Truck Brake Failure: Differences between Failure Modes for Drum and Disc Brakes
On-highway heavy trucks are fitted with air disc brakes with increasing frequency. Disc brakes and traditional air drum brakes have different adjustment and heat dissipation characteristics. These differences lead to different failure modes when overheated. This paper describes how adjustment and other in-use factors affect the general braking capability of on-highway trucks fitted with disc and drum brakes. Simulations of a loaded tractor-trailer on a long, down-hill grade are used to predict brake temperature increase over time, and how that temperature increase can result in a runaway condition. The tractor and trailer are modeled with both traditional drum brakes and new disc brakes to illustrate operational differences between the two brake types.