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How Do Air Brakes Work?

Air Brakes


It takes a lot of power to stop an 80,000-pound vehicle in its tracks, but that’s the magic of air brakes in action. But, just what are air brakes and how do they get such stopping power at a moment’s notice? The team at International Used Truck Centers is here to give you the basics of how air brakes work, so you can understand just how important they are for your travels. Let’s take a look at one of the most crucial components in your entire vehicle.

What are Air Brakes?

In a normal passenger car or light truck, you’ll typically find a hydraulic braking system. These braking systems rely on fluids in motion to generate the power needed to stop. But when you’re dealing with massive vehicles like International Trucks or Freightliners, you need a heavy-duty braking system to get the job done. That’s where air brakes come in. Instead of worrying about low braking fluids or leakages in the line, an air brake system uses air to power its brakes. This system is safer, more practical, and more reliable for a commercial vehicle.

How Do They Work?

So, how do air brakes work, and why are they so common in commercial trucks? Take a look at how air brakes work below:

  • The driver steps on the brakes and then air flows from the reservoir tank into the brake chamber.
  • This moves a piston downward, which also moves a slack adjuster and attached push rod.
  • The slack adjuster and pushrod set another rod into rotation.
  • The S-cam moves the brake shoes toward the brake, which slows the vehicle.
  • The truck comes to a full stop.

Air brakes can be used on both disc and drum brakes, and thanks to their simple operation, maintenance is simple. This means that commercial drivers get all the benefits of heavy-duty braking power and the convenience of low-maintenance design – which means more time can be spent on the roads!

Find Out More with International Used Truck Centers

Whether you have more questions about how air brakes work or you’re ready to upgrade your rig, visit International Used Truck Centers to see what we can do for you. Contact us today with any questions, and we’d be happy to help.

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International Used Truck Centers 41.776180, -88.200918.