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Fleets: Get Ready for Brake Safety Week with this Checklist

Posted August 27, 2019


On April 25, 2018, over 11,000 trucks were pulled over for surprise brake checks during Brake Safety Day from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). Almost 1,600 (14 percent) of those trucks were immediately placed out of service for brake violations. For 2019, commercial drivers face a full week of surprise inspections from September 15 to 21. In order to prevent costly delays, fleets should inspect all brake systems now, paying special attention to the brake hoses/tubing. 

Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles. The brake systems on commercial motor vehicles are comprised of components that work together to slow and stop the vehicle and brake hoses/tubing are essential for the proper operation of those systems. Brake hoses/tubing must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks and appropriately flexible. Brake hoses/tubing are an important part of the braking system so when they do fail, they can cause problems for the rest of the braking system. 


The following information is sourced from the CVSA Brake Inspection Checklist. To check a commercial vehicle’s breaks, you will need blocks/chocks, chalk, a small ruler, and either a brake application device or a second person to assist. 


Before Inspection

  • Ensure you are parked on a level road surface 
  • Block/chock both the tractor and trailer wheels 
  • Check air pressure – should be 90-100 psi 
  • Turn off engine and remove keys 
  • Release parking brakes 
  • Confirm each brake is in the normal, released position 
  • Listen for hissing, indicating an air leak 


Brake Inspection Checklist

  • Look for places where the air hoses rub against other components 
  • Check for hoses that are worn to a second color or that have visible nylon braids 
  • Ensure that there are no broken, damaged, or missing components 
  • Measure the Air Drum brake pad – must be above 1/4 inch 
  • Measure Air Disk brake – must be above 1/8 inch  
  • Check for cracked brake pads/lining  
  • Check for rust-jacked lining from shoe 
  • Look for worn bushings from too much movement on the camshaft  
  • Ensure that the drum is not rusted from inoperative brakes 
  • Check for external cracks on the brake drum 
  • Check for a rusted brake chamber 
  • Measure the push-rod travel stroke 


Steps to Measure the Push-Rod Travel Stroke

  1. Check that air pressure is holding at 90-100 psi 
  2. Ensure parking brakes are released 
  3. Make a chalk mark on each push-rod at the rear of the brake chamber 
  4. Using a brake application device or with the help of an assistant, apply full brake application 
  5. Measure the distance from the chalk mark to the rear of the brake chamber 
  6. Ensure that the measurement is within the Department of Transportation’s standards for brake chamber type and size (see table) 
  7. If brakes are out of adjustment, do not adjust themHave brakes checked and repaired. 

Brake chamber type and size table


Have a Productive Brake Safety Week 

If last year was any indication, this year’s brake safety checks could be hugely disruptive to fleets. Use this checklist to ensure that your fleet stays moving and productive during Brake Safety Week 2019. 


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