Kenworth T800 Brake System Maintenance

A Complete Guide to Brake System Maintenance for the Kenworth T800

Keep your Kenworth T800's brakes safe and durable. This guide offers essential care tips for heavy-duty vehicles, enhancing safety and saving on repairs and downtime.

Maintaining the brake system of your Kenworth T800 is essential to ensuring safety and the longevity of your heavy-duty truck. A well-maintained brake system not only enhances safety but also prevents costly repairs and downtime. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential aspects of brake system maintenance specifically tailored to heavy-duty vehicles like the Kenworth T800.

1. Understanding the Brake System

Before delving into maintenance, it's crucial to understand the various components that make up the brake system of your Kenworth T800. The primary brake system components for heavy-duty trucks include:

Brake Drum

The brake drum is a large, cylindrical component that is mounted to the wheel hub. It provides the friction surface against which the brake shoes press to slow down or stop the vehicle. When the brake shoes are forced against the inner surface of the drum, the resulting friction generates the necessary braking force to decelerate the vehicle.

Brake Shoes

Brake shoes are curved metal plates lined with friction material (usually brake lining or brake pad material). They are mounted within the brake drum and are connected to the anchor and cam systems. When hydraulic pressure or air pressure is applied, the brake shoes are forced outward against the inner surface of the brake drum, creating friction and, in turn, slowing down the vehicle.

Anchor and Cam Mechanism

The anchor and cam mechanism are responsible for transferring the force applied by the brake actuation system (hydraulic or air pressure) to the brake shoes. The camshaft pushes or rotates the cam, causing the brake shoes to move outward against the drum. 

The anchor serves as a pivot point for the brake shoes. The system ensures even and symmetrical application of the brake shoes against the drum for effective braking.

Return Springs

Return springs are used to retract the brake shoes when the braking force is released. They ensure that the brake shoes do not remain in contact with the drum when the brakes are not engaged. This allows the wheels to rotate freely when the brakes are not in use and prevents unnecessary friction and wear.

Dust Shields or Backing Plates

Dust shields, or backing plates, are mounted behind the brake drum and serve as protective covers for the entire brake assembly. They help prevent dust, water, and debris from entering the brake system, which can lead to contamination and reduced brake efficiency. These shields also provide structural support for the brake components.

These components all work together to bring safey breaking distances and power to your vehicle. If one fails, then you could find yourself in serious trouble on the road. In fact, brake issues are a contributing factor in 40,000 truck accidents each year. Don’t be one of them

2. Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are critical for catching potential brake system issues before they become significant problems. You should inspect the brake system of your Kenworth T800 according to the manufacturer's guidelines, which often include checking the following:

Brake Drum: Examine the brake drum for signs of scoring, pitting, or excessive wear on its inner surface. Ensure it is within the manufacturer's recommended tolerances for thickness and roundness.

Brake Shoes: Check the brake shoes for wear, glazing, or damage to the friction lining. Measure the shoe lining thickness and ensure it is above the minimum thickness specified by the manufacturer.

Anchor and Cam Mechanism: Inspect the anchor and cam mechanism for signs of wear, corrosion, or damage. Ensure the camshaft and cam are functioning correctly, allowing the brake shoes to move smoothly.

Return Springs: Examine the return springs for signs of damage, stretching, or weakening. Ensure the springs are securely attached and have the necessary tension to retract the brake shoes effectively.

Dust Shields or Backing Plates: Check the dust shields or backing plates for any damage or deformation that could compromise their protective function. Ensure they are securely in place and free from cracks or corrosion that may allow contaminants to enter the brake system.

3. Brake System Cleaning

Keeping your brake system clean is essential to its proper functioning. Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate on brake components, reducing their efficiency and potentially causing damage. Here's how to clean your brake system:

Brake Drum: Use a brake cleaner or an appropriate solvent to remove dirt, oil, and residue from the inner surface of the brake drum. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the type of cleaner to use.

Brake Shoes: Inspect the brake shoe linings for excessive brake dust and contamination. Use a suitable brake shoe cleaner or a soft brush to remove brake dust and debris. 

Anchor and Cam Mechanism: Check the anchor and cam mechanism for any accumulation of dirt, grime, or corrosion. Clean and lubricate these components using a suitable solvent and brake component lubricant. 

Return Springs: Examine the return springs for dirt, grime, or debris. Clean the springs using a brush or appropriate solvent. Ensure that the springs are clean and free from obstructions for effective retraction of the brake shoes.

Dust Shields or Backing Plates: Inspect the dust shields or backing plates for any dirt or contamination. Clean these components using a brush or a damp cloth.


Proper maintenance of your Kenworth T800's brake system is crucial for your safety and the safety of other road users. Regular inspections, thorough cleaning, and routine maintenance of brake components, including timely replacements when necessary, are the cornerstones of optimal brake system performance. 

By adhering to these guidelines or visiting professional brake mechanics, you can not only enhance safety on the road but also extend the lifespan of your brake components and reduce the risk of costly downtime for repairs.

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