The brakes are without a doubt the most important safety feature of a semi-truck, given the massive amount of momentum of these multi-ton vehicles. For that reason, it is important to have your brakes regularly serviced and inspected by an experienced service provider. A technician will be able to keep your brakes properly adjusted and change out worn down parts as necessary.
However, just because you schedule regular brake inspections, that doesn’t mean that you should overlook certain important maintenance tasks that you yourself can perform. If you would like to learn more about what it takes to keep your truck’s brakes in tip-top shape, read on. This article will outline three key aspects of brake maintenance.
Keep Your Slack Adjusters Greased
As you probably know, truck brakes progressively wear down over time. This results in an increasing amount of slack in the brake’s stroke. In order to keep the brakes functioning within legal standards, virtually all trucks contain a type of component known as the slack adjuster.
The role of the slack adjuster is fairly self-explanatory—it acts to take up any slack present in the brake stroke. There are two main types of slack adjusters: manual adjusters and automatic adjusters. As their name would imply, manual adjusters have to be adjusted by hand in order to keep the slack within appropriate limits.
Automatic adjusters, on the other hand, correct the amount of slack independently. Both types of adjusters will fail to work as designed unless they are properly greased. The key here is to maintain adequate grease levels, and also to ensure that the grease in the slack adjuster is clean and free of debris or impurities.
It is thus vital that you know where your slack adjuster grease ports are located. Always use the highest quality of grease when re-greasing a slack adjuster, as low-quality varieties will degrade and wash out more quickly. Be sure to continue pumping new grease into the port until all of the old grease has been purged.
Ensure Proper Air Compression Pressure Gauge Levels
A semi truck’s brake system relies on air pressure to initiate the act of stopping. Too little pressure will make it difficult to bring your truck to a safe stop. Being aware of your vehicle’s so-called application pressure is therefore of the utmost importance. Fortunately, a dedicated dash dial makes it easy to monitor pressure levels.
In the best case scenario, your application pressure should fall into a range somewhere between 100 and 125 psi. Levels between 100 and 60 psi are sub-par but acceptable—be sure to have the pressure serviced as soon as possible. Levels below 60 psi are considered unacceptable; you should never operate the truck with an application pressure level in this range.
It is also important to be aware of any tendencies of the application pressure to change or decrease in value. If you have noticed that your pressure is consistently dropping, it is important to have your brakes serviced at your earliest convenience.
Visually Inspect Brake Linings and Hoses
It is important to make a visual inspection of your brake linings and hoses on a frequent basis—preferably each time you use your truck for a serious haul. If you notice that the linings are shiny or wet with lubricant, this is a problem that should be addressed before using your truck. Likewise, it is important that the linings retain a thickness of at least one-quarter inch.
Also pay attention to the air hoses. These are the brake’s power source. Cracks, degradation, or excessive wear may compromise the ability to use your brakes correctly. If you notice any sort of damage to the hoses, be sure to get your truck to a professional at once.
If you experience any problems with the brake system in your semi-truck, contact the experts at Godfrey Brake Service & Supply.