Safety first: Tips for conducting a brake inspection

News Jason Cannon May 10, 2013

You’re driving on the interstate in a major city. There’s some open road in front of you, and a Class 8 unit creeping up in your rearview mirror. Both of you are moving at safe speeds, slightly below the posted speed limit, but traffic is heavy and other motorists aren’t as responsible.

Without warning, a car cuts in front you. No turn signal, no wave, just right past your front left fender and into your lane. If that’s not enough, as soon as they cut you off traffic stalls and they’re forced to slow down. You hit the brakes. You have to.

Through no fault of your own, you’ve made the brakes in the truck behind you the most important thing in your world.

If they work, you never notice them. The truck stops, the car in front of you speeds up again and you’re on your way.

But what if they don’t?

In situations like this, the importance of maintaining a truck’s braking system is obvious. For service facilities that perform braking system maintenance and repairs, scenarios like this are important reminders of what’s at stake every time they work on a vehicle.

The braking system doesn’t just stop the truck — it keeps all of us safe.

“I think there is a lot of awareness right now about braking systems, and the importance of maintaining those systems, and I think that awareness is growing,” says Tom Runels, engineering manager, drum brakes at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake.

“Safety is so important,” adds Dennis Griffin, product manager for commercial vehicle friction at Federal-Mogul. “It’s common sense. If you are a driver, you have to be able to stop.”

The best way for fleets and owner-operators to keep their truck brakes safely working is to conduct regular brake inspections, checking the entire wheel-end system and its components for wear, faulty parts and early signs of breakdowns.

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