Disc brakes or drum brakes?

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by Bkturk77, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. Bkturk77

    Bkturk77 Bobtail Member

    Jan 19, 2014
    So i was put in charge of ordering two new tractors for pulling gasoline, the tractor is going to be pulling 12000 gallons fuel..
    the tractors are going to be kenworth T880
    so my question is do I go drum brakes or disc brakes?
    i all ready have 12 units that have drum brakes on tractor and trailers
    what guys think about disc brakes
    I need the negatives and deposits
    thank you very much
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  3. Y2K

    Y2K Road Train Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    I drive a 2013 Mack Pinnacle with discs and I see no down side at all, they simply work better IMO.
    Our trailers all have drums but all our newer tractors have discs and they stop better/smoother than the drum brake trucks hands down.
    We're pretty heavy too,105,500 GVW and there's plenty of hills out here in the PAC NW.
  4. Dale thompson

    Dale thompson Road Train Member

    Nov 20, 2013
    commerce twp,mi
    without ? disc over drum on a new order- would you even consider a new car with drum brakes?
  5. Happily Retired

    Happily Retired Road Train Member

    Apr 16, 2014
    high plains colorado
    I agree, disc all the way. Disc are far superior in every way, and changing pads is a snap, compared to drums. Like Dale^ sez, would you buy a car with drum brakes? Remember, drum brake technology goes back to the teens of the last century.
    dofjr1 Thanks this.
  6. Pedigreed Bulldog

    Pedigreed Bulldog Road Train Member

    May 7, 2011
    Drum brakes are pretty easy to change on a big truck. I can usually swap out the shoes & drums in less time than it takes a pair of shop guys to mount up new tires on the rims. Saves me having to pull the rims back off when I get home from the tire shop. Drums on a big truck are SOOOOO much easier than drums on a car. Never dealt with discs on a big truck, but on a car they aren't too bad...usually. Seems there is a trick to 'em. Might take 3 hours to do the first one, and 10 minutes to do the second. I'd imagine discs on a big truck would be similar, that once you figure out the trick to 'em, they swap out pretty easy.

    I've read a little about them, and it is 6 of one, half dozen of the other. Discs won't have brake fade on long grades and have a more car-like feel. Drums can be spec'd with the same stopping power, and might last a little longer. Weight difference negligible. Like I said...I have no experience with discs, just going by what I've read.

    The one thing I'd look at more than anything is parts availability. If you spec something that ain't widely used, it might take a day or two to get the part in since it may not be a stocked item. As discs become more widely used, parts will be on shelves at parts stores...but until then, you won't find 'em on MY truck. Drum brakes are commonly available, and stocked pretty much everywhere. Need 'em? Walk into any dealer or parts store and put your money on the counter, walk out with what you need. That's what I'm looking for when I need parts. I don't want to order them and get 'em in 2 or 3 days. I need them now, I want them now...because the truck is down & not making any money 'til I get what I need to fix it.
  7. haulhand

    haulhand Road Train Member

    If your application requires any off highway work I would stay away from discs. Dirt, dust, and mud all wreak havoc on the discs even causing them to fail. I've got a neighbor that ordered 100 new 579's last year all equipped with disc brakes, he put the first five in his field fleet and wrecked two in the first month when their brakes failed coming off a fairly steep mountain after traversing 29 miles of dry, dusty dirt road. The cause was determined to be dust buildup on the pads. He promptly put the rest of the new trucks in his OTR fleet and changed the ones not built back to drums. Just something to think about, if you're never going to leave the pavement then I'd definitely go with discs but not for my application.
  8. chalupa

    chalupa Road Train Member

    Jul 22, 2010
    No question on disc for on highway applications. A bit more costly overall but better resale and safer trucks. Also difficult for deputy dawg to inspect.....and as you know fleet mgr........brakes are one of his favorites.

  9. jdchet

    jdchet Light Load Member

    Sep 3, 2012
    NE Ohio
    Although I have no experience with truck discs, I imagine they would work better than drum brakes. I would probably, as mentioned above, base your decision on parts availability in the area where your trucks will be running. Every parts house has drum brake parts!

  10. Studebaker Hawk

    Studebaker Hawk Road Train Member

    Oct 18, 2010
    NW Indiana
    All of the high level new tanks we pick up at various manufacturers have discs now. Gasoline tankers from Heil is one of the best examples. Companies like Air Products and Praxair won't spec anything else.
    chalupa Thanks this.
  11. John Miles

    John Miles Medium Load Member

    Nov 14, 2009
    Monroe, NC
    I pretty much stay on the pavement all the time .... tons of inter-city traffic in Charlotte ... all our newer trucks ( Freightliners and KWs ) all have been coming with Disc brakes as well as all the newer tanks ( Heil ). We still have a few older tanks that still have drums on them but very few. In my experience the discs win hands down ... slowing down and stopping is so much more positive ... I honestly can't remember a time when I felt like the brakes were fading since going with discs. The one thing we have to be careful on are hard breaking events because the breaking IS that much more positive but it does make you feel a lot safer knowing that the unit will get stopped as long as you are not riding someone's rear end.
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