Recognizing 3 Potential Air Brake Compressor Issues

A failing compressor won't keep you from getting your truck safely off the road, but it does require attention and repair. Whether you have an upcoming trip or regular commutes, it's wise to address these repair issues before they worsen. Keep an eye out for these three symptoms that may indicate a problem with your air brake compressor or associated components.

1. Oil Leaks

Your compressor is a mechanical pump that requires lubrication and cooling. Its internal oil supply helps to keep it functioning correctly, so any oil leakage should be a cause for concern. If you notice oil on or near your compressor, start by looking for any apparent leak sources, and try to confirm that oil isn't reaching the compressor from another component.

If you've confirmed that the compressor is the source of the leak, there may be numerous possible causes. Check the fittings and gaskets near the air hoses and the oil lines, replacing them as necessary. If these seals don't seem to be the source of the leak, the compressor may have an internal issue that requires evaluation by a professional repair shop.

2. Slow Charge

Checking the charge rate for your air brakes should be part of your routine pre-trip checklist. If your air brake charge rate doesn't fall within specifications, you'll need to locate and address the issue before driving. Slow charge rates can sometimes result from damaged or kinked air hoses, so start by checking the condition of the lines from your compressor.

Note that slow charge rates can have numerous causes, so it's a good idea to rely on an experienced shop to help you diagnose this problem if you can't find any apparent issues.

3. Compressor Short Cycling

Your truck's air brake compressor should only operate when it needs to charge the air tanks. If your compressor runs too often, it can indicate a leak in the system, a problem with the compressor, or an issue with one or more air valves. Compressor short cycling isn't a critical issue, but it can cause unnecessary wear and indicate a more severe problem with your air brakes.

If possible, contact truck repair technicians as soon as you notice short cycling, and don't continue driving if other problems with your air braking system develop. While your air brakes are unlikely to fail catastrophically, waiting for them to stop functioning can potentially leave you stranded on the side of the road.