Save Your Stopping Power: Top Tips For Maintaining The Life Of Your Brakes
It takes a great deal of knowledge, skill and experience to manage a semi-truck safely. There are strategies drivers can employ to help extend the life of their trucks’ components. One way drivers can extend truck life is through smart braking techniques:
- Downshift—Don’t Brake—To Slow Speed
The best way to limit wear on brakes is pretty straightforward: use them less. Experienced and skilled drivers know that downshifting is an important skill in this regard. Not only does it help ensure better focus while driving (because the driver is constantly engaged in anticipating and adjusting for the changing needs of the road), it also reduces brake wear by using the truck’s transmission to slow the vehicle’s speed. This way, brakes are only needed at the very end of the stopping process, reducing friction and extending their life.
- Know Your Route
With regular travel on the same routes, drivers can get to know places where they can safely coast, and where it’s important to drive at a reduced speed. Knowing the roads and driving appropriately to their demands will help improve fuel economy and reduce the need to slow down suddenly. This is beneficial for the longevity of vehicles and their parts, as well as for overall driving safety.
- Pay Attention and Anticipate
Even when unfamiliar with the area, drivers can still reap the benefits of the previous point by driving attentively and using cues on the road to anticipate what lies ahead. Are there suddenly brake-lights illuminated ahead? This could be a sign of an accident or traffic slowdown, and signals the need to begin downshifting or at least easing up on the gas. Truck drivers have an edge over most other drivers, here, because of their higher vantage point.
- Seek Additional Training
Many companies offer training for drivers who seem to be wearing down brakes at an unusually quick pace. This benefits both drivers, who learn more effective driving techniques, and companies, since they can reduce the cost of replacing brakes more often than should be necessary. Drivers should always feel comfortable raising questions to supervisors to see what support resources are available.
Reducing wear on truck components is important, but not so important that it’s worth compromising safety. As with everything else, drivers are encouraged to make use of sound strategies for improving performance, but safety—not cost—should always be the foremost consideration.