Regular brake maintenance can help prevent unscheduled repairs.  -  Photo: Jim Park

Regular brake maintenance can help prevent unscheduled repairs.

Photo: Jim Park

The idea of doing brake maintenance the right way could take many forms, but the ultimate proof of a successful approach to maintenance would be minimizing the number of unscheduled repairs between regularly scheduled preventive maintenance intervals.   

“When doing a preventative maintenance inspection, so many people try to get a little more out of their brakes; run a little farther between brake jobs,” says Darry Stuart, president of DWS Fleet Management Services. “And that results in a repair in between PMs.”

That means a fleet not only has the repair to worry about, but also needs to deal with a driver out of service and what to do about getting the load where it needs to go.

“Putting off a brake job just to squeeze a few extra miles out of a part is a bad idea,” Stuart says. “With the price of trucks today who gives a rat’s tail about the cost of a brake shoe?”

The question maintenance people should be asking is not how much farther they can push the part, but will it make it to the next PM, Stuart believes. “It's really not about how long brakes last. It's about vehicle utilization.”

Avoid These Truck Brake Maintenance Mistakes

Here are a few ill-conceived ideas that might save a few bucks on a PM, but will cost significantly more in the long run:

  • Allowing linings, drums, cams, bushings, or slack adjusters to become worn to their limits.
  • Using mismatched parts or the wrong parts in the same axle or axle group.
  • Reusing worn-out parts.
  • Using lining thickness as the only gauge to determine when brake work is required.
  • Using cheap parts that do not fit the truck’s performance profile.
  • Assuming if everything at the wheel-end looks good, it probably is.
About the author
Jim Park

Jim Park

Equipment Editor

A truck driver and owner-operator for 20 years before becoming a trucking journalist, Jim Park maintains his commercial driver’s license and brings a real-world perspective to Test Drives, as well as to features about equipment spec’ing and trends, maintenance and drivers. His On the Spot videos bring a new dimension to his trucking reporting. And he's the primary host of the HDT Talks Trucking videocast/podcast.

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