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Basic CDL Air Brake Components | Air Brake Smart

Learn about air brake basics - watch the video!! CDL IN-CAB Air Brake CHECKLIST:  SUBSCRIBE TODAY! ►  

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There are 6 basic components on an air brake equipped vehicle:

1) compressor;
2) governor;
3) air tanks;
4) air lines;
5) brake pedal;
6) foundation brakes.

The air compressor on an air brake equipped vehicle is exactly the same as an air compressor you would find in a garage. The only difference is that an air compressor on an air brake equipped vehicle runs the entire time the motor is running; therefore, it is controlled by the governor.

The governor controls the maximum and minimum setting of the air compressor because the air compressor is capable of pumping up to 500psi (pounds per square inch). The governor must return the air compressor to the load or cut-in phase by a minimum of 80psi. And it must return the air compressor to the cut-out or unload phase by a maximum pressure of 135psi.

All air brake systems are equipped with a safety valve, which blows off excess pressure at 150psi. You will know it is the safety valve because it makes a sound like a machine gun.

The air tanks or reservoirs store compressed air. 
As well, the air tanks are the first fail-safe of the air brake system because these store enough compressed air for 10-12 full service brake applications.

The air lines direct compressed air through the air brake system. The air lines are not coloured coded except the service and supply lines that connect the semi-trailer to the tractor or truck.

The brake pedal applies the service brakes, which are the brakes that bring the vehicle to a stop while it's going up and down the road.

And the foundation brakes are the components of the air brake system that are actually responsible for bringing the vehicle to a stop:

• brake chambers
• push rod
• slack adjuster
• 'S' cam
• brake shoes (pads)
• brake drum
• rotor
• callipers

And the foundation brakes can be any of the following; however, drum and disc brakes are most common on today's vehicles:

• drum ('S' cam) brakes
• disc brakes
• wedge brakes
• CamLaster brakes
• air-over-hydraulic brakes

The foundation brakes—in this day & age—will be 2 basic types: drum or disc brakes. Foundation brakes also consist of air-over-hydraulic and wedge brakes - you will need to know the latter for the purposes of the air brake knowledge test.

Good luck on your road test!

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