Comparing Hydraulic vs. AIR Brakes - What brakes do trucks use?

3 min read
Comparing Hydraulic vs. AIR Brakes - What brakes do trucks use?

Selecting the appropriate braking system for your truck is essential for both performance and safety. Here, we explore the differences between hydraulic and air brakes to assist you in selecting the right option for your vehicle.

What distinguishes air brakes from hydraulic brakes?

Brakes that operate hydraulically

Brakes that operate hydraulically
Brakes that operate hydraulically

Brake fluid is a liquid that these brakes use to move pressure from the brake pedal to the brake pads. The fluid in the system presses the brake pads against the wheels when you depress the pedal, slowing down the car. Because they are easy to use and efficient at smaller weights, hydraulic brakes are frequently seen in vehicles and light trucks.

Air Brakes

Air Brakes
Air Brakes

Compressed air is used with air brakes to initiate the braking mechanism, rather than a liquid. In heavy-duty vehicles, such as huge trucks and buses, air brakes are crucial since the weight of the vehicle would necessitate an excessive amount of brake fluid.

Hydraulic versus Air Brakes

Reaction Time

Hydraulic brakes react more quickly than air brakes, which can have a short delay as air passes through the system.


Although air brakes are more complicated and may need more upkeep, they are more durable for frequent usage. Although simpler, hydraulic systems may be more prone to leakage.


For bigger cars, air brakes work better because they can generate the force needed to safely stop massive quantities of traffic.

Best Truck Size for Air and Hydraulic Brakes

Brakes that operate hydraulically

Perfect for commercial cars and lighter trucks. They stop with enough force without requiring the intricate workings of an air brake system.

Air Brakes

vital for trucks classified as heavy-duty, usually weighing more than 26,000 pounds. They are appropriate for big trucks because of their strength and longevity.

Top Uses for Air Brakes and Hydraulic Brakes

Brakes that operate hydraulically

Ideal for smaller commercial vehicles used in urban or suburban environments, delivery vans, and light to medium trucks.

Air Brakes

Large commercial vehicles, semi-trailers, and buses are preferred, especially when they are moving quickly or carrying a lot of weight.

Additional Truck Brake-Related Pointers


In harsh environments or on steep inclines, air brakes may be more dependable.


The performance of hydraulic brakes can be more reliable in a variety of weather situations.


The initial outlay for air brake installation and upkeep is typically greater.

What Type of Braking System Is Best for Trucks?

The decision is based on the size, purpose, and operating circumstances of the truck. Heavy-duty vehicles need the powerful force of air brakes, whereas light- to medium-sized trucks prefer the ease of use and responsiveness of hydraulic brakes. Always take into account the unique requirements of your car, and when in doubt, seek professional advice.

To sum up, knowing the distinctions between hydraulic and air brakes is essential to guaranteeing your truck's effectiveness and safety. Every system has benefits specific to various car kinds and driving environments. You may choose the ideal braking system for your truck by taking into account its size, intended use, and operating conditions.