What could be more important on the road than having enough power to pull a full load to its destination? Well, in the trucking industry, having the stopping power to bring that truck and load to a safe stop when you press the brake pedal! Your average brake pad is engineered to last about 50,000 miles, though there are factors that play into their longevity. All regular semi-truck maintenance is important but the brake system is one area you do not want to cut corners on as it can drastically impact your stopping distance. Here we will be looking closer at truck brakes and how long they last.
There are a lot of parts and components that make up and impact your braking system such as the calipers, depending on if you have disc brakes or drum brakes. The brake rotors, bushings, brake fluid, and even the air hoses can impact this.
The first level of inspection in your braking system is just to be aware of your truck’s performance. Use your senses and best judgment and if you feel or hear when something is off. This could be feeling a vibration, hearing squealing, etc. Make sure to act on getting it checked out and not letting it go potentially causing serious damage.
With that said there are regular checks you will want to do to ensure the upkeep of your equipment. In inspecting your brake shoes for how much life they have left you will first need to remember to check not only the brakes on the truck but on the trailer as well. The trailer has its own brakes that tie into your truck’s braking system.
As an overview for a brake inspection on your truck you will want to start by making sure the belt on the air compressor is tight and free of damage. Next, you will need to make sure the slack adjusters do not have a movement of more than one inch. The vehicle needs to have the brakes released and wheels chocked to check this part. Be sure to check brake linings and make sure your low-pressure warning light works. Do this by turning the engine off and putting the key in the on position. You will need to pump the brakes until the air gauge drops below 60 and the warning light and alarm should come on.
Following this, you can build the air pressure up again and then turn off the engine. Next, release the parking brake and you should experience a loss of air pressure, about 2psi in one minute, 4 psi with the combination. Finally set the brake and pull slightly to see if the brakes hold.
There are several factors that will impact the amount of lifespan that you get out of the brakes on your truck. For starters, the amount of use you put on them is the main factor. If you are making a lot of local stops you will need brake parts replaced more frequently than a truck that is going across the country.
The quality of parts used can be a big factor in lifespan. The quality of pad material or the friction material such as semi-metallic or ceramic material can make an impact on both performance as well as life.
Seasonal factors can also be a big factor in the life of your brakes. Hot and cold weather have adverse effects on your brake pads. Your driving style is another factor to keep in mind that will impact brake pad life. Safe and efficient driving habits will lessen brake pad wear and the need for rapid stops, which preserves your semi-truck brake life.
Simply put, this is a commercial vehicle and a bit more complex than a standard brake job on a car. You should get your truck into a certified shop to get your brake maintenance. While some may be advanced enough to carry out this extent of maintenance, these systems are heavy-duty and not an area that you want to leave to chance. If let go too long or repaired incorrectly this could result in brake failure.
It takes a lot more to stop a loaded truck than a normal vehicle so that work needs to be properly carried out. Another factor to consider here is time. A shop with certified mechanics that do this job on a regular basis is going to be able to perform this work much faster and more efficiently than the typical truck driver as well, giving you the ability to get back on the road making money much quicker.
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