What is a Jake Brake?

What is a Jake Brake?

Many trucks use Jake brakes to rule the road. What are they? Let’s find out.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What is a Jake Brake anyway?” It’s a compression release brake used to help truckers slow their truck down without unnecessarily wearing out their service brakes. Sometimes it’s also called an engine brake, and you’ll see it in many large diesel engines that come on semi-trucks.

So there you go, we’ve answered the age-old “what is a Jake Brake” question. There’s plenty more to Jake Brakes though, so let’s take a deeper dive into how they work and any other questions you may have about this kind of brake that truckers often rely on to keep themselves safe.

How Do They Work?

You can’t really answer the “what is a Jake Brake” question without explaining how they work. Truck drivers can enable their Jake Brake simply by flipping the engine brake switch. After that, they just have to take the pressure off their accelerator—the brake will be deactivated once the driver uses their accelerator or clutch again. 

Here’s how it works. Air is forced into the engine cylinders while a semi-truck drives, which causes the air to compress and then convert into energy that can be distributed. Typically, pistons use that energy to help produce power behind the vehicle. When you use a Jake Brake, though, the air is pushed through the exhaust valves to create drag on the crankshaft, which slows the vehicle down without creating friction on the service brakes.

Are They Legal?

An experienced truck driver will have noticed signs that may say something like “engine brakes prohibited” or “trucks please no jake brake.” Why would they be prohibited if they’re useful in stopping a semi-truck? Because they make so much noise! That loud noise has caused many localities to restrict the use of Jake Brakes, particularly near residential areas that are close to interstates. You may experience a fine or jail time if you ignore these rules, though if it’s an emergency and you’re left with no other option, there are usually exceptions put into place.

Will it Hurt the Engine?

If you’re using your Jake Brakes correctly, it shouldn’t do any damage to your truck’s engine. Just make sure that you check your oil before you go out on a trip. This is because if you do use your engine brake with low oil, damage can happen. Another tip is to make sure your engine is warmed up before you try to use your Jake Brake, as a cold engine brake will also cause damage. Lastly, don’t let the weight of the truck going downhill to push the RPMs over your engine’s RPM limit, which can cause additional damage to your Jake Brake or engine.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 13th, 2023 at 9:37 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.