| Read Time: 2 minutes | Glossary
What Is a Jake Brake?

Have you heard a semi-truck make deafening noises when slowing down?

If so, that’s likely the Jake Brake, meaning the driver is using the truck’s engine to slow down.

The noise from a Jake Brake can be terrifying for anyone nearby.

Because they are so loud, some places have banned truck drivers from using Jake Brakes in certain areas.

What Is a Jake Brake?

When a truck is “jake braking,” it is using an engine brake to slow the truck down rather than using traditional brakes.

Using a Jake Brake opens the engine’s exhaust valves to release compressed air being held in the cylinders.

This allows the engine to work as a power-absorbing air compressor. The engine slows the truck down when it releases the compressed air instead of energy returning to the crankshaft.

That’s why you might also hear a Jake Brake called a compression-release engine brake.

History of the Jake Brake

Jacobs Vehicle Systems introduced the first engine brake for commercial vehicles in 1961. Clessie Cummins, who founded what is now Cummins Inc., invented the Jake Brake.

Fast forward to today, and Jacobs Vehicle Systems has produced more than nine million Jacobs Engine Brakes for commercial vehicles around the globe.  

Is a Jake Brake the Same as an Exhaust Brake?

Jake Brakes and exhaust brakes are similar but function differently.

The exhaust brake traps the engine’s air within the exhaust, whereas the Jake Brake releases compressed air in the cylinders.

Exhaust brakes force the motor to rotate slower and are much quieter than Jake Brakes. 

Ban on Jake Brakes

If you’ve ever seen a sign that says no engine braking, that sign refers to Jake Brakes.

You’ll likely find bans in residential neighborhoods, near toll roads, or on interstates.

Jake Brakes aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can be extremely loud. While the noise might not bother some, it can disturb residents, especially early in the morning or late at night.

Some towns and cities even fine truckers if they use a Jake Brake within a certain area. 

Can Jake Brakes Be Dangerous?

While Jake Brakes are designed to be safe, some situations can make them hazardous. Jake Brakes are great for trucks traveling through mountainous terrain.

However, if a driver doesn’t have experience using a Jake Brake or abuses the brake, the truck might not react as expected.

Trucks with Jake Brakes have warnings telling drivers not to use them in slippery conditions. Drivers in trucks with no trailers or very light loads should also avoid using a Jake Brake.

The lack of weight on the tires or a lack of proper traction could result in skidding or a jackknife accident.

Jake Brakes have tremendous stopping power, so drivers must know how to use them properly.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at Flores, Tawney, & Acosta P.C.

Were you involved in a large truck accident in Texas or New Mexico? You have legal rights if the other driver caused an accident that injured you.

At Flores, Tawney, & Acosta P.C, our attorneys have years of experience handling truck accident claims, including accidents resulting from the misuse of a Jake Brake.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

Author Photo

James Tawney

James Tawney is a native of the Southwest dedicated to serving his community. He was born and raised in Arizona where he attended Northern Arizona University where he received his undergraduate degree. James then went on to attend Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas. In 2016, he, along with fellow plaintiff’s attorneys Connie Flores and Alejandro Acosta, founded Flores, Tawney & Acosta, P.C. with offices located in Las Cruces and Carlsbad, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.

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