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Parts Of An Air-Brake System: Part 6

5.1.15 – Parking Brake Controls

In newer vehicles with air brakes, you put on the parking brakes using a diamond-shaped, yellow, push-pull control knob. You pull the knob out to put the parking brakes (spring brakes) on and push it in to release them. On older vehicles, the parking brakes may be controlled by a lever. Use the parking brakes whenever you park.

Caution: Never push the brake pedal down when the spring brakes are on. If you do, the brakes could be damaged by the combined forces of the springs and the air pressure. Many brake systems are designed so this will not happen. But not all systems are set up that way, and those that are may not always work. It is much better to develop the habit of not pushing the brake pedal down when the spring brakes are on.

Modulating Control Valves. In some vehicles, a control handle on the dashboard may be used to apply the spring brakes gradually. This is called a “modulating valve.” It is spring-loaded, so you have a feel for the braking action. The more you move the control lever, the harder the spring brakes come on. They work this way so you can control the spring brakes if the service brakes fail. When parking a vehicle with a modulating control valve, move the lever as far as it will go and hold it in place with the locking device.

Dual Parking Control Valves. When main air pressure is lost, the spring brakes come on. Some vehicles, such as buses, have a separate air tank which can be used to release the spring brakes. This is so you can move the vehicle in an emergency. One of the valves is a push-pull type and is used to put on the spring brakes for parking.

The other valve is spring-loaded in the “out” position. When you push the control in, air from the separate air tank releases the spring brakes so you can move. When you release the button, the spring brakes come on again. There is only enough air in the separate tank to do this a few times. Therefore, plan carefully when moving. Otherwise, you may be stopped in a dangerous location when the separate air supply runs out.

5.1.16 – Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)

Truck tractors with air brakes built on or after March 1, 1997, and other air brakes vehicles (trucks, buses, trailers and converter dollies) built on or after March 1, 1998, are required to be equipped with antilock brakes. Many commercial vehicles built before these dates have been voluntarily equipped with ABS. Check the certification label for the date of manufacture to determine if your vehicle is equipped with ABS. ABS is a computerized system that keeps your wheels from locking up during hard brake applications.

Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you if something is not working. Tractors, trucks, and buses will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the instrument panel.

Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left side, either on the front or rear corner. Dollies manufactured on or after March 1, 1998, are required to have a lamp on the left side.

On newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up for a bulb check and then goes out quickly. On older systems, the lamp could stay on until you are driving over 5 mph.

If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once you are underway, you may have lost ABS control at one or more wheels.

In the case of towed units manufactured before it was required by the Department of Transportation, it may be difficult to tell if the unit is equipped with ABS. Look under the vehicle for the electronic control unit (ECU) and wheel speed sensor wires coming from the back of the brakes.

ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when wheels are about to lock up.

ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but it helps you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #263 (1 of 5)

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ABS is:

  • A computerized system that keeps your wheels from locking up during hard brake applications
  • A system that works in parallel with your normal air brakes. It is operated by hydraulics and it adds braking force to the air brake system.
  • All of these are correct
  • A computerized system that will always help your vehicle stop faster than without antilock brakes
ABS is a computerized system that keeps your wheels from locking up during hard brake applications
It's important to remember that ABS (antilock braking systems) will not always allow your vehicle to stop faster. It's designed to prevent the tires from locking up during braking. You may lose control of the vehicle if the wheels lock up.
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Question #262 (2 of 5)

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In newer vehicles with air brakes, you put on the parking brakes:

  • Using a diamond-shaped, yellow, push-pull control knob. You push the knob in to put the parking brakes (spring brakes) on and pull the knob out to release them
  • using a square-shaped, orange, push-pull control knob. You pull the knob out to put the parking brakes (spring brakes) on and push it in to release them
  • Using a diamond-shaped, yellow, push-pull control knob. You pull the knob out to put the parking brakes (spring brakes) on and push it in to release them
  • None of these are correct
In newer vehicles with air brakes, you put on the parking brakes using a diamond-shaped, yellow, push-pull control knob. You pull the knob out to put the parking brakes (spring brakes) on and push it in to release them
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Question #266 (3 of 5)

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Which of the following are true about ABS?

  • ABS only activates when wheels are about to lock up.
  • All these are correct
  • ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease or increase your normal braking capability.
  • ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but it helps you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when wheels are about to lock up. ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but it helps you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking. ABS only activates when wheels are about to lock up.
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Question #265 (4 of 5)

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On newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up for a bulb check and then goes out quickly. If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once you are underway:

  • The ABS is functioning correctly
  • You may have lost ABS control at one or more wheels.
  • You have lost your brakes completely. You must immediately downshift to slow the vehicle and get parked safely.
  • None of these are correct
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once you are underway, you may have lost ABS control at one or more wheels. On newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up for a bulb check and then goes out quickly. If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once you are underway, you may have lost ABS control at one or more wheels.
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Question #264 (5 of 5)

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Which of the following is true about ABS?

  • Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left side, either on the front or rear corner
  • All of these are true
  • Tractors, trucks, and buses will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the instrument panel.
  • Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you if something is not working.
Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you if something is not working. Tractors, trucks, and buses will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the instrument panel. Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left side, either on the front or rear corner.
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