a shaft that turns the S cams that push the brake into the drum, stopping the truck. As you maintain the brakes, you will need to check the S cams’ bushings and ensure that they are regularly greased and occasionally changed.
Check the Air Compression Pressure Gauge
Your semi-truck’s air compression pressure gauge needs to read more than 60 psi before you use the truck, and somewhere between 100 to 125 psi is the ideal pressure. If the psi is lower than 60, service the brakes immediately.
Inspect Linings and Hoses
When you maintain the brakes of your semi-truck, inspect all linings and hoses. Make sure they are at least ¼-inch thick. They should also be dry and not soaked with lubricant. Your air hoses need to be checked for wear or cracks; if they are worn or damaged, they need to be changed.
Service Your Brakes Regularly
Semi-truck brakes should be serviced on a routine basis. Brake service can vary based on the truck and the driver, but it is best to inspect the brakes when you change the oil. Regular inspection and maintenance of your brakes ensure that you find and resolve any issues before they become dangerous.
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