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Perform these checks in addition to Section 5.3: Inspecting Air Brake Systems. The following section explains how to check air brakes on combination vehicles. Check the brakes on a double or triple trailer as you would any combination vehicle.
Check That Air Flows to All Trailers. Use the tractor parking brake and/or chock the wheels to hold the vehicle. Wait for air pressure to reach normal and then push in the red “trailer air supply” knob. This will supply air to the emergency (supply) lines. Use the trailer hand brake (if equipped) to provide air to the service line. Go to the rear of the rig. Open the emergency line shut-off valve at the rear of the last trailer (if equipped). You should hear air escaping, showing the entire system is charged. Close the emergency line valve. Open the service line valve to check that service pressure goes through all the trailers (this test assumes that the trailer hand brake or the service brake pedal is on) and then close the valve. If you do NOT hear air escaping from both lines, check that the shut-off valves on the trailer(s) and dolly(ies) are in the OPEN position. You MUST have air all the way to the back for all the brakes to work.
Test Tractor Parking Valve. Charge the trailer air brake system. (That is, build up normal air pressure and push the “air supply” knob in.) Shut the engine off. Step on and off the brake pedal several times to reduce the air pressure in the tanks. The trailer air supply control (also called the tractor parking valve control) should pop out (or go from “normal” to “emergency” position) when the air pressure falls into the pressure range specified by the manufacturer (usually within the range of 20 to 45 psi).
If the tractor parking valve does not work right, an air hose or a trailer brake leak could drain all the air from the tractor. This would cause the emergency brakes to come on, with possible loss of control.
Test Trailer Emergency Brakes. Charge the trailer air brake system and check that the trailer rolls freely. Then stop and pull out the trailer air supply control (also called tractor parking valve control or trailer emergency valve) or place it in the “emergency” position. Pull gently on the trailer with the tractor to check that the trailer emergency brakes are on.
Test Trailer Service Brakes. Check for normal air pressure, release the parking brakes, move the vehicle forward slowly and apply trailer brakes with the hand control (trolley valve), if so equipped. You should feel the brakes come on. This tells you the trailer brakes are connected and working. (The trailer brakes should be tested with the hand valve but controlled in normal operation with the foot pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all wheels.)
When inspecting the air brakes of a combination vehicle you will pump the brake pedal continuously to reduce the air pressure in the air tanks. What should happen when the air pressure gets down between 20 - 45 psi?
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