Air brakes can just be the difference between life and death. If you own a rig or other large vehicle, every minute it is in the shop can be a loss of profit for you. Rather than spending time and money on a mechanic, follow these easy steps to repair your air brakes on your own.
Inspect the Brake System
There are many things that can go wrong with an air brake system. Before making an assumption that might cost you time or money, you should inspect the system and locate exactly where there might be a problem. To start this check, leave your engine running and allow the air compressor governor to raise the system’s air pressure. Depress the parking brake button, and then check for the sound of escaping air or unfamiliar noises coming from the compressor. If you notice problems with air pressure that increases, but doesn’t build up enough to start your truck’s brakes, you may need to make repairs at the compressor.
If you notice that the compressor belt is loose, use a wrench to tighten the compressor’s adjustment bracket which will let the compressor to develop increased air pressure in the brake lines. A loose compressor belt will at imes raise air pressure but still not activate the brakes because the pressure is not high enough. So, now if you’ve generated an adequate increase in air pressure, you can test the brakes to see if they work normaly.
Check for Ice Jams in the System
In cold and icy situations ice and snow jammed into your breaking system can freeze up the entire braking system’s operation. It can cause leaks, or even jam a brake drum. By using a heavy rubber mallet to hit on the brake drums you can sometimes knock off chunks of ice or snow that are jamming the break.
Check Air Line Connectors and Adapter Seals
Ice and snow buildup can equally cause problems with proper seating of air line connectors. You may often fix this by cleaning the connectors. Then inspect the rubber seals on the tractor’s adapter or on air lines. If the seals seem to be damaged, try using a lubricant to help seal them better. If they are completely damaged, you’ll want to replace the adapter on the air line that connects to the tractor, or the adapter on the trailer’s air line.
Conduct a Final Test
After following the procedures highlighted above, it will be time to test the brakes again. Inside the cab, use the brake controls to test the parking brakes and driving brakes. Then check the compressor to be sure it is generating the needed air pressure.