Don’t Overlook Engine Brake Maintenance

When you’re getting your engine overhauled, it’s easy to overlook the engine brake. In the July 2022 issue of “Heavy Duty Trucking,” Denise Rondini spoke to employees at Jacobs Vehicle Systems about proper engine brake maintenance.


According to business manager Kyle Lazzaro, the engine brake is packed with wear items that should be replaced during an overhaul. By fitting new springs and seals, the brake will perform like new. This both improves the drivability of the truck, and reduces wear on the service brakes. Rebuilding the brake also reduces its activation time. This shortens braking distances and helps the engine brake slow the vehicle before the service brakes need to be used.


A rebuild of the engine brake typically takes about two hours. For optimum performance, Jacobs recommends rebuilding the brake every 300,000 to 500,000 miles, or during every engine rebuild. The engine brake also needs periodic inspection. For most duty cycles, the brake should be checked whenever the engine valves are adjusted. Of course, duty cycles vary. Trucks used in severe applications and operating environments require more frequent maintenance.


An engine brake rebuild includes removing the housing from the engine, disassembling the pistons, and inserting new springs and control valves. The brake solenoid also needs to be removed and inspected. Even if this part is in good working order, the seals on this part should be replaced. Depending on the brake model, as many as 20 parts may need to be inspected and adjusted or replaced during an inspection. Most manufacturers offer tune-up kits, which include all the seals needed. These kits may also include replacement springs. The parts chosen for these kits are based on manufacturer and owner experience with parts wear, so they usually cover everything needed for the rebuild.


Additional Credit: Don’t Overlook Engine Brake Maintenance – Maintenance – Trucking Info