Semi Truck Air Brakes VS Conventional Braking Systems

Semi Truck Air Brakes VS Conventional Braking Systems

Semi trucks have air brakes due to their ability to produce compressed air continuously in the braking system and to push the brake shoe lining to the brake drum, so as to slow down the vehicle.

When you use conventional brakes for semi trucks, it may become a problem to slow down your vehicle if your brake fluid has no stock or leaks all of a sudden.

Either way replacement parts are readily available for both the braking systems at the best automotive part supplier companies.

In this blog, you will learn about the differences between semi-truck air brakes and conventional brakes through a concise competitive study. So, read this blog to learn more!

What are the differences between Semi truck air brakes and conventional braking systems?

Get the complete information about the differences between the braking systems in this blog. This is how both the systems differ:


Air brakes in semi trucks work by using compressed air. The air compressed in the braking system creates pressure, which allows them to create pressure on the brake drums through the brake pedals.

Since this braking system can handle very high volumes of air, the brake exerted by it is much more powerful compared to conventional brakes. So, semi trucks responsible for carrying heavy loads over long distances can get the best service from air brakes.

Conventional or Hydraulic brakes function differently. Instead of working on air pressure, this type of braking system uses hydraulic fluid. This fluid is used to exert pressure on the brake drum from the brake pedal.

This type of break is best designed for light vehicles. However, Various semi trucks use conventional braking systems over air brakes.

Since both braking systems come with a set of pros and cons, it is essential to curate a prominent competitive study of both to determine the one best for you.


Semi-truck air brakes can be maintained effortlessly. They require minimal maintenance to work efficiently. Since they do not require lubrication, you can work with them easily just with a monthly maintenance session.

Conventional braking systems on the other hand can get much more expensive to maintain. These braking systems require frequent lubrication.

If your hydraulic brakes are not lubricated properly, they might not function efficiently.

You might also require professional assistance for specialized cleaning of the conventional brakes. Therefore, maintaining these braking systems can get costly.

Speed and responsiveness

The mechanism of air brakes works by making the air pass through the brake lines before reaching the brake drums. So, this process of the air passing through makes it a slower procedure. In case of emergencies, the air brakes might not be very helpful.

If you want to use a fast and responsive braking system for your semi truck, conventional brakes can be the best option.

It comes with a swift and speedy breaking mechanism. Unlike air brakes, the hydraulic fluid does not take much time to travel to the braking drums. So, this break can work very well in emergencies.

Heating up

A very common problem of the braking systems in semi trucks is the heating issue. However, since air brakes comprise compressed air, there is no problem overheating associated with it.

Conventional brakes on the other hand are at a greater risk of overheating.

In this breaking mechanism, friction is created between the brake pad and the disc.

So, the kinetic energy is converted into heat energy to make your vehicle stop. Therefore, such braking systems can easily heat up more than air brakes.

With heavy loads over long distances using a compressed air braking system is much more convenient than conventional braking systems.

But, many semi trucks also choose conventional brakes for their increased speed. Now that you know the differences between both the braking systems, it will be easier for you to make your choice.

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