| Read Time: 3 minutes | Truck Accidents
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.

Get in touch to uncover the impact our experienced legal team at Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C. can have on your case.

What Is a Jake Brake?

When a truck employs “jake braking,” it utilizes an engine brake for deceleration instead of relying on conventional braking mechanisms.

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.

Jake brakes produce loud noises due to the quick release of air from cylinders into the muffler, causing resonance and the characteristic loud ‘BRRRR’ when decelerating trucks.

History of the Jake Brake

The invention of the Jake Brake, an essential component for highway safety, is credited to Clessie Lyle Cummins. Cummins, who lived from 1886 to 1968, pioneered this device, which has been manufactured by the Jacobs manufacturing company since 1961.

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

Exhaust Brake vs. Jake Brake

When comparing exhaust brake vs. jake brake, they are both 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. 

Jake Brake vs. Engine Brake

A Jake brake, also known as an engine brake, uses the engine’s compression to slow a vehicle down. Specifically, it employs exhaust valves to reduce speed, making it especially effective for trucks. The term “Jake Brake” comes from the company that originally developed this braking system.

Engine Brake vs. exhaust brake

Engine brakes and exhaust brakes both help slow down a vehicle. Engine brakes are effective but noisy, whereas exhaust brakes are silent and more convenient for daily use.

Ban on Jake Brakes

If you’ve ever seen no-engine brake signs, that sign refers to no 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 Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro 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 Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro 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

Alejandro Acosta

Mr. Acosta is a lifelong resident of El Paso. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 2000 and graduated from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 2004. Mr. Acosta went on to attend Sandra Day O’ Connor College of Law (Arizona State Law School). He graduated in 2008, receiving his J.D. and his Indian Legal Certificate for his work in Indian Law and dealings with various tribal nations throughout Arizona. Alejandro has been licensed to practice law in Texas since 2008 and has been licensed in the State of New Mexico since 2011.

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