During the 2022 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, issues with brake systems, service brakes, and tires accounted for more than half of all the out-of-service vehicle violations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
With CVSA International Roadcheck 2023 coming up soon, the team at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (Bendix) aims to help fleets and owner-operators prepare for the May 16-18 inspection blitz.
“So many aspects of safe vehicle operation are directly impacted by today’s braking systems and wheel-ends that you really can’t overstate the importance of keeping up with maintenance and inspection in those areas,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of demos, sales and service training. “Take this year’s special focus on antilock braking systems (ABS), for instance: A properly functioning ABS helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle during braking and serves as a foundation for more advanced safety systems like full stability and collision mitigation. That’s why these inspections matter so much, and why Bendix puts the word out with practical tips for being prepared and staying safe.”
What is International Roadcheck?
International Roadcheck is a 72-hour, high-visibility, high-volume commercial motor vehicle inspection and enforcement initiative. Commercial motor vehicle inspectors in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. will conduct North American Standard Inspections of commercial motor vehicles and drivers at weigh and inspection stations, on roving patrols, and at temporary inspection sites.
As a North American developer and manufacturer of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, Bendix supports CVSA’s goals, which ultimately enhance roadway safety for everyone.
Curious what you should expect during International Roadcheck 2023?
CVSA sponsors International Roadcheck with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators; Transport Canada; and the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation (Mexico). Inspectors examine large trucks and motorcoaches, along with driver documentation and credentials, using CVSA’s North American Standard Inspection Program procedures.
Vehicles that successfully pass a North American Standard Level I or Level V Inspection without any critical vehicle inspection item violations may receive a CVSA decal. In general, a vehicle with a valid CVSA decal will not be reinspected during the three months while the decal is valid. Instead, inspectors will focus their efforts on vehicles without a valid CVSA decal.
Shedding a Light on ABS
Bendix noted that this year’s Roadcheck will include a focus on violations involving ABS as indicated by warning lights in the cab or on the trailer.
“While these infractions aren’t typically categorized as out-of-service violations, the technology plays such an important role in driver and vehicle safety that every pre- and post-trip inspection should include checking ABS lamps to make sure they’re working," said Brian Screeton, manager – sales technical training at Bendix.
Since ABS activates only under specific conditions, it can be difficult for drivers to tell if the system is in good operating condition – that’s why CVSA will focus its inspections on the yellow or amber malfunction indicator light (MIL). In-cab, they’re easily spotted on the dashboard – they are standard lights and look the same on all vehicles.
Trailer ABS malfunction indicator lamps are located on the exterior near the red rear side marker lamp on the driver’s side; converter dollies also need to have the lamp located on the driver’s side. And they need to be clearly identified with the letters “ABS.”
Drivers who notice an ABS warning lamp while driving should note that it won’t affect standard service brake application, but ABS, electronic stability control (ESC), and collision mitigation technologies may not be fully functional. Bendix advises drivers to continue to the next safe stop and check out the situation there. When driving with an illuminated ABS light, drivers should plan to increase following distance behind vehicles, reduce speed, and avoid panic braking, which can lead to a potential loss of control; already-safe driving practices should be modified to even safer driving practices.
Once in the shop, the best initial step in troubleshooting an ABS lamp is to consult the appropriate diagnostic software and, as available, the applicable service documentation to diagnose the vehicle.
Tire Talk: Underinflation Impacts
Tires keep our trucks rolling. Underinflation carries particular risk, as low-pressure tires generate higher internal running temperatures, which can lead directly to blowouts. Additionally, the added stress and excess wear and tear reduce tire life span.
The American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council estimates that 20% underinflation can shorten tire life by 30%. Tire performance also impacts the performance of advanced safety components and technologies, including Reduced Stopping Distance-compliant brakes, air disc brakes, full stability, and advanced driver assistance systems.
“Of all a truck’s parts, the tires are the only ones that actually touch the road – and just because it’s obvious doesn’t make it any less true,” said Guangning Zhao, Bendix senior director, product group ABS, Valves and Modules, and Electronic Parking Brakes manager – sales technical training. “Tire condition and proper inflation are incredibly important to keeping drivers in control: It’s well-known in the industry that about 90% of tire failures can be attributed to underinflation, and almost half of all emergency service road calls are tire-related.”
A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) can help alleviate the problem of underinflation by providing real-time pressure alerts to the driver.
Getting Regular Brake Checks
Brake systems accounted for 24% of the 2022 International Roadcheck out-of-service vehicle violations – and yet many brake system issues are easily preventable through routine maintenance and regular checkups, noted Mark Holley, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, Wheel-End.
“Pre- and post-trip inspections can go a long way toward catching some obvious violations, including loose hoses or damaged components like air chambers or pushrods,” Holley said. “You can also spot adjustment issues if you notice slack adjusters that are extended at different angles on the same axle. It’s worth noting as well that if you’re using air disc brakes, their internal adjustment mechanism significantly lowers the risk of out-of-adjustment violations.”
In the garage, Holley noted four key points of air brake system inspection that relate directly to items typically inspected during Roadcheck. Technicians should:
- Conduct a brake application at a pressure above 80 psi and listen for leaks
- Measure chamber stroke at each wheel-end to ensure proper brake adjustment
- Examine friction for good condition (no lining cracks, missing portions, oil or grease contamination) and minimum thickness
- Measure and inspect each rotor and drum for wear and heat cracking and/or leopard spotting
If you notice it’s time for new brake friction, make sure to keep things up to spec: Not all friction that is marketed as “acceptable” under current Reduced Stopping Distance (RSD) regulations will actually perform to that standard. Whether you’re replacing air disc brake pads or drum brake shoes, select components that will ensure the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements are met, so that the vehicle remains compliant. If the friction needs to be replaced, it must be replaced on both sides of the axle.
“Similarly, when it comes to remanufactured drum brake shoes, ask your supplier whether they have been coined back to their OEM-engineered shape, and not simply relined with new friction,” Holley said. “Shoes become misshapen under the stress of regular use, and relining one of these without returning it to its original geometry can impact stopping power and friction life.”