This year’s Brake Safety Week is scheduled for Aug. 22-28, 2021. Throughout the week, inspectors will conduct North American Standard Inspections on commercial motor vehicles, specifically focusing on braking systems.
Last year, brake system violations accounted for around 39 percent of all vehicles’ out of service conditions. Faulty brakes were the third most cited factor in fatal commercial motor vehicle crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Brake Safety Week dates are shared in advance as a reminder to drivers proactively check brakes. Here are a few of the most common areas for brake violations and how to stay road ready:
Brake Pedal (Valve and Treadle Assembly) Inspection
Due to the brake pedal’s location, which is mounted on the bed floor, a small amount of corrosion is expected. However, with age, larger amounts of corrosion can cause pitting or material reduction that can lead to brake malfunction and failure. Extensive corrosion or debris can prevent full valve return or treadle, causing premature brake wear and possible overheating.
- Treadle/pedal sticks, binds or grabs during application or release
- Rear stop lights are on after the foot releases the treadle, indicating there is no brake valve/mounting plate detected.
- Pivot pin not fully engaged and held in place between the two mounting plate ears
- Inspect your brake pedal by visually checking the condition of the mounting plate for cracks and damage.
- Look for excessive corrosion. If excess corrosion is suspected, inspect with the brakes released (foot-off) and confirm the brake lamps are off.
- Lift on the treadle by hand and listen for air exhausting from the brake foot valve.
Air Disc Brakes
These are broken into two systems: exposed pushrod and direct mounted. Exposed pushrod style is rare and usually found in order models; making direct-mounted the most common brake chamber style.
- Oil or grease contamination on the brake rotor and pad
- Excessive rust on a rotors is usually an indication of an inoperative air disc brake. Check by applying and releasing the break to see if there is any caliper movement during application.
- Look for obvious loose parts (like chamber and caliper mounting bolts) or broken or cracked air hoses. Check to make sure brake hoses and cables are properly secured throughout normal operation.
- At each wheel end check for loose parts, broken/cracked air hoses and system leaks. Ensure that both brake hoses and cables are secure and follow the caliper during operations.
- Check that brake pad hold-down springs and retaining bars are in the correct position.
- Ensure springs in the parking brake chambers can be released in position. Check that brake chambers are the same size and on the same axles. This can be done by looking at the embossment on the chamber.
These minimize wheel lockup and prevent skidding, helping drivers maintain directional control during stops on low-traction surfaces, emergency stops and reduce potential trailer swing outs. Anti-lock brakes only activate during specific conditions making it hard to know if they are working correctly until an emergency. Make sure to check the inspection bulletins to see if your vehicle is exempt from ABS inspection before continuing.
- ABS malfunction lamps do not come on after disconnecting and reconnecting electrical cables
- ABS malfunction lamps come on and stay on with towed units, causing the system to malfunction
- ABS lamp comes on and stays on with no towed unit attached, the trailer ABS malfunction map is imperative and stays on with no faults from towed vehicles
- Inspecting ABS on a single-unit vehicle is relatively straightforward. First, determine the date of manufacturing to see if your vehicle is equipped with ABS and if so, observe the ABS malfunction lamp.
- Start the engine and observe the ABS malfunction lamp for the power unit on the dashboard. The light should come on, then turn off after a few seconds.
- Starting with the ignition switch off, start the engine and immediately apply the service brake pedal and hold, while observing the operation of the ABS malfunction lamps on the towed units.
Functioning brakes are a vital part of driving safely. MHC’s 7-day, 24-hour service is there to help keep your vehicle running smoothly. For more information on how to prepare for Brake Safety week visit CVSA’s website.