No matter what your Volvo truck’s application may be, being able to safely bring it to a stop is just as critical as starting it up at the beginning of each workday. But keeping proper maintenance intervals for your brake system is another story – this depends heavily on your truck’s duty cycle.

A vocational truck with several hundred heavy brake applications in a shift will generally need shorter brake system maintenance intervals than an on-highway truck with fewer applications per day. But it’s possible that the on-highway truck could experience more brake system issues than the vocational vehicle, because very little heat is generated in the brakes. Highway applications see an average of 125 to 150 degrees in the brakes, while a vocational truck could have brakes running several hundred degrees higher. Because of this, the vocational truck’s brake shoes may have an average life span of only a couple of months, with drum replacements about twice a year. But this is the expectation of many fleet owners that use their vehicles for vocational applications, and routine service is scheduled well in advance.

It is just as critical to maintain a proper preventive maintenance schedule on your on-highway truck’s brakes as it is for a severe-duty vehicle. In addition to unsafe conditions like increased stopping distance and reduced braking capacity, brake failure can cost you uptime and expensive repairs. And if you’re caught with malfunctioning brakes by a roadside inspector, you risk being cited.

Nearly half of the out-of-service violations cited annually during roadside inspections in the United States and Canada are brake-related. Some of the most common brake-related violations include having brakes out of adjustment, and brake hose and tubing chafing or kinking. In the United States, each brake violation can result in four severity points or more on your Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) carrier safety rating, which can add up rapidly and potentially earn you a follow-up visit from the State or U.S. Department of Transportation. Canadian provinces operate similar safety programs.

To promote the importance of proper brake system maintenance, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will hold its annual Brake Safety Week September 11-17 in the U.S. and Canada. Roadside inspectors will be checking for loose or missing brake system components; cracked, damaged or worn linings, pads drums or rotors; and air or hydraulic fluid leaks. Inspectors will also check ABS malfunction indicator lamps and measure pushrod stroke, where applicable. In 2015, 18,817 vehicles were inspected during Brake Safety Week alone. To learn more about Brake Safety Week and the CVSA’s Operation Airbrake campaign, click here.

Check the brakes on your truck during every pre-trip inspection by listening for air leaks, checking low air signals, looking for component damage and, if you can get under your truck, measuring pushrod stroke. Also, ask the expert technicians at your local Volvo Trucks dealership to examine your brakes during each preventive maintenance visit. Your trusted Volvo parts and service experts can suggest the best OEM and remanufactured replacement brake system parts for your specific application if needed, including OE, RSD Certified Road Choice™ brake chamber and brake drum components. You can also buy brake parts in bulk through the SELECT Part Store™, where you can order online 24/7 for quick delivery and specials on parts and supplies.