The Brake Check

Brake Check SignThe brake check sign says "Trucks, Stop Here, Check Brakes, Steep Hill Ahead." Ask almost anyone and they would likely tell you that this sign only applies to heavy commercial trucks equipped with air brakes.

This is not the case however, the sign applies to all trucks with a licensed Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of more than 5,500 kg. regardless of brake system type. It could include everything from a truck tractor to a pickup pulling an RV.

warning sign at brake check

Heavy Trucks

Checking brakes is part of the basic training for all commercial drivers. ICBC's Driving Commercial Vehicles manual has a section called Pre-Hill Inspections that beings on page 228.

Light Trucks

Basic training for light vehicle drivers does mention a pre-trip inspection in Chapter 2 of ICBC's Learn to Drive Smart manual beginning on page 24. It simply mentions checking brake fluid level and parking brake adjustment.

The Towing a Recreational Trailer manual goes into a bit more detail under the pre-trip inspection procedure starting on page 13.

Advice in the form of advisory signs posted at the brake check site tell drivers of vehicles equipped with hydraulic brake systems that they must check pedal pressure, brake assist, that there are no fluid leaks and that the brake drums are not overheated.

Pedal pressure is tested by applying the brakes and holding them applied. The pedal must not be spongy or slowly depress.

To check brake assist, turn the engine off, pump the brake pedal to deplete the assist, hold the pedal down and start the engine again. If assist is working properly you will feel the pedal rise slightly.

Trailer Brakes

Are you towing a trailer equipped with brakes? You will find a sign that tells you what to check at the pullout.

Disconnect the vacuum lines, pull the pin on the electric switch or the lever on the surge brake to activate the breakaway brake. Try to drive ahead and the trailer wheels should lock.

In addition to checking for hydraulic fluid leaks, it would be wise to check fluid levels in the master cylinder as well. The fluid should be a clear straw colour and at or above the minimum level mark. If there is no mark indicated, then no less than 13 mm from the top of the reservoir.

Failing to Stop for the Brake Check

Failing to stop and check brakes is a violation of Section 125 MVA - Disobey Traffic Control Device and could result in the driver being issued a traffic ticket with a fine of $121 and 2 penalty points.

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