Summer Brake Check

This post was written by ghoj on July 2, 2013
Posted Under: Tractor Trailer Parts,Trailer Brakes

Traffic Jam

Summertime has come at last, a glorious time of cookouts and lounging by the pool in the blistering heat sipping on cool drinks. Some of us even weather the trip down to the beach on the packed highways and byways full of cars racing to get to the sand and the smell of salt water and fried food. What people don’t realize is that this is a truck driver’s worst nightmare. Roads full of cars bogging them down on their journey to pick up or drop off their scheduled load.

During the summertime the braking systems on tractor trailers take a beating. It isn’t just the ominous ‘gator’ with its glistening silver belted teeth waiting to eat your car tire that you need to worry about, it’s the tractor trailer who’s brakes suddenly decided to stop working on the trailer. Suddenly a fifty thousand pound wall is moving at you and the brakes only work on the tractor, effectively halving the stopping speed and power of one of these massive mountains of metal and fiberglass. Heaven only help you if you cut one off and his brakes don’t work, you won’t know what hit you.


So what, as a driver, can be done about the brakes on trailers to keep them working consistently and effectively? First you should do your standard walk around pre-trip inspection, if you hear any leaks or see any visual damage done to either the red or blue airlines linking the truck and trailer together. Check your belly lines to see if there is any visual wear or if one of the springs has broken to let them drag. D.O.T. checks these lines first as well and who really wants that ticket?

If you hear any leaks around your trailer tandems, odds are it could be either a line going or coming from an airbag or brake chamber. The same can be said if you hear a leak coming from the red and yellow parking brake on your dash when the trailer is attached, this can many times be a brake chamber back-feeding out through the valve in the dash.

Your brake shoes and drums themselves need to be inspected as well as the slack adjusters and s-cams that keep them working properly. These can fail without there ever being an indication that there was a thing wrong in the first place. Always check to see any damage done.

Nobody wants to be faced with the decision to hit a car that cut them off or roll their trailer on the shoulder because the brakes decided not to work. Check everything, keep an eye on it even if you think it is perfectly fine.

Summer is supposed to be about beaches and relaxation, not accidents and regret. Do what you can now to keep yourself and everyone else happy and safe this summer!

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