10 Ways to Fail a Brake Inspection

BrakeSafety-03

What common issues frequently result in failed brake inspections, out-of-service notices, or accumulation of CSA violation points? Does being issued a citation for a brake violation mean your vehicle is automatically placed out-of-service? Did you know that for vehicles placed Out-of-Service, nearly half are due to brake-related violations?

After reading this article, you will have a good understanding of what inspectors look for during a brake inspection as well as tips on what you, as a driver or technician, can do to help maintain a safe and compliant brake system.

Additionally, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) works to educate and remind fleets, drivers and technicians of the importance of properly installed and maintained brakes. Each year, they conduct an annual Brake Safety Week campaign. For 2016 this will be held during the week of September 11-17. Be prepared for commercial motor vehicle inspectors to be conducting brake system inspections on trucks and buses.

Citations and Out-of-Service Orders – What’s the Difference?

Keep in mind that the criteria for an CVSA’s out-of-service order can be different from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSA) inspection requirements.The two documents are very similar and follow the same inspection procedures, but out-of-service criteria is  used in random roadside inspections to identify critical vehicle inspection items. An inspection may find violations that result in a citation or an accumulation of CSA points, but this does not necessarily mean the vehicle will be placed out-of-service. An out-of-service order occurs only when a vehicle is considered so unsafe it is likely to cause an accident.

 

So, here we go – You know you might fail a brake inspection if:

EPIC FAIL # 1: Your air-braked commercial vehicle is not equipped with self-adjusting brakes / automatic slack adjuster. 

The FMCSA Regulation: § 393.53: Automatic brake adjusters and brake adjustment indicators.
393.53(b), Every commercial vehicle manufactured on or after October 20, 1994 and equipped with an air brake system must be equipped with Automatic Slack Adjusters.

Brake Safety Tip:

  • Use a tool such as a Brake Slack Checker to check brake adjustment. This Brake tool works on manual or automatic slack adjusters on class 7 & 8 trucks and trailers with S-cam brakes. Around $42 from RYDER Fleet Products.

SHOP Brake Slack Adjusters >


 

EPIC FAIL # 2: The thickness of the brake lining/pads is less than the allowed regulations.

The FMCSA Regulation: §393.47 Brake actuators, slack adjusters, linings/pads and drums/rotors
393.47(d): Thickness of the brake lining/pad shall meet the applicable requirements:

(1) Steering axle brake lining/pad thickness

  • Shoe center with continuous strip; shall not be less than 3/16
  • Shoe center with two pads; shall not be less than ¼
  • Air disk brakes; shall not be less than 1/8
  • Hydraulic disk & electric brakes; shall not be less than 1/16

(2) Non-steering axle brakes

  • Shoe center for drum brakes; shall not be less than ¼
  • Air disk brakes; shall not be less than 1/8
  • Hydraulic disk & electric brakes; shall not be less than 1/16

 

  • Brake Safety Tip:
    To quickly and accurately measure remaining brake lining, use a brake measuring tool such as the Pocket Tech Brake Lining Gauge. Gives an exact measurement of the remaining lining (measures in 32nds) and is especially compatible with air ride suspensions. It’s around $21,  is simple to use and is invaluable when performing heavy duty truck maintenance.

SHOP Hydraulic Brake Pads >   |   Air Disk Brake Pads >


 

EPIC FAIL # 3: Drums worn below the drum manufacturer’s limits.

In addition to measuring drum thickness, also inspect to make sure that no portion of the drum or rotor is missing or in danger of falling away.

The FMCSA Regulation:  §393.47 Brake actuators, slack adjusters, linings/pads and drums/rotors
393.47 (g): Thickness of the drums shall not be less than the limits established by the drum manufacturer.

  • Brake Safety Tip:
    Assess drum wear  without wheel or brake drum removal with a brake tool designed specifically for vehicle maintenance inspection. We recommend the Air Brake Measure Tool  from Brake Tech Tools. It’s less than $23, eliminates guesswork and saves on labor costs. Also measures remaining brake lining.

 

SHOP Brake Drums  and Brake Rotors  from top manufacturers
including Bendix, Webb Wheel and Performance Friction >


 

EPIC FAIL # 4: Your ABS Malfunction Indicator light is broken.

Although on it own, this violation  may not cause a failed inspection or an out-of-service notice, an ABS malfunction indicator light that does not work can certainly affect CSA scores and carries a severity level of 4.

The FMCSA Regulation:  §393.55  Antilock Brake Systems
393.55(b): ABS malfunction indicators for hydraulic braked vehicles. Each hydraulic braked vehicle subject to the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section shall be equipped with an ABS malfunction indicator system that meets the requirements of FMVSS No. 105 (49 CFR 571.105, S5.3)

393.55(d) Antilock brake systems (ABS) malfunction circuits & signals for air brake systems
(1) Tractors manufactured on or after March 1, 1997 shall be equipped with an electrical
circuit capable of signaling a malfunction on the Tractor’s dash (ABS malfunction
light); (2) & (3) Tractors manufactured on or after March 1, 2001, pulling a Trailer with ABS(manufactured on or after March 1, 2001), shall be equipped with an electrical circuit capable of transmitting a malfunction signal to the Trailer’s malfunction lamp in the Tractor cab (ABS trailer malfunction dash light)

  • Brake Safety Tip:
    Also check that the ABS light on the exterior of the trailer is working. (This is an amber light located on the driver side at the rear).

 

EPIC FAIL # 5: Operating with a cracked, broken or crimped air hose or brake tube.

Also against regulation are hoses that bulge or swell when air pressure is applied;  improperly joined hoses (such as a splice made by sliding the hose ends over a piece of tubing and clamping the hose to the tube); and hoses/tubes with audible leaks.

The FMCSA Regulation: 393.45 Brake tubing & hoses 
(b)(1) Be long & flexible enough to accommodate without damage…
(b)(2) Be secured against chaffing, kinking, or other mechanical damage

  • Brake Safety Tip:
    Use Zip Ties to secure hoses against chaffing or dragging.

SHOP Brake Hoses >


 

EPIC FAIL # 6: You have missing or broken mechanical components such as:

  • Brake shoes
  • Lining pads
  • Springs
  • Anchor pins
  • Spiders
  • Cam rollers
  • Push rods
  • Air chamber mounting bolts

The FMCSA Regulation: Part 399; Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III—Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards

A vehicle does not pass an inspection if it has one of the following defects or deficiencies: 1. Brake System – (a)Service brakes. (2) Missing or broken mechanical components including: shoes, lining, pads, springs, anchor pins, spiders, cam rollers, push-rods, and air chamber mounting bolts.


 

EPIC FAIL # 7: Brake linings or pads are saturated with oil, grease or brake fluid.

The FMCSA Regulation: Part 399; Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III—Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards
A vehicle does not pass an inspection if it has one of the following defects or deficiencies: 1. Brake System – (a)Service brakes. (6) Brake linings or pads (b) Saturated with oil, grease, or brake fluid.


 

EPIC FAIL # 8: Inoperable or missing tractor protection valve on power unit

The FMCSA Regulation:Part 399; Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III—Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards
A vehicle does not pass an inspection if it has one of the following defects or deficiencies: 1. Brake System – (g) Tractor Protection Valve. Inoperable or missing tractor protection valve(s) on power unit.


 

EPIC FAIL # 9: Your Air Compressor  has lose or cracked parts such as:

  • Lose compressor mounting bolts
  • Cracked, broken or loose pulley
  • Cracked or broken mounting brackets, braces or adapters
  • Compressor drive belts in condition of impending or probable failure

The FMCSA Regulation:  Part 399; Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III—Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards

A vehicle does not pass an inspection if it has one of the following defects or deficiencies: 1. Brake System – (h) Air Compressor. (1) Compressor drive belts in condition of impending or probable failure. (2) Loose compressor mounting bolts. (3) Cracked, broken or loose pulley. (4) Cracked or broken mounting brackets, braces or adapters.


 

EPIC FAIL # 10: Stroke length exceeds regulations

For automatic slack adjusters, if the stroke exceeds the readjustment limit specified by the FMCSA.

The FMCSA Regulation: §393.47 Brake actuators, slack adjusters, linings/pads and drums/rotors
393.47 (e) Clamp, Bendix DD-3, bolt-type, and rotochamber brake actuator readjustment limits. (1) The pushrod stroke must not be greater than the values specified at §393.47(e).

 

Brake Safety Tip:

  • Do not manually adjust self-adjusting brake adjusters to correct excessive pushrod stroke. Overstroking usually indicates that something else is  going on or that there is a problem with the brake or the adjuster. An adjustment will not fix the underlying problem and could actually make it worse.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) warns that manually adjusting self adjusting brake adjusters is dangerous, and instead recommends having the brakes checked for possible defects.

 

This article provides a brief overview of the brake system and is not intended to cover every brake violation and its’ consequences. Most of the information provided in this article is readily available from the Operation Airbrake / Brake Safety Week  section of the CVSA website or the Brake Regulations section of the FMCSA website. We recommend both of these great resources for learning more, clarifying details, and for studying the regulations.

For learning more about the CSA, SMS scores and preparing for roadside inspections, read  JJ Keller’s “CSA Handbook – a Complete Guide for CMV Drivers“.  Less than $7.00, this handbook is a great value for educating professional drivers on the CSA safety performance measurement and scoring system and what they can do to avoid the “high-severity” violations.

Let us know in the comments section below what your experience has been with brake inspections. How do you stay on top of the regulations? What is your biggest brake system issue or challenge? Do you find it hard to keep track of the different acronyms  such as FMCSA, CVSA and CSA and to know who does what?


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One thought on “10 Ways to Fail a Brake Inspection

  1. I never knew that there was an actual brake measuring tool, I’ll have to see if my husband owns one. He said that his brakes have been acting weird, so I think it’ll be good to check them out. If anything, we could go in to see a professional for help as well.

    Like

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