What ignoring spring truck maintenance does to your brakes

What ignoring spring truck maintenance does to your brakes

Every year as the nights get longer, the leaves start to fall, it gets a little cooler, and, inevitably, we start to talk a lot about preparing your trucks for winter. But that doesn’t mean you get to skip spring truck maintenance! It really is just as important to address the tolls that a season of wild temperature swings and corrosive road chemicals can take on your vehicles, and your brakes in particular.

Click here to watch more of FE’s On the Road video series.

First and foremost, be sure to alert your drivers and technicians that they need to start paying extra attention to your trucks this time of year, both with visual checks and component performance levels. We’re focusing on the brakes today, but show the rest of the truck some love too, yeah?

Winter is particularly hard on all parts of your trucks’ air brake system. Take a look at air dryers mounted on the frame rail and steel air tanks, which have been known to 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 these kinds of components.

Now, think about freezing temperatures combined with heat coming off the truck’s engine; you get trapped moisture due to freeze-thaw cycles, and thermal cycling, and humidity; you get metals expanding and contracting, and plastics softening and hardening.

So, inspections should also include looking out for cracking plastics, like in the air-line tubing that connects to the truck’s air system. Air fittings can also be affected by chemicals and temperature cycling.

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 there. If you notice that it’s taking double or triple the time to charge the tanks, that’s a sign that your air brake system is probably losing air. The same thing applies if you notice the system charging more often. That means more air is going through the dryer.

Drivers might also notice a general “stickiness” in the feel of the brakes, as if they’re responding more slowly to the push of the brake pedal. This might mean valve seals in the system have had their lubricant degraded through corrosion or de-icing solutions if the air system froze during the winter.

So, if you were in a situation where you had to add anything to the air system, spring is a great time to check for leaks around brake valves where O-rings might have been exposed to these chemicals, or to replace valves that may be sticking internally due to loss of lubrication.

Even the antilock braking system might suffer if winter was harsh enough. Wire harnesses get chipped by gravel or corrode, and once the wires get wet, they can short out. Any wiring on the chassis is at risk here, so be sure to check these as soon as you’re able.

Spend a little extra time addressing issues that winter brought your fleet, and you’ll not only make your fleet safer, but you can reduce downtime and give your drivers an altogether better ride.

You May Also Like

Navigating the EV charging market

Thoughts on future-proofing charging infrastructure installations and charger/EV compatibility.


It's still the wild west in the EV charging equipment segment. There's growing demand for infrastructure builds now that battery electric commercial vehicles are available and rolling large in short-route applications. While working with one's utility is an issue that's hard to speak to if you're not dealing with that same utility, vetting charging hardware vendors and planning infrastructure scalability is a topic that can be delved.

Tackling tough terrain: Designing vocational trucks with rock-solid specs

Navistar has played a role in developing solutions that cater to the various demands of the industry’s different segments.

Managing trailer telematics data overload

Fleets have a want and demand for not necessarily more data, but more actionable information.

Hot Wheels: The dangers of overheated trailer tires and how to prevent them

Hot wheels are great for racing, but for your fleets operations? Not so much. Prevent overheating with these tire-saving tips.

The impact of A.I. on truck driver safety

A.I. product offerings are gaining popularity in the market and are being implemented by fleets of all sizes.


Other Posts

Cummins produces 2.5 millionth engine at its Jamestown Engine Plant

President of Engine Business Srikanth Padmanabhan anticipates a bright future in trucking for natural gas and hydrogen powertrains.

Aperia Technologies extends predictive tire maintenance platform to last-mile market

Its tire analytics engine is said to use machine learning to characterize the many interrelated variables that affect and inform tire-related maintenance.

PC-12: Looking to the future of heavy-duty engine oils

By doing this work in advance, you can maximize the benefits that PC-12 lubricants will offer to your fleet.

Five truck trend takeaways from May

Your fleet’s role in facilitating the smooth and efficient movement of people and goods becomes paramount during this bustling period.