Why Are Jake Brakes Illegal?

180 Automotive is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jake Brakes are illegal because of the loud noise it causes neighbourhood. In addition, Jake braking is responsible for some environmental pollution and hazards.

As a result, many communities make laws against their use. So, you’ve got to be extremely wary when you realize that the sound of the brakes of a passing truck is almost equal in intensity to that of a gunshot.

If you’re not familiar with this over-50-something-year-old invention, how it can potentially cause damage, and why it has become prohibited in many areas, this article is for you.

I’ve taken my time to explain a few things you need to learn about Jake braking, including the meaning of the Jake braking system and areas that restrict or ban their use.

You’ll also learn the Jake brake prohibition signs to look for and where these signs are posted for your attention.

What Are Jake Brakes And How It Works?

The term Jake brake comes from the late twentieth-century innovation invented by Jacobs Vehicle Systems. The idea behind the system is that commercial vehicles, particularly, trucks will use engine compression to slow down.

Rather than pressing the brake pedal as you find with regular driving, a vehicle owner, driver, or trucker will simply reverse the diesel engine compression power to slow down the vehicle.

The system is developed so that the truck engine’s intake and exhaust valves will handle the braking system’s needs. The Jake brakes widen the exhaust valves positioned at the top of the compression stroke. These compression release brakes are what is colloquially referred to as Jake brakes.

In small private cars, when you take your foot off the gas pedal, the gravity will help slow down the car or bring it to a stop. This is what you experience when a truck driver attempts to slow down his vehicle.

However, in commercial vehicles like trucks, the exhaust valves become wide open as a result of the trucker’s use of the compression release brake. The truck will make a loud mile-long rumble. The kind of noise produced is deeper and imposes itself on the neighbourhood and passers-by.

Where Are Jake Brakes Illegal?

Despite the apparent benefits of slowing down trucks, helping truck drivers to maintain absolute control over their trucks, and improving the lifespan of the friction brake, Jake brakes are unfortunately not allowed by some communities.

The places where Jake braking is prohibited are residential areas and neighbourhoods. In addition, drivers are not allowed to use their Jake brakes in places close to toll roads and the interstate.

The problem with Jake brakes is essentially both about the danger they portend and the loud and irritating noise that accompanies them. No neighbourhood is comfortable having a blasting sound all over the place.

Although some people may find the dangerous part of Jake braking not as threatening as their noisy part, people want to have their peace whether in the morning or at night.

In some areas, truckers are not even allowed to ply the neighbourhood roads. In other areas, truck drivers are made to pay heavy fines for violating the law against the use of Jake brakes. What’s more, it is important to understand your neighbourhood law relating to Jake braking.

Although truckers may argue that Jake brakes are not intended to cause noise, everyone needs to have an understanding of why and how compression release is a violation of community peace.

What Signs Should I Look For In Areas Where Jake Braking Is Prohibited?

While it’s easy to spot places and areas where Jake braking is illegal, each community has its own Jake brake prohibition signs.

Normally, some areas conspicuously display warning posts about the prohibition; while others don’t. The other thing is that certain communities only prohibit loud Jake brakes.

In any case, make sure you do a background check on the neighbourhood and be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Avoid using engine brakes
  • Unmuffled compression braking prohibited
  • No jake brakes
  • Limit compression braking
  • Engine braking restricted
  • Compression release braking not allowed
  • Brake retarders prohibited
  • Don’t use engine brake

Where Are ‘No Jake Brake’ Signs Posted?

Typically, ‘No Jake brake’ signs are hoisted pretty close to a stop sign, red light, or a hill. The reason is to quickly draw the attention of the truckers.

For instance, hills and steep roads are strategic areas where truck drivers may want to change the rig’s wheel brakes with the regular braking system.

What Are Advantages Of Using Jake Brakes?

Despite the incredible noise it produces, jail braking still has a lot to offer drivers and vehicle owners. But only truck drivers can gain the advantage of the myriads of benefits of using.

1. Saves Cost Of Vehicle Maintenance

Overall, spending money to fix, replace, or repair brake parts can be pretty costly. So, using the Jake brake will save you a lot of bucks that should have gone to the hands of your technician.

In fact, you’ll also realize that you won’t have to spend so much on fixing the brake components, including brake caliper, piston, brake pads, wheel brakes, and so on. Even if you have to spend on the brakes, the expenses will be quite affordable and come cheap.

2. Reduces Wear And Tear

Another benefit of using the Jake brake is that it reduces the pressure on the regular truck brakes. One thing is that consistent use of the regular vehicle brakes heaps a lot of pressure causing them to wear out within a short time.

Consequently, excess wear and tear on the brakes will drastically reduce the time the vehicle will take before it slows down. Additionally, excess pressure on the brakes, especially when you’re driving downhill, can also cause the brakes to overheat and this is a dangerous sign.

3. Safer To Control On Steep Road

Irregular slowing down is an issue no trucker would wish to experience while attempting to brake the vehicle, especially while going downhill. However, preventing this from occurring is almost practically impossible without Jake brakes.

So, truck drivers use the Jake brakes to make the truck speed down so that it can relieve the brakes of the constant pressure that mounts on them. This braking system makes it safer and easier for the driver to maintain a good and controllable speed than using the brake pedal.

4. Saves The Overall Life Of The Braking System

Using the Jake brakes also reduces the stress often put on the main and minor components of your vehicle’s braking system.

For instance, the brake pads, brake caliper, brake rotors, and others may have their lifespan extended by a couple of miles if you use the Jake brake in place of the brake pedal. Consequently, the amount of pressure that also falls on the wheel will also significantly reduce.

5. Reduces Vehicle Stopping Time

No doubt, Jake braking is illegal but then truckers use them to reduce the amount of time it takes the vehicle to slow down. When you’re driving downhill, for instance, you’ll need a lot of braking.

If your vehicle doesn’t stop or slow down when it should, you may see it collide with the vehicle in front of you, and you know the implication of this on your wallet. Rather than allowing the collision to happen, using a Jake braking system will help quicken the stopping time of your truck.

How Is A Regular Engine Braking System Different From Jake Brake?

Apart from the name, the Jake brake is different in some ways from the engine brake. Although both are designed to slow down or stop a moving vehicle, the mechanism of each braking system differs.

While the regular engine brakes are suitable for both private (cars) and commercial (trucks) vehicles, the Jake brakes are only designed for (diesel) trucks. The engine brake works on any terrain while the Jake brake is mostly used when a vehicle is moving downhill.

Another difference is that the engine brake starts to slow down the car once you lift your foot off the gas pedal. This creates a vacuum in the throttle, causing gravity to cause the engine to slow down or stop the car. Engine brakes also work with a downshifting mechanism to quicken the time your vehicle takes to slow down.

On the other hand, the Jake braking system works with the principle of compression release brake. This way, the trucker uses the compression release to allow the exhaust and intake valves to widen and release stifled gas. Ultimately, the engine will slow down the vehicle and possibly bring it to a halt.

Final Thoughts

You may have heard the common Latin phrase ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of law excuses no one). Did you know “I’m not Jake braking isn’t allowed here’ is not an alibi before any trial judge in the states where it is prohibited?

Apart from the environmental nuisance Jake brakes cause, not many people or kids can withstand the blasting and defeaning noise they produce.

Now you know why Jake brakes are illegal and how you should tread cautiously as you drive your diesel truck around the neighbourhood. You must find out local communities, residences, and neighbourhoods where Jake braking is restricted or prohibited.

Here’s my final warning: don’t touch the far button.