Air disc brakes are a hot topic within the trucking industry. With Brake Safety Week imminent (going from August 22nd to August 28th), air disc brakes could be do or die for truckers. Mark Holley, the Bendix wheel end director of marketing, claims that controlled braking allows truckers to “know they’ve got a better performing brake.” Therefore, “it gives them peace of mind.” Joe Kay, from Meritor’s front drivetrain engineering division, believes the appeal comes from “linear torque output offers ride and handling characteristics that are closer to that of a passenger car.” Quite flexible if you ask me.
However, there should still be caution in deciding whether or not air disc brakes are a good fit for everybody.
Holley himself says “there’s still going to be some applications out there that are going to prefer drum.” Drum brakes, thankfully, are a product Bendix can deliver to the trucking prosumer as well. Meanwhile, the good folks at Meritor “recommend that fleets evaluate their duty cycles and lifecycle costs in determining the right brake package for their fleets.” Different feet use different shoes, I suppose. But what else can rationalize brakes?
They’re relatively inexpensive and also just about ten pounds less heavy than models of the past. They don’t truly compare to the weight advantage that air disc brakes may lack over drum brakes.
Brake manufacturers tend to believe that likely it won’t be worth swapping drum brakes for air disc brakes. To make the switch is to make life a little more complicated for everyone involved overall.
Factor in the Return On Investment differences found between air disc and drum brakes and there’s more to it than meets the eye. If one turns out to be more reliable than the other. A lot of reasons to choose one over the other.