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Maintenance is key to surviving International Roadcheck: Bendix

ELYRIA, Ohio – Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems have once again rolled out a list of tips for all fleets and owner-operators to help them get through the annual International Roadcheck.

This year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck is set for June 6-8.

“Roadcheck covers just three days, but being prepared and running safe, well-maintained trucks requires year-round attention,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of government and industry affairs. “Bendix’s dedication to safety – like that of our partners and fleets, owner-operators, and drivers everywhere – never takes a break.”

Most of these vehicles during the 72-hour program will undergo the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection, a 37-step procedure reviewing both driver operating requirements and a vehicle’s mechanical fitness. This year’s program includes a special emphasis on cargo securement – but that doesn’t mean there will be less scrutiny of brake and wheel-end issues. During last year’s International Roadcheck, brake adjustment and brake system violations combined to represent 45.7 percent of the violations that led to vehicles being placed out-of-service.

Regular and thorough maintenance is a key component of safe commercial vehicle operation, and Bendix stresses a two-level approach.

On one level is the pre-trip visual inspection: Professional drivers never get behind the wheel without a walk-around look for loose hoses, damaged or dangling brake components like air chambers and pushrods, and similar obvious problems. If a vehicle is equipped with an active safety system that includes a forward-facing radar unit or camera, these components need to be kept clear of obstructions like snow, ice, and road debris.

The second level is preventive maintenance – the regularly scheduled, bumper-to-bumper review of a vehicle. Where the air brakes are concerned, in-the-shop inspections should include conducting a 90 to 100 psi brake application and listening for leaks; examining friction for minimum thickness and good condition; checking rotors or drums for signs of dragging brakes or friction issues; and measuring the chamber stroke at each wheel-end to make sure the brakes are in proper adjustment. Violations in any of these categories can lead to fines or being placed out-of-service under CVSA guidelines.

Additionally, if it’s time to replace any parts of the braking system – particularly in the case of relining brakes – Bendix stresses the importance of selecting components that will ensure the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements are met. Similarly, when considering remanufactured brake shoes for drum brakes, fleets and owner-operators should choose providers that re-coin shoes back to their OEM-engineered shape, versus those that just reline shoes with new friction. Because even normal use exposes brake shoes to tremendous force and temperature changes over their life cycle, deformation occurs over time.

“Achieving the best, safest performance from a braking system means getting the most out of each part,” said Keith McComsey, director, marketing and customer solutions, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake (BSFB). “And it continues up the line with connected safety systems: Just like the stopping power of a high performance brake can be undercut by inferior friction or a twisted shoe, the effectiveness of a full-stability or collision mitigation system will be negatively impacted if the brakes aren’t performing at their peak.”

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