What Rookies Need to Know About The Jake Brake

The jake brake or engine brake is an invaluable tool available to professional truck drivers. It is typically used for slowing down your rig in certain situations. It is not intended to replace your service brake, however. It uses your diesel engine’s power to slow your truck. Some truckers might use their jake brake on dangerous snowy roads or during severe storms. However, in recent years they have become a thoroughly debated topic among those in the trucking industry. Here is what rookies need to know about the jake brake.

What Rookies Need to Know About The Jake Brake

10 Tips and Tricks For Using The Jake Brake:

    1. The engine brake is excellent to use in normal conditions at virtually anytime you need to slow down.
    2. If you use the engine brake correctly on mountain roads, it could add years to your brake shoes.
    3. It can prevent brake fires that are caused by leaving the top of a grade too fast, resulting in too much pressure on the brake pedal.
    4. Do not use the jake brake when the engine is cold.
    5. Always check to see if your engine is low on oil.
    6. In position 3 the engine brake is strongest, and positions 1 & 2 are used for better road conditions.
    7. Test your engine brake at the beginning of your trip once the engine is at operating temperature to ensure it is working properly.
    8. It runs on a ‘no fuel position’ meaning your foot is off the gas pedal. To activate you will take your foot off the gas when the jake brake is left on (it can be turned on and off as required).
    9. When driving down the mountain, it is preferred to start downgrade and allow the jake brake to do 90% of the work and only tap the brake pedal as needed. 
    10. Please don’t use it in a truck stop parking lot!

How to Use The Jake Brake

  • Leave it on
  • Flip it on as needed

Some truck drivers like to switch it to one when they start driving and leave it on. While others prefer to switch it on somewhere in the middle of their shift, as needed. Some say that it messes with shifting gears, but this is up to your preference and rig.

However, the consensus is that it is a convenient tool when needing to slow down a truck and many couldn’t do without it.

The ‘No Jake Brake’ Signs

Ok, now we are going to go into the debate itself that we mentioned at the top of this piece. If you have your CDL, you have probably noticed the ‘no jake brake’ signs floating around various locations prohibiting the use of the jake brake.

Jake brakes or engine brakes do make an unbelievably loud noise which can be disturbing to those living near the highway or interstate. However, the general public needs to understand that truck drivers do not use the jake brake to upset those in the surrounding area it is merely a safety precaution.

The sound the engine brake makes is loud, and there is no point in trying to argue that point, but it is used to slow a 55,000 plus vehicle down.

To Jake Brake or Not to Jake Brake

It comes down to your preferences if you wish to use this stopping device. The advice listed above is merely to get you started and to educate you on the basics. You should always follow the advice of your training instructor or safety director.

Hey, wait! Before I let you go, just a quick reminder, your IFTA and HVUT taxes are coming up fast! Don’t get run over by the IRS and file now before it is too late. For more information on the upcoming Form 2290 filing deadline and IFTA fuel tax click here.

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