Flood Inspection and Reconditioning Guidance

Florida flood maintenance guidance

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Hurricane Ian’s deadly flooding in Florida will require enormous relief and reconstruction initiatives, many of which rely on the trucking industry and thousands of truck drivers. Bendix provides fleets and drivers with technical guidance on evaluating and perhaps reconditioning air brake, wheel-end, and other safety components that have been partially or entirely submerged for commercial vehicles exposed to these kinds of flooding conditions.

Fresh-Water Guidelines

Start by thoroughly power-washing the vehicle, making sure to include the undercarriage and wheel ends if you are confident the power unit or trailer was submerged in fresh water. When cleaning, exercise caution: The high-pressure jet shouldn’t be used to directly spray rubber components or sealing interfaces. Direct spraying of exhaust ports by a high-pressure sprayer may result in irreversible damage to valves and/or corrosion to internal parts. It is advised to wear the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) when washing or working on flooded vehicles, whether they were submerged in fresh or salt-water. Most valves leave the delivery open to the atmosphere at the exhaust port in their unapplied state, therefore if any exhaust port is inundated, water has entered the system and could cause future malfunction.

Valves and Internal Components

  • Examine each part of the auxiliary and pneumatic brake systems.
  • Release any residual pressure in the service reservoirs.
  • At each valve, label and unplug any electrical and pneumatic connectors for drying.
  • Inspect the air hoses, couplings, and components for signs of water or pollution.
  • Carefully blow air through the pneumatic tubes and hoses using dry compressed air pressure (from a stationary compressor or a similar source). Keep an eye out for signs of contamination or water.
  • Replace the components containing water or other contaminants.
  • Reassemble the components to the related lines and fittings if no signs of water or pollution are discovered within.

For more information on air braking systems, read our article “Air Brakes on CMVs – How they work & regulations you need to know”

Charging Systems

  • Check for indications of water or pollutant ingestion in the air intake, compressor, and air dryer.
  • Carefully blow air through the pneumatic tube using dry compressed air pressure (from a stationary compressor or a similar source), checking for signs of water or contamination.
  • To remove any remaining water from the service tanks, blow it out with dry compressed air using a stationary air compressor (or a suitable portable one).
  • Air dryers eliminate moisture from compressed air, but they are unable to eliminate moisture from the system outside of the service tanks.
  • Install a new or well maintained air dryer to help remove any lingering moisture from the air input after reconnecting pneumatic lines.

Wheel-Ends & Electronics

Check all wheel ends for water, which can pool in drums when left standing, increasing the risk of corrosion between the material of the drum lining and the shoe surface. The integrity of the friction pair between the shoe and the drum must also be examined. Although water-filled loading docks might not be thought of as “flood events,” they can still have a similar effect on various wheel-end parts, such slack adjusters.

To make sure that water hasn’t gotten into the brake chambers through the air lines, turn the ports downward. If water is found, the actuator should be changed. Re-greasing slack adjusters is part of the proper wheel-end relubrication procedures as well. 

Utilizing a program like Bendix ACom Pro software, do a diagnostic download on systems like ABS, ESC (electronic stability control), collision mitigation controllers, including any front or side radar units, to evaluate the braking/safety electronics components. In most circumstances, electronic devices will validate by self-check: The essential solenoids, sensors, harnesses, etc. will be checked if the electronic control unit (ECU) is functional. Make sure to examine the interface between the tractor and trailers seven-pin electrical connector too.

Two Bendix Technical Bulletins that are useful for putting tractors and trailers back into service after they have been submerged are available for additional extensive reference in the Bendix Document Library at bendix.com:

Flood Damage: Bendix Recommendations for Controlling Potentially Submerged Trailer and Dolly Systems (TCH-003-048).
Flood Damage: Bendix Recommended Procedure for Potentially Submerged Power Vehicles (TCH-003-049).

Getting back on the road

Return to the road and ongoing assistance
Before putting the car or trailer back into operation, thoroughly test the air brake system and ABS if your inspections reveal no signs of water or pollution. Be aware that the power washing and flooding may have caused the ABS wheel speed sensors to shift from their usual location. By manually bringing them back into contact with the exciter ring, you can force the sensor position adjustment while the wheel rotates.

Salvatora advised repeating the initial post-flood testing and diagnostic inspections of the electronic systems. “Also, make sure you adhere to the instructions provided by other system and vehicle manufacturers: You can never be too vigilant because flooding can cause bumper-to-bumper impacts.

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The FMCSA is the lead federal government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), to include more than 500,000 commercial