Brake calipers and the entire brake system quite often we all take for granted now days in trucking industry. Simply for the last decades we are used that everything works fine and that everything is so durable and made of good and long lasting materials. And all of those things are 100% true and correct.
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But just because everything is like that and everything works fine and you were able to drive hundreds of thousands of miles this is not an excuse or reason to create a habit of not paying attention to brakes. It is definitely the most important part of the trucks and over the years of experience I completely started to understand people who when change brakes always buy the most expensive ones.
It is so logical but hey on nowadays market when you need to fight for every cent it is not easy to preserve the biggest standards of equipment and vehicle maintenance so if you are one of those trucking company owners or truck drivers that sometimes take that extra load before going to change brakes I completely understand you and I admit that it is not easy to be in trucking business nowadays.
There is a lot of reasons why trucking companies or drivers don’t pay attention to the brakes and I’ll just mention few of them so that all of us are reminded and to make a habit of checking and maintaining brakes:
– people are just used that brakes are durable and they don’t check them
– we don’t have a practice of monthly detail vehicle check
– maintenance budget is spent on tires and scheduled maintenance
– even though being instructed by company drivers don’t perform scheduled brake inspections
– when replacing the brakes companies often buy cheaper products which can’t deliver high FMCSA standards of safety and durability
So now that we detected some of the possible scenarios why brakes and the entire brake system is not at the top level I will go into more details when it comes to brake calipers.
In simple words that would be a caliper that once you press a brake pedal by your foot in the car or truck will transfer and apply that pressure to brake disc. It is a middle man that has a lot of sensor on it that can include the amount of brake pads remaining life and a lot of other feature. I’m sure all of you were able to see it trough you wheels when taking a quick look on the tire. It looks like this:
On now days market there is few major suppliers that are delivering brake calipers to automotive or trucking industry and all of them look pretty similar and the way they work is quite the same. Some more advanced solutions have more braking valves that other but I don’t want to bug you with a lot of details that are not quite important here.
Usually you will find that trucks have a brake caliper for every wheel that has disc brakes. Brake calipers are only intent to be used with the brakes that have a disc brake. When it comes to drum brakes it is completely different world and entire system is designed and works a bit different compared to disc brakes and calipers.
Brake calipers present the one of the most important part of the truck brake system so you need to pay attention to this and make sure they are working properly and you are not compromising safety and safety rating of your trucking company.
There is few signals how you can notice that there is something wrong with your truck brake calipers and I will describe each one of them si that you can be 100% sure when one of these signals shows up what is it about:
Usually the first messenger that something is going wrong is the weird noise you can notice while pressing the brake pedal and start braking. Pay attention to the noise you hear is something unusual you can hear. Turn off the radio and drive slowly to see what is the noise you can hear.
If it is something coming from the wheels you can be well certain that something is wrong with brake calipers. Don’t just panic there is few possible reasons why this is happening but it would be a good idea to try and test it a few times.
If the situation persist step out of the car and ask one of your family members of friends to drive the car instead of you and slowly pass by you and brake. If still the sounds is even louder that it is good idea to visit a mechanic shop before things get more complicated and start to affect your safety.
Consult with mechanic what is it about and ask for advices. Please also be aware that mechanics will always propose a solution that is most easy and fastest to solve which in most cases is simply buying a new brake calipers. But wait! Ask them to clean and try to fix the existing ones. Usually it takes a bit of WD 40 and that’s it. Solved.
This is not easy to notice by ordinary drivers because the effects are visible only after you drive a lot of miles in the truck. Simply said some braking situation that required 100ft to a complete stop now will take up to 40ft more and it takes a good eye and attention to this to notice that.
All these situations cab caused by multiple reasons and that makes this even harder to notice. Possible reason include old brake pads, used brake discs, brake oil is old so it is not to blame the brake calipers but they need to be inspected immediately too.
Very dangerous situation and very unpleasant especially to a rookie or less skilled truck drivers and take a full concentration and experience to handle if that happens. You will notice this kind of situations in a way that you apply pressure to a brake pedal a truck start slowing down but the force drives him in one direction either left or right instead of going straight.
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