Choose the Right Air Dryer Cartridge to Protect Your Brakes

MHC Service Department

Maintaining a clear and dry air supply is vital for superior, year-round performance of any truck’s air brake system. Choosing a high-quality air dryer cartridge will help protect your truck and lower the risk for air and braking system failure.

The overall quality of your air dryer is determined by two things: the desiccant and the crimp. When it comes to the desiccant, it’s both the quality and quantity that count.

The desiccant
The desiccant is the substance in the can of the air dryer cartridge that absorbs water and oil. Water and oil are purged from the system periodically through an automatic blast of air through the cartridge. Over time, the desiccant “beads” lose their effectiveness, which is why the cartridge needs to be replaced annually.

The quality and quantity of the desiccant determine how much moisture and oil it can remove from the system, as well as how many “cycles” of purging the cartridge can perform before its effectiveness is reduced. Lower quality beads are approximately 30% less effective than new, high-quality beads. Some product lines will also use less desiccant to reduce the production cost. This can be difficult to determine, but simply weighing the cartridge may provide some insight as to the quality of desiccant.

The crimp
The crimp is the other essential aspect of determining the quality of your air dryer cartridge. A quality crimp keeps the can from leaking air, preventing your compressor from working harder and creating more wear on your engine.

How it works
Trucks with air brakes have an air compressor on the engine. The compressor keeps the air tanks full, so there’s always air available to stop your truck. Air is heated as its compressed, and it cools as it travels through the discharge line to your truck’s air tank.

The cooling results in condensation creating pools of water in the bottom of the air tank. The water also contains oil from the compressor and any contaminants that made it through the compressor’s air filter. Your air dryer cartridge’s job is to eliminate water and contaminants from the air system, preventing rust from damaging your valves and other components.

Depending on your application, you should replace your air dryer cartridge annually to ensure optimum performance. Visit your local MHC dealer for more information on your truck maintenance and air dryer cartridges.

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