Skip to main content
  • Mitsubishi Fuso Authorized Dealer
    Established 1967
  • 1505 N 4th St. San Jose, CA
  • 408-263-7300
  • Inner Banner

Author: Shardul Gaikwad

How Do Air Brake Chambers Work and How to Test Them

Your air brake system performs many essential commercial truck functions, impacting service, parking, and emergency brake operation. Learning how air brake chambers work and how to test them is integral to brake performance and safety. Our heavy-duty truck maintenance team knows leaks can cause serious issues if ignored or overlooked. We’re here to help you keep your commercial vehicle running safely with these essential air brake maintenance tips.

How Air Brake Chambers Work

Heavy-duty vehicles that need significant, reliable stopping power use air brakes rather than hydraulic ones. When you press the pedal on an air brake system, air moves into the brake chamber turning the S-cam and pushing the pads against the drum to stop the vehicle. When you release the pedal, the brakes disengage. Unlike hydraulic brake systems, which can fail with leakage and low pressure, if the pressure in an air brake system is too low, the decrease will cause the springs to automatically engage (even if you’re not pressing the brake pedal). This mechanism allows for brake use in emergencies but also essentially grounds the vehicle until you fix the leak and restore air pressure. For this reason, routine air brake system checks are essential to diesel truck repair and maintenance.

Common Air Brake Chamber Issues

Air brake system DOT inspection violations are common. The most frequent culprits include leaks in:

  • Valves
  • Air lines
  • Hoses
  • Connections
  • Gladhand seals
  • Brake drums
  • Diaphragms

Monitoring for Air Brake Leakage Warning Signs

Routine monitoring is the best way to prevent air leaks and identify brake repair needs before they cause operational issues. Your first line of defense is daily monitoring for warning signs of air brake system leakage, such as:

  • Low air pressure
  • Kinks, wear, and visible damage to air brake system components
  • Air brake system takes longer than usual to charge
  • Loud hissing with service brake application
  • Loss of braking power with a squishy pedal feel
  • Smoking tires/tire fires from operating with low air pressure
  • Pushrod stroke limit measurements outside regulation parameters

How to Test Your Air Brake System

Our commercial truck maintenance and repair team also recommends routine physical air brake system inspections. To test your air brakes:

  1. Turn off your engine.
  2. Release your tractor protection/parking brake valve (yellow).
  3. Roll down the truck window, listening for air brake diaphragm or line leaks.
  4. Write down the current air pressure.
  5. Apply and hold the foot brake for one minute, noting any drop in pressure after brake use. If air brake system pressure drops more than three pounds, take your vehicle to your local diesel truck maintenance and repair shop for a closer inspection.

Need New Valves, Sensors, and Components?

We keep our massive 10,000-square-foot parts warehouse fully stocked with commercial truck parts to keep your rig running smoothly in and around Santa Clara, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and Santa Cruz. We can handle all your big truck parts and repair needs, from minor maintenance to major repairs and aftermarket accessory additions.

Ensure Reliable Braking with an Air Brake System Inspection and Maintenance

Are you short on time to learn how air brake chambers work and how to test them, experiencing problems with your air brake system, or need help ensuring adequate fleet maintenance? We can help. Contact Diamond Mitsubishi Fuso at 408-263-7300 to schedule an air brake system inspection today.

Safe Operation of a Liftgate

Are you new to driving a box truck with a liftgate? Liftgates offer an excellent solution for reducing labor and quickly moving cargo. However, as with any heavy machinery, the safe operation of a liftgate is essential. Liftgate injuries can be serious or life-threatening. You should only operate a liftgate when completely familiar with the equipment.

Don’t Neglect Training on Basic Liftgate Operation

Always ask for help if you’re unsure about using a liftgate. Our liftgate sales and installation team is here to help following your liftgate installation, inspections, or repairs. Check out this online video on operating the Maxon Railift, one of our most popular models, for tips on liftgate use – but please keep in mind models vary. Each type of liftgate presents unique hazards. We urge you to familiarize yourself with the instruction manual for your liftgate model, recommended guidelines, and safety/warning decals on your liftgate.

Always Check Liftgate Equipment Before Operation

Never operate the liftgate before inspecting it for damage. If you see any signs the liftgate requires maintenance, do not use it. Never attempt liftgate repair on your own. Our commercial truck service center offers authorized warranty repairs for many popular liftgate models. We provide fast service to return your commercial truck to safe operation.

Loading and Unloading Cargo with a Liftgate

When you load or unload cargo using the liftgate, make sure the truck is on a level surface, clear of obstacles, with the brakes engaged. Set out safety cones and alert bystanders to keep their distance, checking for proper clearance before lowering the lift. Stand to the liftgate’s side, operating using the control switches only. Move cargo only. Never drive a forklift onto the liftgate or use it to move personnel. Always stow and latch the liftgate platform when it’s not in use.

Ensure Proper Weight Distribution

Familiarize yourself with your liftgate’s weight capacity. Always compare it to your cargo weight before loading and unloading. Never exceed the recommended rate load capacity. Center each load on the platform evenly before moving items with the liftgate. Block-in cargo, securely stacking each piece in direct contact with the other and using straps and chocks to prevent shifting, tipping, and rolling in transit. If cargo falls – move out of the way. Never put yourself in harm’s way to save freight.

Maintain Awareness of Liftgate Pinch Points

Watch out for pinch points or areas where you could get caught in moving liftgate parts. Keep your body clear of liftgate components, paying particular attention to hands and feet when raising or lowering the liftgate. Never place any part of your body beneath a raised lift. Be alert when occupying the area between the liftgate and the truck, which is especially hazardous.

Ensure the safe operation of a liftgate with help from Diamond Mitsubishi Fuso. Contact us at 408-263-7300 to schedule liftgate inspection, service, or maintenance or to get additional instructions on liftgate use for your Santa Clara, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Cruz commercial truck today.

How Long Should Your Commercial Diesel Truck Last?

Heavy duty diesel semi-trucks are in a league of their own, built to withstand the relentless abuse of hefty cargo and long hours on the road. This extra durability translates to a longer service life – but just how long should your commercial diesel truck last? Many factors influence a vehicle’s lifespan.

Continue reading

Mitsubishi Fuso Authorized Dealer

Hours of Operation:

Mon – Fri: 8:00AM – 5:00PM

Weekends or After Hours by Appointment

Get Directions!

Diamond Mitsubishi Fuso

1505 N 4th St. San Jose, CA 95112

(408) 263-7300


Locate Us!