What Fleets and Drivers Can Do to Support Safer Highways and Avoid Violations During Roadside Inspections across North America
ELYRIA, Ohio – Sept. 10, 2018 – Picture a 9,800-vehicle convoy: Impressive, right? Unfortunately, this one is hauling unsafe tidings: It represents an estimate of out-of-service brake-related violations noted on North American commercial vehicles during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Allliance’s (CVSA) last three roadside inspection events. With Brake Safety Week 2018 coming up Sept. 16-22, Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC) wants to equip fleets and owner-operators with the tools to make sure that your fleet doesn’t join the convoy of vehicles placed out of service.
Part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake, Brake Safety Week is an outreach and enforcement campaign designed to improve commercial motor vehicle brake safety. Inspections on large trucks and buses will be conducted by local, state, provincial, territorial, and federal motor carrier safety officials in the United States and Canada. Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, supports the CVSA’s goals of improving vehicle safety throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
“Last September, when CVSA limited its event to a single day, inspectors noted more than a thousand out-of-service brake-related violations,” said Keith McComsey, director of marketing and customer solutions, Wheel-End, at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC (BSFB). “And on an unannounced Brake Safety Day in April of this year, that number was 1,595.” Preliminary figures from CVSA’s International Roadcheck in June 2018 indicate more than 7,100 out-of-service brake-related violations.
“Today’s advanced commercial vehicle safety technologies are more effective and complex than ever, but their safe operation still depends on the basic physics of a properly maintained braking system, and thorough, regular maintenance practices.”
Pre-Trip and Preventive Maintenance
During daily walk-arounds, drivers should visually inspect brake components and listen for air system leaks. Even a cursory look at the wheel-ends can reveal damaged or loose-hanging air chambers, pushrods, or slack adjusters. Note that slack adjusters on each axle should be extended out to the same angle – if they’re different, that’s an indicator of an out-of-adjustment brake, or potentially, a broken spring brake power spring.
Bendix recommends getting under the vehicle once or twice a week to check air disc brake rotors for cracks and inspect the lining wear on drum brakes. And at least once a month, check the air system for moisture: Contamination can lead to deterioration of air system components such as air seals, brake modulating valves, and brake chamber diaphragms, which can, in turn, lead to air system leaks. Oil aerosols passed through the compressor can be particularly corrosive, so Bendix advises using an oil-coalescing air dryer cartridge like the Bendix® PuraGuard®.
In the garage, grease generously and focus on friction. Insufficient greasing can leave gaps inside the brake components like S-cam tubes or automatic slack adjusters where condensation can form, causing rust and corrosion. Seals inside the S-cam tube are engineered to force old, excess grease out of the end of the tube near the slack adjuster. And make sure to check friction regularly for cracks, missing pieces, or degradation, while ensuring that the proper friction is used when relining. Not all replacement friction marketed as acceptable for federal stopping distance requirements will actually perform to the standard. Replace friction like-for-like to maintain OEM performance.
Disc brake and drum brakes have some differing maintenance needs, which the Bendix technical support team has outlined in a new infographic for easy reference (included below and attached).
Brake Safety Week inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I inspection, which covers a range of driver qualifications, documentation, and vehicle equipment conditions. In particular, they’ll be checking the brake system for:
- Loose or missing parts
- Air or hydraulic fluid leaks
- Worn linings, pads, drums, or rotors
- Mismatched air chamber sizes across axles
- Warning device functionality (such as antilock braking system indicator lights)
- Proper brake adjustment
When possible, inspectors will measure pushrod stroke to ensure brakes are in adjustment: Drivers can incur fines if more than 25 percent of a vehicle’s wheel-ends are non-compliant, and too many out-of-adjustment brakes can lead to the vehicle being placed out of service.
A dozen jurisdictions will also be using performance-based brake testing (PBBT) to measure vehicle braking efficiency.
“Modern commercial vehicle brakes and their stopping power are truly a marvel compared even to systems of the not-so-distant past; keeping them in good working condition is a key element in truck and highway safety,” McComsey said. “That’s why with every step the Bendix team takes to engineer these systems, we consider how we’re going to support them through technician training, education, and equipment support.”
To help trucking professionals stay connected and informed, Bendix provides 24/7/365 resources, including the Bendix On-Line Brake School (www.brake-school.com) and the Knowledge Dock® (knowledge-dock.com), which features an archive of the Bendix Tech Tips series, as well as videos, blog posts, podcasts, and white papers.
Industry technical leadership, unparalleled post-sales support, and an ever-growing portfolio of technology developments enable Bendix to deliver on safety, vehicle performance, and efficiency, supporting areas critical to fleets’ success. In striving to lower the total cost of vehicle ownership, Bendix helps strengthen return on investment in equipment and technology that enhance safety for all drivers and passengers who share North America’s roads.
For more information about Bendix air brake systems and technologies, call 1-800-AIR-BRAKE (1-800-247-2725) or visit safertrucks.com/solutions.