Source: Great Dane post

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Heavy-duty truck brake technology has advanced over the years and continues to be an important safety feature for trucks and trailers. All brakes are not created equal, however, so it is important to understand the differences.

There are two types of air brakes: disc brakes and drum brakes. Though both types use the same principles of friction to slow a vehicle down, air disc brakes have many advantages over drum brakes.

The trucking industry is trending toward air disc brakes because of safety, efficiency, and in some situations, a lower total cost of ownership.

Disc brakes enhance safety by providing shorter stopping distances than drum brakes and improving trailer in-line braking stability. The stopping distance for disc brakes can be 25 to 30 feet less than drum brakes, depending on tires, speed, conditions and the braking system on the tractor. The stopping power is noticeably greater when both the tractor and trailer are equipped with air disc brakes, particularly when the vehicle is traveling at increased speeds.

Disc brakes require less maintenance than drum brakes because they provide stable and uniform braking, which helps brake components last longer. This means they provide superior braking efficiency and remain in optimum adjustment.

Additionally, service intervals are generally longer for disc brakes than drum brakes, and service technicians can change disc brake pads in 25 percent of the time it takes to change a drum brake shoe.

While disc brakes typically have a higher upfront cost than drum brakes, they can have a lower total cost of ownership.

Consider the following factors:

Longer service intervals and shorter service times equal lower maintenance costs and more uptime for the trailer

Rust jacking, which is common on drum brake shoes, is virtually eliminated with disc brakes

Disc brakes eliminate the need for S-cams, slack adjusters, brake drums, brake shoes and bushings, rollers and springs in a parts maintenance inventory

Disc brakes reduce the chance of CSA brake violations for brakes out of adjustment, which can put the trailer out of service.

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