General Diesel Repair
October 26, 2022

What is a Jake Brake? A How-To Guide For Truck Drivers

Have you ever heard a semi-truck slowing down or stopping and making a loud noise? If so, then you’ve probably heard a Jake Brake in action. You may be wondering what a truck's Jake Brake is and what it accomplishes. Large diesel engines include a Jake Brake braking system, sometimes a compression release engine brake. In essence, it's a method of reducing speed without using the truck’s service brakes. This may help preserve your service brakes, increase their lifespan, and save expenses since fewer maintenance tasks will be necessary for your brakes.

So how exactly does a Jake Brake operate? Please continue reading to discover more about Jake Brakes and advice on how to use them correctly.

What is Jake Brake? 

A Jacobs Engine Brake (also known as the Jake Brake) is an engine brake that, utilizes the engine to slow down a semi-truck rather than the conventional service brakes. Although there are other brake retarder systems than compression brakes, such as exhaust brakes and variable-geometry turbo brakes, the Jake Brake has come to be associated with engine brakes as a whole.

How do Jake Brakes operate?

The Jake Brake, also known as a "compression release engine brake," works by opening the engine's exhaust valves to release the compressed air that has been trapped in the cylinders. Instead of transferring this energy to the crankshaft, the compressed air is released, thereby slowing down the truck and giving the driver greater control.

Exhaust brake vs. Jake Brake

Although Jake Brakes and exhaust brakes are both brake retarder systems, their working principles are fundamentally different. The compressed air that accumulates in the cylinders is released by a Jake Brake, as you are now aware. On the other hand, exhaust brakes confine the air from the engine to the exhaust system. As a result, the engine is forced to spin more slowly due to back pressure.

Even though each kind of braking system has advantages and disadvantages, the Jake Brake system faces particular criticism because of its noise. People often compared it to the sound of a machine gun. The power and potential use of Jake Brakes outweigh their considerable loudness.

Tips for using Jake Brakes 

There are a few essential considerations when employing Jake Brakes. Be mindful of the weather before using your Jake Brake since they are not designed to be used on ice or slippery road surfaces. Pay attention to signage since there may be "No Jake Brake" signs posted in places where the use of Jake Brakes is forbidden, such as residential areas. This is due to their extreme loudness, which might disturb the neighborhood.

Other things to consider when using your heavy-duty truck’s Jake Brake

  • Use the Jake Brake between 1100 and 1400 RPMs to shift; doing so will help safeguard the motor
  • When utilized correctly, the Jake Brake could also prevent your service brakes from overheating and catching fire
  • When descending an incline, many drivers choose to utilize the Jake Brake exclusively, keeping their gear low enough to let the Jake handle all or most of the braking
  • It is possible to combine the Jake Brake with the foot brakes
  • The Jake Brake works best when cranked up in lower gear at high RPMs
  • Ask your company's technician what the safe or recommended operating ranges are for your vehicle since every Jake Brake and engine combination might differ
  • Since the ABS system does not impact the Jake Brake, avoid using it in slick or potentially slick conditions
  • Jake Brakes typically have 3 settings, each of which affects a different number of cylinders: position 1 affects 2 cylinders, position 2 affects 4 cylinders, and position 3 affects 6 cylinders.
  • Use lower settings when the driving conditions are less than ideal. The higher the brake setting, the stronger the braking power
  • When employing the Jake Brake, the engine's oil should not be low and at working temperature
  • Make that your Jake Brake is operational before beginning a lengthy, steep descent by momentarily removing your foot from the accelerator.

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