10 Best Truck Air Brake System Repair And Maintenance Tips

Trucks rely heavily on their air brake systems to ensure safe operation on the road. Truck air brake systems are essential for safe and efficient operation of commercial trucks. It is important to keep these systems in good working order to avoid accidents and breakdowns. Regular maintenance and repair of these systems are crucial to prevent accidents and ensure drivers’ safety. 

These tips cover everything from checking for leaks, adjusting brake shoes, and keeping the air dryer clean to ensure optimal performance and prevent costly breakdowns. With these tips, truck drivers and fleet managers can ensure their vehicles are always in compliance with safety regulations and running smoothly on the road. Avoid major expenses and ensure your truck is in top condition by following these truck air brake system repair and maintenance tips. Now we will provide you with 10 tips for maintaining and repairing your truck’s air brake system.

Replace bearings when needed

One of the most obvious signs that your bearings may need to be replaced is if you start hearing any abnormal noises coming from your machinery. Listen for any whistling, grinding, or squeaking sounds that are not normal to your equipment’s operation. If you notice excessive vibration coming from your machinery, it could be a sign that your bearings are worn out. Shaking or vibrating could be an indication that your bearings are not able to handle the load anymore and are causing stress on other parts of the machine.

When bearings start to wear down, they can create a lot of heat. If you notice that your equipment is running hotter than normal, it could be a sign that the bearings need to be replaced. Overheating can cause a variety of problems, including warping or deforming the bearings themselves. As bearings wear down, they become less effective, which can lead to decreased efficiency in your machine’s overall performance. This could manifest in a variety of ways, including slower processing times, decreased power output, or increased energy consumption.

The most obvious sign that your bearings need to be replaced is if they fail completely. In this case, your machinery may stop working altogether, or there may be serious damage to other parts of the machine. It’s important to take immediate action to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of your equipment and workers.

10 tips for truck air brake system repair and maintenance

1. Differentiate Before Specifying

When it comes to spec’ing brakes, knowing the difference between hydraulic, air disc, and exhaust brakes is essential. Each type has advantages and disadvantages that must be considered when deciding which is best suited for a particular vehicle’s application.

According to Alicia Wong, director of brakes NA at Meritor, when spec’ing hydraulic brakes, it is important to evaluate the widths and liner grades and opt for designs with flexible mounting configurations and fast shoe replacement features that minimize service time.

Air brakes offer superior stopping performance and reduced brake drag, making them ideal for trucks that run hotter due to their performance or weight.

Lastly, exhaust braking should be considered for applications requiring efficiency and fuel savings rather than peak braking power. By understanding these differences and evaluating each application case-by-case basis, fleets can spec functional and cost-effective brakes.

2. Combine Spec Friction and Rotors

Spec’ing the right friction and rotors for an application is key for the extended service life of brakes. Mark Holley, director of marketing and customer solutions for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, notes that choosing a friction couple – the combination of the friction material and rotor – is essential.

Friction materials designed for light-duty vehicles may not withstand business conditions such as heavy loads, frequent stops, or high brake temperatures found in severe-duty applications.

Choosing products specifically formulated to wear optimally will maximize brake friction and rotor life while reducing downtime and replacement costs. It is important to research different application needs to ensure you spec a combination that fits your exact requirements.

3. Regularly Check & Maintain Air Brake System Components

It is important to regularly inspect and maintain your truck’s air brake system components to ensure they are functioning properly and safely. Inspect for frayed or corroded wires, loose connections, cracked hoses, and any other signs of wear or damage that could affect the system’s overall performance.

Check the pressure gauges to ensure they register the proper air pressure, and always check your brake pads and rotors for wear.

Also, check the air hoses and air tanks for leaks. If you hear any hissing or bubbling coming from the system, there is likely a leak that needs to be repaired or replaced. It’s also important to regularly maintain your air compressor and other system components, including replacing the oil filter and cleaning the air dryer.

4. Upgrade & Replace System Components as Needed

If any of your truck’s air brake system components are worn or broken, it is important to replace them immediately to maintain proper performance. If you decide to upgrade any of these parts, ensure they are compatible with the rest of the system.

Upgrading parts like the air compressor, air dryer, and other brake components can help you increase braking power and efficiency and reduce maintenance costs over time.

A few popular upgrades include installing larger air tanks for increased air storage capacity, adding an exhaust brake for fuel economy, and replacing old friction materials with new disc brakes for improved stopping power.

5. Make Checklists for Inspections

Maintaining a properly functioning brake system should be a top priority for any fleet. Pre- and post-trip brake system inspections can help ensure it’s in good condition, reducing the chances of costly fines due to violations.

These routine checkups are essential for staying compliant with regulations; they should include an inspection of all braking system components, including lines, chambers, clamps, and pushrods.

When creating vehicle inspection checklists, fleets should remember what commercial motor vehicle inspectors look out for when conducting roadside inspections. Factors such as brakes being in proper working order and whether there are adequate supplies on board must be considered.

Furthermore, operators need to use safe driving practices and strive to instruct team members on standard operating procedures so they understand what is expected of them while driving and can detect potential maintenance issues before hitting the road or after completing a job.

6. Develop a Maintenance Schedule

To ensure the air brake system of your truck continues to function properly, you should establish a maintenance schedule and keep up with regular inspections. Since these systems are constantly exposed to heat, moisture, dirt, and dust, they require frequent attention and care.

An organized maintenance routine can help you proactively catch any signs of wear or damage before they cause serious problems.

At a minimum, your maintenance schedule should include regular inspections of all components, checking and replacing air hoses and other components as needed, regularly changing the oil filter, cleaning the air dryer, and lubricating the system’s parts. Additionally, you should inspect the brakes after each use to ensure they function properly.

7. Inspect Hoses and Tubing

Regularly inspecting hoses and tubing for brakes is essential for keeping trucks safe on the roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that in 2019, more than 4,000 brake hose and tubing violations were issued due to chafing or kinking.

That number increased even further in the 2020 fiscal year. Chafed rubber hoses and kinked thermoplastic hoses are problems that need to be addressed quickly when they’re identified, as they can compromise a vehicle’s braking system.

Bendix recommends checking hoses and tubes through pre-trip walkarounds and visual inspections at the shop. Drivers should also perform 90- to 100-psi brake applications with the wheels chocked and parking brakes released, so any leaks related to hoses or tubing can be detected.

By performing regular checks of these brake system components, drivers can ensure their vehicles remain compliant with safety regulations and operate efficiently on the road.

8. Check Air Dryer Filters

Air dryers are essential for preventing moisture in the truck brake system, which can cause corrosion and other problems. Check your air dryer filters regularly to ensure the air you’re using to apply brakes is dry. Depending on the type of filter used and the environment it’s exposed to, these filters should be changed at least every one to two years. In addition, check for any signs of corrosion or damage and replace the filter as needed.

9. Test Pressure Differential

The pressure differential, also known as the difference between the front and rear brakes on a truck, should be tested regularly to ensure both sets of brake systems are working correctly. Low air pressure in either the front or rear brakes can cause braking issues that could lead to unsafe driving conditions.

The FMCSA recommends testing at least once a year and often in areas with frequent freeze-thaw cycles. To test the pressure differential, you’ll need to measure the air in both systems and compare them.

10. Troubleshoot Issues

If you encounter any issues during your inspections, it’s important to troubleshoot quickly and accurately. Start by checking the system for leaks, then ensure all the components work properly. If needed, check the brake adjustment and then bleed the system of any trapped air or moisture. Additionally, replace any worn or damaged parts before returning your truck to the road.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your truck’s air brake system is running smoothly and safely. Regular maintenance and inspections are essential for keeping your truck in good condition, so follow a preventive maintenance schedule and stay up-to-date on all necessary repairs.

Why is Air Brake System Maintenance Important?

Regular maintenance of air brake systems is of utmost importance for commercial motor vehicles to function optimally and ensure safe operations on the road. Failure to maintain air brake systems can lead to brake failure, which can cause accidents, injuries, or even fatalities.

Regular maintenance ensures that all components of the brakes, such as brake pads, brake shoes, slack adjusters, brake drums, and brake lines are in good condition, have the proper adjustment, and are free of any debris or corrosion. This also involves checking the air pressure in the tanks, hoses, and lines to identify any leaks.

Frequent inspections and maintenance can detect any issues early on and prevent further damage, which could lead to a costly and time-consuming repair. In addition, maintenance can reduce the risk of brake system violations, which can result in legal penalties.

It is recommended to adhere to a rule of thumb and have air brake systems inspected every six months or after every 6,000 miles driven. Regular maintenance ensures that critical components are functioning properly, reducing the risk of brake failure and promoting safety on the road.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. What Is the Maintenance of Air Brakes?

Air brakes require regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs to ensure proper functioning. Inspections should be conducted at least once yearly or more often, depending on usage.

The most important part of a brake inspection is checking for leaks or worn parts. Other maintenance tasks include checking the pressure differential, testing the air dryer filters, and troubleshooting any issues.

2. How Do You Check Air Brakes?

To check air brakes, it is important to follow a few steps. First, perform a pre-trip walkaround to inspect hoses and tubes for chafing, kinks, and leaks. Next, use a pressure gauge to measure the air pressure of the front and rear brakes and compare the readings to ensure the pressure differential is correct.

Additionally, check the air dryer filters for signs of contamination or wear, and test the brakes with parking brakes released and wheels choked. If any issues are found, troubleshoot them promptly.

3. What Is The Failure Of The Air Brake System?

Several different issues can cause the failure of an air brake system. The most common cause of failure is a loss of pressure or a leak in the system. This can occur when the air compressor fails to build up enough pressure or when there is a leak in the pipes, fittings, hoses, or valves.

4. What Are Brake System Problems?

Brake system problems can range from minor to serious, depending on the underlying cause. Common brake system problems include low or contaminated brake fluid, air and vacuum leaks, worn-out pads and rotors, seized calipers, broken or corroded brake lines, master cylinder failure, and ABS malfunctions. A fluid leak typically causes low brake fluid or insufficient pressure to be applied to the brakes.

5. What Causes Loss Of Brake Pressure?

Loss of brake pressure is a common issue faced in truck air brake systems and can be caused by various issues. The most common causes include improper maintenance leading to worn or damaged parts; leaks in the system, such as from loose or faulty connections or air hoses; and low levels of the air compressor output. Sometimes, an issue with the governor on the compressor can also cause pressure loss.


Maintaining and repairing your truck’s air brake system is essential for ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road. By following these 10 tips, you can keep your air brake system in good condition and prevent potential accidents and breakdowns. Remember to regularly inspect your air brake components, monitor air pressure, and address any issues as soon as possible. And if you’re ever unsure about how to properly maintain or repair your system, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional mechanic. By being proactive and staying on top of your air brake maintenance, you can enjoy a smoother and safer driving experience on the road.

John D. Archer

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at brakeshub.com, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.