Using the Jake Brake – Dos and Don’ts

Using the Jake Brake – Dos and Don’ts
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When do you use the Jake Brake? When should you use the Jake Brake? This topic is heavily debated among truckers.

The Jake Brake is a great tool, of course. It allows truckers to slow down a big rig in necessary situations. But, it is not intended to be used instead of the service breaks. The Jake Brake uses the diesel engine’s power to work. Essentially, the same force giving the truck power is also used to slow it down.

But, there are times when you should use the Jake Brake and times when you shouldn’t. So, let’s talk about some of the Dos and Don’ts for Jake Brakes in the trucking world.


First and foremost – make sure your brakes are working! Test the Jake Brake at the beginning of each trip.

Also, the Jake Brake works best on dry roads, in normal weather conditions. It can be used in combination with the foot brake. However, make sure that when you use the Jake Brake, the engine is not cold. It should be operating at normal temperature.

On mountains, it is important to use caution. If you use the Jake Brake properly here, it can save wear and tear on tires. Additionally it can add years to the life of the truck’s brake shoes.


Most importantly – don’t overuse or abuse the Jake Brake! It should only be used in necessary situations.

Some drivers like to use the Jake Brake to slow down on icy or snowy roads. However, it is not designed for this. They are actually better used in normal conditions. But, if you end up using it in winter conditions, make sure the tractor unit is lined up straight first. This helps to avoid jack-knifing.

Another don’t – you shouldn’t use the Jake Brake when shifting gears. This can stall out the engine. You also shouldn’t use the Jake Brake if the engine is low on oil.

Most truckers agree that the Jake Brake shouldn’t be used in a truck stop parking lot. It simply is not necessary.

Additionally, be conscious of city rules and road signs. There are many communities that have laws against the use of Jake Brakes, due to the noise.

So, keep these Dos and Don’ts in mind next time you’re on the road. Use caution with your Jake Brakes, and be safe out there!

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