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Common Brake Maintenance Mistakes

Common DOT problems for Commercial Fleets in Denver, Colorado – Brake Repairs

Commercial fleet brake services are often one of the most overlooked aspects of preventable maintenance in Colorado. In fact, Braking system and brake adjustment violations combined made up an astonishing 45% of all mechanical violations reported by CVSA-affiliated inspectors.

This might come as a surprise to most commercial fleet operators, who usually pay special attention to their vehicles’ brakes during routine preventative maintenance. But the numbers speak for themselves. There is obviously a widespread problem with current PM regimens when it comes to braking systems.

Part of the problem may come from a common misconception regarding automatic brake adjusters. Just because automatic is in the name doesn’t mean that these adjusters don’t require maintenance. They must be regularly lubricated and even when properly maintained can lose their adjustment criteria over time. Some operators will try to adjust these systems manually, resulting in potential catastrophic failure of the vehicle’s brakes and a runaway vehicle. The NTSB has been warning in the strongest possible terms against manual adjustment of automatic adjusters since at least 2003.

Brake adjustment issues alone accounted for 17.1% of violations in 2019.

Automatic brake adjusters should be regularly serviced by qualified mechanics, and manual systems should undergo manual adjustment when necessary. Of course, adjustment is only one part of a vehicle’s overall braking system.

Braking system violations, other than brake adjustment, represented 28% of violations in 2019.

Naturally, the air brakes used on most commercial vehicles differ significantly from the hydraulic brakes used on private vehicles and as such require not only specialized training to operate, but also specialized maintenance procedures. Leaks in a hydraulic line are relatively easy to identify visually, since leaking brake fluid and the resulting buildup of grime is readily visible. But you can’t see an air leak.

Instead, checking the integrity of an air brake system requires the careful inspection of the length of the system’s air hoses and tubing for signs of failure. Good mechanics will conduct this inspection while the brakes are applied, since it’s a lot easier to hear air escaping from a hole in the tubing than it is to see it. Additionally, improper clearance on pads and drums contributes considerably to the degradation of the brakes’ stopping power. Finally, electrical systems associated with the brakes should be meticulously maintained. A low air warning system is useless if the warning light is inoperative, and maintenance required on the ABS is much more easily discovered if its own warning light is working.

When not only risking big fines but also the life and well-being of your drivers, fleet, and others, it is best to have your brake inspections and services, including the automatic adjustment systems conducted by professionals such as Mobile Wrench.

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