Preventing Air Brake Freezing

As a long-haul trucker, it’s hard to overstate the importance of daily vehicle maintenance. Regular care and upkeep are essential to keeping your truck in top condition and keeping you safe on the road. Regular maintenance tasks, such as removing the water from the air brake system, play an important part in overall safety and care. With the weather getting colder, frozen air brakes are a real concern. Here are some tips to help avoid that particular hazard.

Environmental Hazards

During the winter, the cold isn’t your only concern. The air compressor in your truck’s engine compartment pulls in the outside air as your truck runs. In the winter, de-icing agents and chemicals see common use and could be in the air that enters your truck’s various systems. While the use of such chemicals is unavoidable due to the need for road safety, they can be hazardous to your air brake system. De-icing agents mixed with water and oil vapor can collect in your truck’s wet tank, forming a watery sludge. The contents of your wet tank can even freeze in very cold conditions, causing your air brakes to also become frozen. This renders your truck unable to move. Due to repeated stopping during transport, the increased airflow results in more waste collecting in your wet tank. This has led to trucks becoming inoperable during transport, resulting in road calls.

Preventing Frozen Air Brakes

When hauling, keeping your brakes from freezing is a key concern for winter driving. Your air dryer should be serviced regularly, and the air dryer cartridge changed once per year to ensure reliable operation. Regular draining to remove water is also critical. Various draining methods include:

  • Manual Draining: Done daily, this method involves manually draining the water from the wet tank. This affordable solution is often missed as an option during daily operations.
  • Alcohol Evaporator Method: This freezing-prevention measure involves adding alcohol to the water tank to prevent freezing. While proven effective, this method can cause increased wear on components of your air brake system, leading to early replacement needs. This method also increases the need for regular maintenance.
  • Automatic Drain Valves: This method solves the water issue by adding a valve that manages the water for you. This saves work and is efficient — however, it can be a pricey solution.

The winter can be a hazardous time when driving, and keeping your air brakes in top working order is an important part of the job. Performing regular maintenance and ensuring the water is always properly drained from your wet tank can prevent freezing and associated road hazards.