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What is the advantage of using air brakes? DBB 11-9-03  
I was wondering if someone could tell me why larger diesel motorhomes use air brakes rather than a hydraulic systems like the ones used on gas motorhomes and passenger cars ect...

I can understand that air systems are used on semi's to allow for easy connecting/disconnecting from trailers, but what is the advantage of an air brake system on large motorhomes, buses ect..

This question came up in a discussion I had with a friend the other day,when he told me that a guy he works with bought a bus with air brakes and did not need a CDL to drive it provided it was registered as an RV.

Does anyone know of a web site that gives a good explaination of air brake systems? Thanks
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? Ron 12-1-03  
I drove a bus(1946 vintage) for several years before it was mandatory to have an air brake endorsement.
After taking the two day course, I felt it was pretty dumb on my part to run a vehicle that had air brakes without some knowledge. You can have some leakage on air and usually get the sucker stopped, but drop hydraulic fluid and your toast!
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? DBB 11-15-03  
Thanks for the info Phil. It was very helpful.
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? Phil Feinstein 11-10-03  
Everything is a trade off. For each advantage you get a disadvantage.

The size of an RV is huge when compared to a car. Usually a class "A" weighs in at about 8 to 10 times a standard car. Here's your main advantages: No fluid to house or cool, simplified brake maintenance, more power to stop with. Air brakes also run what's called a "Dead man", so if you lose your air pressure the parking brake engages automatically. With a hydraulic system, you lose fluid you've lost your brakes. Air brakes must have a safe level of pressure to disengage the parking brake, so if your brake system is faulty you can't move the vehicle. An air brake system is a little less complex than a typical ABS setup. An airbrake system *WITH* ABS is a bit more complex.

The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. To make the vehicle move, you take heat and turn it into mechanical force. To stop, you turn the force back into heat for the brakes to dissipate. If you get air brakes too hot (or any brakes for that matter) they will "fade" and your vehicle will no longer stop. Air brakes are not fade proof, but can dissipate heat a lot better than hydraulic brakes. When racing "Super trucks", the brakes are actually sprayed with water to cool them.

If you'd like to get an idea of the technology available for HD brakes, take a look at the site: It's a little clunky, but there's some neat stuff.

BTW; The law is that you need a CDL for anything over 26,001 pounds GVW or anything that will carry more than 15 passengers *UNLESS* you are using the vehicle for private, non-commercial use (like an RV). There are a few states that have Driver's licensing requirements/endorsements for RVs, but this is the general situation.

Hope that helps!
Re: What is the disadvantage of using air brakes? jake broadway 12-18-13  
I don't know what they are.
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? ANNETTE 9-2-09  
Thanks Phil, I just called DPS in Austin, Texas to find out what I needed as a female to drive an RV, you are correct. The law is 26,001 pounds, if you go over that you need a different license than the one to drive your car. Also if you have Air Brakes, you need to go for a commercial license to drive the MotorHome as well. The difference is you mainly need to know how to use the air brakes and know about air brakes in general. They realize you are in a Motor Home not a 18 wheeler. I was really concerned since I couldn't figure out what we where getting from the DPS office here in our town how to bring the motor home and how to know how to already drive it when we didn't have license yet to do so in taking the driving test. I asked but they said it wasn't there concern that we had to take a driving test and a written no matter what size the motor home...duh. Thanks for all the info, it backs up what Austin DPS said to me this morning regarding the license and the air brakes....glad someone knows something about it.
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? deva 4-18-13  
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? Phil Nelson 8-18-10  
The advantage of air brakes is quite simple. Air brakes are a proven technology that will apply more pressure that hydraulic brakes and will stop a heavy vehicle far quicker with a foolproof system. One leak in hydraulics and it's game over. Air brakes are almost foolproof. The parking brakes are kept off by air pressure. Lose air and the brakes slam on. Apply the foot valve (pedal_ and air will apply the wheel brakes like nothing hydraulic can do. Love 'em. Millions of semi's can't be wrong
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? fatai wasiu 2-28-13  
What is the advantage of using air brake
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? Reynald 3-6-12  
Air brake advantage:
Simpler for components replacement, no bleeding involve when replacing components, if you have a leak the maxis(spring pressure)will apply and stop the vehicle.

Disavantage: Air compressor (bigger load on engine) bigger possibility to frezze up on you (winter time + humidity), more components involve($$$)must/should empty the air reservoir after each day/trip, regular adjustment/lub of the S cam required(do not trust the self adj system if equip) if ABS, more $$$ and touchy, lesser feel of the pedal. If you loose the air you are going no-where, if you have a leak there is no visible sign only audible.

Hydraulic brake: Advantage; better brake pedal feels, can be pump on slippery condition(winter), as good/effective per pressure as air brake, quiet operation, cheaper/fewer components, dual hydraulic system, reliable self-adjusting brake in most case, reliable ABS, if you have a leak you will have a wet spot easy to see,

Note: there might be millions of truck with air brake but you can multiply that number by millions more for hydraulic brake equipt's car

Deavantage: Bleeding/flushing req on reg basic (4yr) or when opening the circuit etc, do not mix different brake fluids, corrosive fluid.
Re: What are the advantages of using air brakes? akshay sirohi 10-26-12  
I want to know the major advantages of using air brakes over other braking system like hydraulik brakes, vacuum brakes.
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? kamala 4-17-10  
I want advantage & dis advantage of air brakes.
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? akash 9-2-08  
I want more information about air brakes with DIAGRAM.
Re: What is the advantage of using air brakes? josiah tavagwisa 7-13-14  
What is the advantage of air brakes
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