Truck drivers know how critical it is to have properly functioning brakes, and they also know the consequences of a brake violation. Out of service (OOS) brake violations result in significant losses in productivity, efficiency, and uptime. Brake maintenance is important because repairs are typically costly, and can easily total $1,000 or more.
I don’t have to be the one to tell you that if your truck is deemed unsafe for driving, it will require a tow, which is, even more money. Independents with a history of violations and downtime may even lose out on potential business.
With the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Week coming in September, now is a perfect time for truck drivers to brush up on brake maintenance tips.
Brake Check Pop Quiz
On May 4, 2016, the CSVA conducted an unannounced brake check day in 31 participating states and Canadian provinces and territories. Brakes were checked on a total of 6,128 commercial motor vehicles, results show that drivers need to pay more attention to routine brake maintenance.
Brake-related violations are often cited, and usually the largest category of OOS violations. During the inspections, 12.4 percent of vehicles were placed OOS for brake violations.
Brake systems that are poorly maintained or improperly installed result in reduced braking capability and an increase in stopping distance. This puts the driver and the public in the way of danger.
The unannounced brake-check day allows safety enforcement officers to focus on brake maintenance and inspections. They are able to emphasize the importance of maintaining your brake system.
Brake Maintenance Tips for Drivers
To save on costs and avoid downtime, drivers need to look to extend their brake system’s life. Knowing the signs to look for during pre- and post-trip inspections can help you identify issues before violations occur.
When looking at braking components, if you see rust streaks, this could indicate loose components. You should be looking for oil stains, air lines rubbing on frame rails, or missing seals. Pay attention to any loose, worn, or broken brake components. Also look at the air system looking for contamination or water.
Check for loose or hanging parts that may get caught on debris on the road. Pay attention to and measure the thickness of your brake pads. Also, inspect your rotors for cracks every 4 to 6 months.
Some fleet managers will suggest drivers build pressure in the air system while keeping the parking brake on. If you walk around the truck, you should be able to hear any leaks. Is the anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light on?
When you take the time to focus on your brake maintenance, you stay ahead of inspectors and avoid out of service violations. If you have maintenance tips or tricks that you can share with other drivers, let us know in the comments below!