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Air Brake Systems for Trucks and Trailers

Truck and Trailer Air Brake Systems: Everything You Need to Know

When you need aftermarket parts for trucks and buses, brake parts are among the most critical and require particular care. Heavy vehicles operate with air brakes and keeping the air brake system well-maintained and functioning safely requires quality replacement parts for the brake controls, brake actuators and the friction products (brake pads or brake linings).

Air brake systems consist of many components and fittings, all of which need to be in good working order. Let’s take a look at why air brakes are used in trucks and some of the parts and fittings you need to be aware of.

The benefits of air brakes

Light and medium-duty Japanese trucks use hydraulic brake systems with specially adapted wedge brake actuators. However, European, American and even Japanese heavy vehicles use air brakes because they are fail-safe and more reliable than hydraulic braking systems. In hydraulic brake systems, brake fluid can leak and this can cause the brakes to fail.

Heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses and trailers also carry a lot of weight and need brakes that can handle a heavier workload, including the high cycle braking sometimes required with ABS and EBS brake operation. Compressed air can be constantly produced and stored in air tanks, meaning there is virtually no interruption to the air supply for the brake system even under severe operating conditions.

Air brake system maintenance

It’s likely that you won’t be doing all of the maintenance and parts replacement yourself, rather using a professional diesel mechanic for the work. But it’s important to understand that brake system maintenance can reduce downtime because it prevents unexpected parts failures that can result in long periods in the workshop.

A common inspection of air brake systems should include:

· Checking for valve failure in the primary and secondary circuit

· Check for dirt and debris between the brake lining or brake pad and the braking surface (and also on rubber boots and seals as these can be indicators of accelerated wear)

· Look for any breakages or leaks

· Ensure that push rods and slack adjusters or brake calipers are working properly

· Look for broken or weak springs

· Make sure the brake lining or brake pad has no cracked or damaged friction material

· Inspect for uneven wear

Types of air fittings for trucks and trailers with air brake systems

You should always look for quality parts when parts need to be replaced. All parts you use should meet or exceed the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications. Some of the parts that you may need to replace include:

· Air brake tubes

· Brass hardware

· Composite fittings

· Couplings

· DOT compression fittings

· DOT push to connect fittings

If you don’t perform the maintenance yourself, you should still always have a say in the parts used for repairs. Speak to your truck mechanic about parts options, and make sure they understand you want to use high-quality replacement parts. Choosing quality truck parts not only makes your air brake system more reliable but also decreases the frequency of repairs which in turn means less downtime. So stay on the road for longer with the best aftermarket parts for trucks.

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