What are Air Brakes – How do They Work on a Truck?

few types of air brakes

Air brakes are more reliable than hydraulic brakes and are used on large trucks, buses, and trailers.

And that’s the reason these are just one of the many things truck drivers have to worry about.

Have you ever wondered, how they work and what can go wrong!

In this blog post, we’ll explain how air brakes work and cover the basics of how to use them.

We’ll also answer some common questions about air brakes.

What are Air Brakes?

Air brakes are a type of braking system that uses air pressure to stop the vehicle.

It works by using compressed air to apply pressure to the brake pads, which in turn stops the wheels from turning.

The air brake system is made up of an air compressor, air tanks, and brake lines.

The air compressor pumps air into the air tanks, which store the air until it’s needed.

When the brakes are applied, the air is released from the tanks and goes through the brake lines to the brakes.

The pressure of the air applies force to the brakes, which stops the vehicle.

Why Do Trucks Use Air Brakes?

Trucks use air brakes because they are more reliable than hydraulic brakes. Hydraulic brakes can fail if the fluid leaks or if the system is not working properly.

Air brakes are less likely to fail because the air is not affected by heat or cold like hydraulic fluid is.

How Do You Use Air Brakes On Trucks?

Using air brakes on trucks is different than using regular brakes.

The first thing you need to do is build up air pressure in the system by depressing the brake pedal several times.

You will know the system is ready when you hear a hissing sound.

Once the system is charged, you can apply the brakes like normal.

Depressing the pedal will release air from the tanks and apply pressure to the brakes.

Releasing the pedal will allow air to flow back into the tanks.

It’s important to use a smooth, steady motion when applying the brakes.

If you slam on the brakes, it can cause the wheels to lock up and skid.

You can use these brakes for:

Normal stops: Use the brakes like you would any other vehicle.

Emergency stops: If you need to stop quickly, depress the pedal quickly and firmly.

Controlled braking: If you need to stop gradually, depress the pedal slowly and release it gradually.

Stab braking: If you need to stop quickly and don’t have time to build up air pressure, you can “stab” the pedal.

This means you push the pedal all the way down to the floor and hold it there.

Doing this will release all of the air from the tanks and apply maximum pressure to the brakes.

It should only be used in an emergency situation.

when to use air brakes

What Are The Different Types Of Air Brakes?

There are two types of air brakes: disc brakes and drum brakes.

Disc brakes work by using calipers to squeeze brake pads against a disc, or rotor.

Drum brakes work by using shoes that press against the inside of a drum.

You may ask, which type of air brake is better?

It depends on what you’re looking for.

Disc brakes are more common because they are more efficient and have less maintenance.

Drum brakes are less expensive and are often used on heavy-duty trucks.

Difference between Air Brakes and Regular Brakes and the Benefits of Air Brakes over Regular Brakes

Air brakes are a type of braking system that uses compressed air to slow down or stop a vehicle.

Unlike regular brakes, which use friction to stop the vehicle, air brakes use compressed air to push against the brake pads, which in turn slows or stops the wheels from turning.

Air brakes offer a number of advantages over regular brakes:

1- First, they are much less likely to overheat, even when used for extended periods of time.

This is because the air that is used to compress the brakes is also used to cool them down, preventing the build-up of heat that can cause regular brakes to fail.

2- Second, air brakes are much smoother than regular brakes, providing a more comfortable ride for both the driver and passengers.

Because there is no friction between the brake pads and the wheels, which can cause a jerking motion when the brakes are applied.

3- Third, air brakes are much quieter than regular brakes, making them ideal for use in urban areas where noise pollution is a concern.

4- Fourth, air brakes are easier to maintain than regular brakes since there is no need to worry about replacing worn brake pads.

Additionally, air brakes typically have a longer lifespan than regular brakes, since they are not subject to the same wear and tear.

5- Finally, air brakes are more environmentally friendly than regular brakes, since they do not produce the same amount of harmful emissions.

What Happens if Your Truck’s Air Brakes Get Failed?

If the air brakes fail, the truck will not be able to stop.

This is why it’s so important for truck drivers to check their brakes before they start driving.

There are several things that can cause air brake failures, such as a leak in the system, an issue with the compressor, or a loss of air pressure.

If you suspect that your air brakes are not working properly, it’s important to pull over and call for help.

Never try to drive a truck with faulty air brakes.


Why do air brakes take longer to stop?

It takes longer to stop because the air needs to travel through the system and build up pressure before it can apply force to the brakes.

With that said, it should only take a few seconds for the truck to build air. If it takes longer, there may be an issue with the compressor.

Are Air Brakes Better Than Electric Brakes?

Air brakes and electric brakes both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Air brakes are typically more expensive than electric brakes, but they offer a number of benefits that make them worth the extra cost.

Electric brakes, on the other hand, are less expensive but may not provide the same level of performance as air brakes.

Ultimately, the decision of which type of brake to use depends on the specific needs and preferences of the driver.

So, Why are disc brakes not used in trucks?

There are a few reasons for this. First, disc brakes are more expensive. Second, they require more maintenance.

And finally, drum brakes are more common on heavy-duty trucks.

How often do air brakes in your truck need to be serviced?

It’s important to have your air brakes serviced regularly.

You should have a professional check your brakes at least once a year.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, air brakes are a vital part of a truck and need to be in good working order at all times.

If you have any questions about air brakes, or if you need help troubleshooting an issue, contact a qualified truck mechanic.