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Motorhome Brake System Maintenance

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Motorhomes are heavy vehicles that need adequate brake systems to keep you in control and avert disaster. Make sure you perform regular motorhome brake system maintenance on your own, or have your coach inspected at a service center.

To check how warm the brakes of your vehicle are, do a walk-around inspection immediately after driving. Hold your hand near the center of each wheel. (Warning: Do not touch the surface.) If one side is noticeably hotter or colder than the other, it should be checked by a brake technician.

Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere through the vent in the master cylinder cap. This lowers the boiling point of the fluid and can also result in damaging corrosion to crucial brake components, or even brake failure.

When the brakes are used hard, the contaminated fluid can boil, causing the pedal to go to the floor in extreme cases. Change brake fluid at least every other year. Springtime is the best time to flush brake fluid, before the coach is put into service after storage. Have the system flushed and properly bled of air. Install only fresh, premium, high-temperature fluid of a factory-approved grade.

Here are some tips on maintaining your coach’s air brakes. Read the owners manual, if you haven’t already done so. Some systems have automatic air tank drains, which get rid of water condensation. If your coach does not have them, manually drain the tanks at least once a month. Also, check the tension and condition of the compressor drivebelt (if equipped) and the air dryer.

Before operating a motorhome with air brakes in sub-freezing weather, be sure to review the operating manual for draining moisture from the air tanks.

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