How to Fix Frozen Trailer Brakes | Free Frozen Brakes on a Tractor Trailer
We're approaching winter weather, and folks, let's answer some questions you might have about frozen trailer brakes, and how you can fix them!
What makes trailer brakes freeze?
Two things make trailer brakes freeze. The first thing that freezes brakes is an extended period when the trailer is left unused. When brakes are unused, they can accumulate moisture in the air system, which can freeze and restrict airflow to the brakes. The second thing that freezes is your brake linings freezing to your brake drums.
Can I stop my trailer brakes from freezing?
You can prevent ice in your airlines by draining your air tanks daily. Some good times to do so are: during your post-trip inspection or while fueling when your truck is warm. A warm truck allows the water trapped in the airlines to drain freely. Unfortunately, there is little to be done about brake linings freezing to brake drums. Sadly, we have yet to find a way to stop Mother Nature.
Should I worry about frozen trailer brakes?
If you have frozen trailer brakes, your tires will drag when you drive, not roll. When your tires drag on any surface while you are empty or loaded, it leads to flat spots on your tires, as pictured below. Flat spots on your tires will likely have to be placed out of service.
Can my disc brakes freeze?
Typically, disc brakes do not freeze in the winter.
How do I know if my trailer brakes are frozen?
You can determine whether or not your brakes are frozen by utilizing the yellow anti-skid indicators that can be seen in the picture below. Anti-skid indicators allow you to look into your mirrors and be confident whether or not your tires are rolling.
What should I do if there is ice in my air system?
If you have determined that you have ice in your airline, you need to contact a third-party vendor to get maintenance done. Please do not put airline antifreeze into the trailer air systems, as it can affect the operations of ABS valves.
What should I do if my brake linings are stuck?
If you have determined that your brake linings are frozen to your brake drums, you will first ensure that your parking brake is set on your tractor. Then, you will push the red button pictured below to supply air to your trailer. Doing this will make your s-cam turn to allow the brake lines to pull away from the brake drums.
After that, you will need to grab a hammer and some safety glasses. Once you have those items, lay down on the ground underneath your trailer and identify where your brake drums and brake lining are. Then, take your hammer and tap on the outside edge of an effected brake drum. Be sure that when tapping, you are careful not to hit the brake lines. If the brake lining becomes cracked, your trailer will be put out of service.
If you hear a dull thud when you tap, that indicates your lining is still frozen to your drum. Next, tap on the brake drum until you notice the brake lining has come free. When you tap and hear more of a ring or an echo, that means your brake lining is free. When done, all of your wheel groups should be moving freely. Congrats! You freed frozen brakes on a tractor trailer.
Safety is our top priority. Diligence about safety is especially important in adverse weather conditions. If you want to spread the safety share this with your friends, family and fellow drivers!
Want to learn more? Follow the link and watch our YouTube video "How to Fix Frozen Trailer Brakes | Free Frozen Brakes on a Tractor Trailer".