A Semi-Truck Driving on the Highway.

Diesel Exhaust Brake Systems Explained

Many large, diesel-powered vehicles such as tractor trailers, heavy equipment, buses, RVs, and tow trucks use supplemental braking systems (such as diesel exhaust brakes or compression “jake” brakes) in addition to traditional wheel brakes. This is because large, heavy vehicles are much more difficult to slow down and stop once they pick up momentum, and an extra braking system can reduce stopping distance and prevent accidents. Diesel exhaust brakes are often preferred over compression brakes because they provide increased stopping power without the loud noise compression brakes are known for.

How Does a Diesel Exhaust Brake System Work?

Basically, a diesel exhaust brake system helps to slow the engine, so the vehicle quickly decelerates – that, in addition to the wheel brakes, can reduce the distance covered before the vehicle comes to a stop.

Normally, when an engine is running, pistons travel upward in their cylinders to push exhaust gases out of the engine through the exhaust valve. When an exhaust brake is applied (either manually or via the vehicle’s computer), that valve is partially closed, which means that the exhaust pressure inside the engine builds up. This back pressure makes it more difficult for the engine to rotate, slowing it down.

Why are Diesel Exhaust Brakes Efficient?

Exhaust brakes are efficient because they make use of existing systems within the vehicle – you already have an exhaust system – and they don’t need to be factory installed. They are also simple and don’t require things like a hydraulic line or pneumatic air pressure.

What are the Benefits of Diesel Exhaust Brakes?

The number one benefit of a diesel exhaust brake is that it increases your stopping power and can help improve safety on the road. They can prevent the wheel brakes from becoming overheated or overwhelmed, are quiet, and require minimal maintenance.

Check out J-Tech!

Many diesel-powered vehicles utilize exhaust brakes, so if you are interested in a career as a Diesel Technician, you’ll need to understand how they work. At J-Tech Institute, our Diesel Technician program  can teach you to properly inspect, diagnose, repair, and maintain exhaust brake systems – as well as many other valuable skills. 

Whether you are interested in becoming a  Diesel Technician, a Commercial Truck Driver, or an Automotive Technician,  J-Tech Institute can provide you with the training you need to jumpstart your career. Contact us today to learn more, or to schedule your visit to our 168,000 square foot facility in Jacksonville, FL.

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