ELYRIA, Ohio — Need evidence of how important foundational maintenance is to keeping vehicles on the road and operating safely?
Try this: During last year’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment represented well over half – 63.8 percent – of the violations that led to vehicles being placed out of service.
With this year’s International Roadcheck around the corner on June 4-6, Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake) reminds fleets and owner-operators that taking care of the basics is a must.
“The 2018 Roadcheck followed a common pattern of brake, tire and wheel-end issues accounting for the majority of the out-of-service violations,” said Lance Hansen, Bendix North America regional vice president – fleet/trailer sales and service engineering. “This year’s program includes a special emphasis on steering and suspension systems – but that doesn’t mean there will be less scrutiny of brake and wheel-end concerns. Simple, routine maintenance is designed to catch these issues, from improperly inflated tires to out-of-adjustment brakes. Roadcheck also highlights something else of vital importance – the need for technicians to have the latest training.”
Since its inception in 1988, International Roadcheck – the largest targeted commercial motor vehicle program in the world – has conducted more than 1.6 million total roadside inspections in the United States, Canada and Mexico. On average, the 72-hour period will see roughly 17 trucks and buses inspected every minute, with most of them undergoing the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection, a 37-step procedure that reviews both driver operating requirements and a vehicle’s mechanical fitness.
With braking systems, wheel-ends and tires in the spotlight, offers key points on inspecting and maintaining these crucial components.
Brake systems and brake adjustment reflect a range of issues that are easily averted through regular pre-trip inspections and preventive maintenance. Before hitting the road, drivers should always conduct standard walk-arounds with an eye out for visible brake system problems such as loose hoses or damaged brake components – air chambers or pushrods, for example.
In the shop, air brake system inspections should include the following – all of which relate directly to items inspected during Roadcheck:
- Conducting a 90- to 100-psi brake application and listening for leaks
- Measuring chamber stroke at each wheel-end to ensure proper brake adjustment
- Examining friction for good condition and minimum thickness
- Measuring/inspecting each rotor and drum for wear and heat cracking and/or leopard spotting
Also essential is checking the condition of friction for compliance, whether during maintenance or pre-trip. This means inspecting for issues including lining cracks, missing portions of the lining, oil or grease contamination of the lining, and compliant friction lining thickness.
“Should you need to replace air disc brake pads or drum brake shoes, select components that will ensure the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements are met, so that your vehicle remains compliant with the standards required of reduced stopping distance (RSD) braking systems,“ said Keith McComsey, director of marketing and customer solutions at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake (BSFB). “For example, not all friction that is marketed as acceptable under today’s RSD regulations will actually perform to that standard, so Bendix recommends replacing like-for-like OEM friction. This is the best way to maintain your vehicle’s braking performance in stopping distance and wear when replacing linings on vehicles equipped with RSD brakes.”
In addition, Bendix recommends remanufactured drum brake shoes that have been coined back to their OEM-engineered shape, as opposed to those that have simply been relined with new friction. Relining a shoe that’s been exposed to the extreme force and temperature changes of normal use without having been coined can lead to reduced stopping power and premature wear.
“Getting the most out of each part is key to achieving the best and safest performance from a braking system. Don’t let inferior friction or a twisted shoe undercut the stopping power of a high-performance brake,” McComsey said. “And you can draw a direct line between a braking system and connected safety systems: A full-stability or collision mitigation system will be negatively affected if brakes aren’t performing at their peak.”
Fleets spec’ing drum brakes and incurring repeated violations because of out-of-adjustment brakes might consider air disc brakes instead, McComsey noted, citing the Bendix ADB22X air disc brake as an example. “The ADB22X includes an internal self-adjustment mechanism that can help lower the risk of brakes being found out of adjustment during inspection, which can affect Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring.”
Roadcheck’s focus on tires serves as a reminder of the importance of proper tire pressure: Industry research shows about 90 percent of tire failures can be attributed to underinflation, and nearly half of all emergency service road calls are tire-related.
“Underinflated tires also experience greater stress and generate a higher internal running temperature, which compounds the risk of a tire blowout,” said Jon Intagliata, Bendix product manager for Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). “In fact, the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council estimates that 20 percent underinflation can shorten a tire life by 30 percent.”
Use of a system such as the SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System by Bendix CVS – or the SmarTire Trailer-Link TPMS by Bendix CVS for trailers – can help reduce that risk by providing real-time pressure alerts to the driver. Bendix SmarTire systems use a wheel-mounted sensor that continuously monitors temperature as well, allowing alerts that compensate for changing operating conditions, and can point to other potential wheel-end issues that lead to high tire temperatures, such as a dragging brake.
Tires also impact the performance of advanced safety components and technologies, such as RSD-compliant brakes, air disc brakes, full stability, and advanced driver assistance systems such as Bendix Wingman Fusion.
Staying informed on regulations, as well as remaining knowledgeable about today’s ever-advancing commercial vehicle safety components and technologies, is an important part of keeping vehicles on the road and operating safely. Fleets aiming to equip their technicians with the most current and in-depth training and information can turn to a variety of options.
The in-person Bendix Brake Training School – an annual series of multiday courses offered across North America – is among the industry’s longest-running educational programs. At the Bendix On-Line Brake School (brake-school.com), participants can access more than 70 courses for free, including Bendix’s comprehensive and interactive Air Brake Training course. The company also offers a host of 24/7/365 post-sales support options, including webinars, podcasts, blogs, video tech talks, and much more.
At the heart of Bendix’s training education programs are its field-tested sales and service professionals, along with its veteran field technical support team and the Bendix Tech Team at 1-800-AIR-BRAKE – an expert technical support group providing service advice, brake system troubleshooting, and product training. Bendix also provides technical materials – including archives of the Bendix Tech Tips series – through the Bendix Knowledge Dock multimedia center at knowledge-dock.com.
“Roadcheck demonstrates how being prepared and running safe, well-maintained trucks requires year-round attention,” Hansen said. “Bendix is there to support the industry with maintenance know-how and resources. It’s another way we are working together to shape tomorrow’s transportation.”