7 Signs It’s Time to Replace Semi Truck Brakes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 2% of car accidents were caused by vehicle mechanical failures. Accidents caused by brake failure were a portion of that 2%

This may seem like a small number at first. However, consider the fact that there are several million accidents a year in America. Now that portion of 2% can be a rather significant number. 

Brake system failures happen more often than you may think. Plus, your semi truck can cause a lot more damage should its brakes fail.  To not face the consequences of this, you should replace your semi truck brakes when it’s necessary. 

Read on to learn seven signs that prove you need to replace your truck brakes. 

1. Your Semi Truck Brakes Have Become Too Old 

The actual lifespan of drum brakes can vary. Your brakes could start giving out at around 70,000 miles or last as long as 250,000. To play it safe, you can probably assume the average lifespan of your brakes is 120,000 and you need to get them checked by a mechanic at that time. 

However, you need to keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that can affect the amount of wear and tear your brakes experience. If you suspect that your brake systems are experiencing these, drop your average lifespan estimations a bit. 

Consider how often you have to use your brakes. Does your truck take long treks or shorter ones? If it’s the latter, your brakes are getting a lot more use and will need replacement sooner. 

Weather is another factor that can affect the wearing of your brakes. Extremely hot and cold weather patterns will have more of an adverse effect on your brakes than milder ones. 

You should also keep in mind how you’re treating your brakes. Do what you can to only use your brakes when it’s necessary. This should prevent them from wearing out too soon. 

2. You’re Hearing Grinding or Squealing 

It is not a good thing if you hear grinding or squealing any time you engage the brakes. Both of these noises indicate problems with your brake pads. More specifically, it means that your brake pads are in certain stages of wear. 

Squealing indicates that your brake pads are starting to wear thin. You might also notice an unusual amount of heat. You can wait a small amount to get your brake pads replaced after this, but don’t wait too long. 

Grinding indicates that your brake pads are completely gone and you’re driving with bare brakes. In this situation, you need to get your brake pads replaced immediately. Not doing so will cause more damage that you’ll need to pay more to repair. 

The best way to avoid hearing either squealing or grinding is to get your brake pads serviced around every 50,000 miles or less. 

3. Your Brake Is Too Hard or Too Easy to Press 

You should pay attention to how your brake feels when you press it down. If you do, you should be able to notice any difference in the brake pressure. A little bit of change is fine, but if it’s too hard or easy to press down, it can indicate a problem with your brakes. 

There are a few problems that can result in you having to push very hard or not too hard on the brakes. The air compressor may not be working, the compressed air reservoir is malfunctioning or moisture is getting into your brake lining. 

You may think it’s good that you don’t have to press down too hard to engage the brakes. However, the problems that caused this apparent bonus can quickly lead to bigger problems. Thus, you should want to fix it. 

4. You Feel Vibrations When You Press the Truck Brakes

Do you feel vibrations every time you engage the brakes? These issues indicate that your rotors are warped. The rotors are metal discs that are attached to your wheels and spin with them.

When you engage the brakes, the rotors are ‘grabbed’ and stopped. The stop remains smooth when the surfaces of the rotors are smooth. Repeated exposure to stressors can cause rotors to warp and the stop can cause vibrations. 

Rotors that are in this state need to be replaced. 

5. You Are Drifting to One Side

One of the problems that warped rotors can cause is uneven brake pads. The odd shape of the rotor can cause the brake pads to wear more on one side than the other or in other ways. Your brake pads can also wear unevenly for other reasons. 

Either way, when your pads are unevenly worn, you may be able to feel your vehicle drifting to one side after you brake. Replacing the brake pads and/or the rotors may be the best way to fix this issue. 

6. You Hear a Clicking Noise When You Engage the Brakes 

Your brake pads are held in place by spring clips. These wear down over time. Once they reach a certain limit, the brake pads can become loose and start clicking. 

You may not have to deal with the brake pads coming loose. However, when brake pads sit like this, they can wear unevenly and cause the drifting problem mentioned above. 

7. You Notice Warning Lights Flashing 

This one may seem obvious, but it’s still important to say. If you see the Antilock Braking System (ABS) and/or the brake warning light flashing, don’t ignore either of them. Get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. 

Stop By Our Location in Rocklin, CA for Diesel Truck Repair Services 

If you care about your truck, listen when it’s telling you something. When you do, you’re likely not just saving your truck but also several lives. 

When you find yourself needing your truck brakes replaced or any other service, stop by our Rocklin, CA location. We offer several diesel repair services including tires, brakes, engine repair, and other services. Make an appointment now and take advantage of our $99 oil change and 45-point courtesy check. 

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