As spring is just around the corner, it’s come time once again to assess just what sort of toll winter has had on your brakes. Chemical de-icers and salts have been known to cause serious corrosion issues, particularly when they aren’t washed off regularly. In the Northwest, where record snowfalls fell this winter, combined with record cold temperatures at times, may have made truck washing difficult to impossible.

More recently, the Northeast has been socked with epic snowstorms, which kept many drivers off the roads for days. Now, those drivers will be scrambling to get back on schedule, which may not leave much time to get their trucks washed.

That’s all the more reason damage assessments on your rigs and trailers will be very important, particularly if the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s unannounced brake check day comes before its 30th annual Roadcheck – June 6-8, like it did last year. Then there’s CVSA Brake Safety Week. Last year, inspections held during brake safety week revealed brake–related out-of-service violations in 13.2 percent of vehicles – a slight increase compared to the previous year’s result. If those results are any indication, truck drivers and fleets would do well to look closely at potential damage from this year’s punishing winter conditions.

If you don’t already have a copy of the CVSA brochure on the North American Standard Inspection Program, get it and store it on your smartphone or laptop for easy reference. Or better yet, take it to a copy shop and have it printed and laminated – then you can access it anytime.

If you’re unsure where to start, look first for those conditions that would get your truck declared out-of-service by a roadside inspector. By fixing those issues first, you may improve your chances of keeping your truck on the road. When 20 percent or more of the service brakes on your truck or truck-trailer combination don’t work properly, you probably should expect to be sidelined. Plus, any inoperative brake or missing brake on either wheel of the front steering axle, or mismatched air chamber sizes, defective lining conditions or mismatched brake adjuster lengths on drum air brakes can lead to out-of-service violations. Similar defects found on air disc brakes and hydraulic brakes on the front steering axle can also get your truck 86’d from the road. Refer to FMCSR Section 396.3(a)(1) for more information.

Here are some other suggestions from brake manufacturers and service providers that we’ve seen published in several leading trade magazines like Fleet Maintenance and Heavy Duty Trucking:

Air compressor, air dryer, air dryer purge valve and air tanks

Brakes, brake components and wheel ends

Other suggestions

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