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  • Writer's pictureFront Range Compliance

Maintaining Commercial Vehicle Brakes

Arguably one of the most important component of the commercial motor vehicle are the brakes. Your brakes not only allow you to stop the vehicle, but maintain control when driving. Maintaining good brake quality and performing maintenance on them when needed can not only save your company money but also save your drivers' lives.

Mechanic replacing semi brakes
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) requires trucking companies to make sure their vehicles are equipped with working brakes (Section 393.48), adequate warning signals (Section 393.51), and brake performance systems (Section 393.52) among other things. Commercial vehicles must also meet relevant service, parking, and emergency brake requirements. Brakes must be operable at all times and brakes must act on all wheels.

Truck Brake Failure Statistics

  • The most common reason for brake failure is improper maintenance.

  • The second most common cause of brake failure is overuse.

  • Brake problems cause 30% of all truck accidents in the United States.

All brake components have a limited lifetime, towards the end of their lifetime they start to get worn and not work properly. Having a good preventative maintenance program, with brakes being a key aspect, will help prevent against truck brake failures.

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Improper Maintenance

As stated above, improper maintenance is the primary cause of truck brake failures followed closely by over use. Commercial truck braking systems are complex with assemblies containing numerous components, because of this they should be inspected and serviced on a regular basis. Federal law requires truck owners to properly maintain the brakes and keep a log of all inspections and maintenance.

Common Brake Problems From Poor Maintenance:

  • Poorly adjusted brakes.

  • Overheated brakes.

  • Worn brake components.

  • Incorrect air pressure.

  • Worn tires making the brake system work too hard.

  • Hauling heavy cargo may likewise cause brakes to give out prematurely.

  • Adjustment errors. Modern truck brakes are equipped with automatic brake adjusters. When truckers make too many manual adjustments it can cause their clutch mechanisms to give out potentially causing total brake failure.

When to replace/repair commercial vehicle brakes:

  • When you hear loud squealing when brakes are engaged.

  • When brake pedal resistance is lacking.

  • When you engage brakes and the pedal sinks to the floorboards.

  • When air leaks are coming from brakes.

Brakes on all vehicles are only good for a certain amount of miles. It is imperative that the company's maintenance technicians are tracking the miles and brake maintenance is a key point in the company's preventative maintenance program.

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