Trailers daily checks: how to accurately check your brakes

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Updated 06/03/2023

Brakes are one of the most important components of any vehicle and must be routinely checked. Faulty brakes can be incredibly dangerous and must be checked as soon as a fault is detected. HGVs with trailers attached are heavy, large vehicles that can cause serious damage and risk to life if their brakes fail. HGV drivers should test their brakes every day before setting off on their journey; if they have a trailer attached to their cab, they should also ensure that everything is connected to allow the brakes to work effectively.

In this guide, we will explain how to test HGV trailer brakes, and what can cause them to become defective. We will also discuss whether it is a legal requirement to check your brakes, and how often trailer brake testing should be carried out.

How do I check my brakes during my daily trailer checks?

HGV cab brakes should be checked every day before the driver sets off on their journey during their daily vehicle checks. Drivers should check for air build-up and leaks, and should also make sure that the footwell is clear for easy access to the brake pedal. The service brake should be checked to see if it operates both the tractor and the trailer brakes. When checking the service brake, the driver must ensure that it does not have excessive side play or missing or loose anti-slip tread. The tractor parking brake should also be inspected.

It is also important to check that your cab and trailer are properly coupled up and all wiring is safely plugged in. The brake lines that run between the cab and the trailer should be correctly coupled and have sustained no excessive damage. It is here where you can also check the trailer parking brake, coupling security and electrical connections.

Any defects should be reported to the maintenance team within your company or your transport manager, and you should not drive the HGV until the defect is fixed. If you notice the fault whilst driving that you didn’t notice during your daily vehicle checks, you must pull over when it is safe to do so and report the defect straight away.

Truck driver checking the breaks

Is it a legal requirement to check my trailer brakes?

It is legally required by the DVSA that HGV drivers check their brakes as part of their daily vehicle checks. Failure to do so can lead to a fine or penalty points if you are pulled over by a DVSA officer. You must follow the requirements mentioned previously when checking your brakes, and ensure that your HGV is safe to drive with the trailer attached. Checking the brake lines and coupling is incredibly important in ensuring that nothing comes loose on the road.

As well as carrying out these essential checks, it is recommended that you have your HGV or trailer brakes tested by a roller brake tester at least four times a year. This includes your MOT, and the trailer will be loaded to at least 65% of its maximum weight during the test. Once tested, the report will inform you of your brake performance and will identify any major problems.

With the AssetGo app, drivers can report any brake defects in real time, allowing them to prevent accidents before they occur. This can also lead to vital repairs which can help the HGV trailer pass its roller brake test. To find out more, you can request a demo of our system here.

What can cause trailer brakes to become defective?

Over time, brake pads and other elements can become worn, leading to a need for repairs and replacements. The most common reasons for defective trailer brakes include:

  • Damaged or worn wiring: HGV cabs and trailers are attached by various connectors that are exposed to the open air, including the brake lines. They can often become damaged over time, and are susceptible to picking up dirt and debris. You should ensure that your brake lines are not hanging low, and that there are no exposed wires.

  • Poor connections: drivers should ensure that each connector, including the air brake system, is plugged into the right location on their trailer, and that nothing is loosely attached. If you notice a wiring issue, you should inform a specialist as soon as possible

  • Oil, grease and debris in the braking system: in general, all braking systems within motor vehicles can fail when dirt, grease or other debris gets into them. Brake discs should be regularly cleaned to keep them working optimally.

  • Corrosion: over time, dirt and debris can also get into the plug itself, which can damage the trailer brake’s integrity. Cleaning the socket and plug can help get rid of this debris.

You can find out more about HGV brake testing and fault reporting in our previous guide here.

Semi-trailer air supply break system

How often should trailer brake tests be carried out?

Brakes should be checked every day before the driver sets off on their journey. If a different driver operates the vehicle on the same day, they should carry out their own checks. Roller brake testing, as previously mentioned, should be carried out at least four times a year. This test occurs at the vehicle’s MOT too. These tests are essential for improving braking efficiency and maintaining roadworthiness.

How AssetGo can help

Our safe and secure app and CMS system here at AssetGo not only allows drivers to carry out their daily vehicle checks digitally, but they also have the option to carry out mandatory annotations to ensure they are being fully compliant with DVSA regulations. Brake defects can be reported efficiently, and drivers can even report any accidents, incidents or in-service defects during their journey.

If you would like to try our practical, easy-to-use system, please get in touch with a member of our team today.

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