Spring Means Air Brake Rejuvenation Time

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Source: Bendix Commercial Vehicles announcement

ELYRIA, Ohio – March 23, 2021 – Every autumn, we talk a lot – justifiably – about preparing trucks for winter’s harsh conditions. But as spring arrives across North America, it is just as important to take preventive maintenance steps and address the tolls that a season of wild temperature swings and corrosive road chemicals can take on your vehicles. This installment of the Bendix Tech Tips covers springtime reminders that help put winter’s troubles in the rear-view mirror.

Tough Times for Trucks

“Winter weather is hard on all the physical components of your air brake system,” said Richard Nagel, Bendix’s director of marketing and customer solutions – Air Supply & Drivetrain. “You’ve got the contrast of freezing temperatures and heat coming off the engine; you get trapped moisture due to freeze-thaw cycles, thermal cycling, and humidity; you get metals expanding and contracting, and plastics softening and hardening. It’s the same reason pavement cracks and potholes grow in the winter.”

That means drivers and technicians need to pay extra attention when spring arrives with both visual checks and keen awareness of component performance.

Related post:
Bendix Tech Tips: The ABCs of Winter Prep

Air dryers mounted on the frame rail are susceptible to corrosion due to their exposure to the road, particularly the seats around the purge and pressure protection valves, and the governor connection.

Steel air tanks can also corrode and develop small punctures. Dirt, sand, and road chemicals can mix with water and form residue that can clog and prevent proper operation of air dryer parts like the pressure protection and purge valves.

Inspections should also include an eye for cracking or breakage of plastic air-line tubing that connects the dryer to the truck’s air system. Push-to-connect air fittings can also be affected by chemicals and temperature cycling.

In the Cab and on the Road

Behind the wheel, there are other indicators of winter damage to an air brake system.

“Just because you don’t immediately see or hear any leaks doesn’t mean they’re not present,” Nagel noted. “If you notice that it’s taking significantly longer to charge the tanks – say, three or four minutes compared to one or two – then that’s a sign that your air brake system is losing air.

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“The same thing applies if you notice the system charging more often. And an increase in charging cycles also means more air going through the dryer, which affects the life of the dryer cartridge.”

Additionally, if the air dryer cartridge wasn’t replaced in the fall, he added, then spring is a good time to switch it out.

To view the reminder of this Bendix tip, click HERE.

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