Drum brakes have long been the standard for North American heavy-duty trucks. Not only are they initially less costly than other braking options, but recent advances in brake drum technology mean these tried-and-true standards can now run at lower temperatures and longer distances than the drums of just 10 years ago.

However, despite the familiarity that most drivers have with drum brakes, more fleets are starting to turn to disc brake alternatives. This newer technology, which dominates in Europe and overseas markets, is becoming more popular in North America for several reasons, including:

  • Shorter stopping distances: Disc brakes typically stop in 200 feet compared to 220 feet with reduced stopping distance (RSD) drum brakes, providing a safer stopping experience for everyone on the road.
  • Reduced fade: The open design of disc brakes prevents heat buildup, keeping the mechanism cool and delivering consistent stopping power and a smoother ride, even while traveling down steep hills.
  • Easy maintenance: Unlike drum brakes, disc brakes don’t require periodic lubrication and, in some cases, can be inspected with the wheel still attached, saving hours of labor. And pad changes take as little as 15 minutes.
  • Increased freight capacity: Disc brakes actually weigh less than the larger brake drums needed to meet RSD mandates. So choosing disc brakes over drums can lighten a truck by 158 lbs. Even if you opt for disc brakes on the front axle and drums on the rear, you can still lower your overall weight by 47 lbs.
  • Lower total operating costs: While disc brakes do cost more per axle than drum brakes, their longer service life and simpler maintenance actually reduce the total cost of ownership over the life of the vehicle.

No matter which braking mechanism your fleet has committed to, one fact remains the same – all brake systems need regular preventive maintenance to help them perform better and last longer.

The most important investment you can make in the health of your fleet is choosing a friction material that is specifically engineered for each individual truck’s application. For heavy-duty trucks, this typically means linings with gross axle weight ratings (GAWRs) of 20,000 to 23,000 lb.

But that’s just the first step. To ensure premium braking performance, choose a replacement lining that is optimized for your Volvo truck – like Volvo Genuine friction material. Unlike aftermarket or white box alternatives, only Volvo Genuine linings are tested and verified to work seamlessly with your truck’s braking system. In addition, they are engineered to meet or exceed federal RSD requirements, ensuring a shorter – and safer – stop for your truck.

Manufactured and assembled in North America, Volvo Genuine linings are made with premium compounds, and each features the lining designation, coefficient of friction rating, manufacturing batch code and process date stamped right on the lining edge.

Your local Volvo Trucks dealership is a one-stop shop for all of your brake needs. Schedule an appointment today, and let our expert technicians examine your brakes for wear or damage. They can also suggest the best OEM and remanufactured replacement brake system parts for your specific application if needed, including pads, drums, calipers and slacks. And don’t forget – 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.