Brake & Tyre Watch exposes unroadworthy trucks

Private company fills law enforcement void

Hino South Africa recently sponsored the 34th Brake & Tyre Watch event, attended by truck operators and Hino dealers and staff, at the Donkerhoek traffic control centre, east of Pretoria.

Representatives from several brands delivered presentations on tractor trailers, truck braking systems, truck tyres and axles, as well as the role played by the SA Road Federation (SARF) and Road Transport Management System (RTMS).

Also read: RTMS the 101 of transport

Over the last decade, the Brake & Tyre Watch examinations have found 485 trucks to be unroadworthy out of the 679 trucks it has tested – a failure rate of 68%.

During the event, Wolfgang Lehmann spoke about the dangers of using cheap, non-genuine brake and suspension replacement parts on trailers, as well as the danger of worn and/or cracked fifth wheels and their kingpins.

Lehman said that some non-genuine trailer brake drums on sale in South Africa were made with inadequate amounts of materials and incorrect metals. He further stressed the importance of using the correct number and type of lashing straps when securing loads (see hereunder).

Funny truck load
We’re blown away by this effort!

Wabco’s Johan van der Merwe explained the intricacies of the latest braking systems on trailers, highlighting the importance of proper checks and maintenance procedures.

He cautioned against the use of non-genuine replacement parts, particularly brake boosters, saying cheaper versions often had shorter push rods, which can affect brake balance.

Also read: Why non-compliance doesn’t pay

Dr Paul Nordengen of the CSIR and SA Road Federation said that a recent survey in Mozambique had shown that 80-90% of the trucks there were operating in an overload condition, with the worst offender overloaded by a massive 53 tonnes!

Nordengen added that operating a truck on bad roads could more than double maintenance and repair costs. Nordengen is a strong protagonist for the use RTMS to self-govern transport operations, adding he was pleased that 200 fleets and over 10 000 vehicles have been accredited.

He said case studies of RTMS fleets showed running and maintenance cost savings, as well as far lower accident rates.

Also read: Public sector benefits from RTMS

Nordengen bemoaned low levels of law enforcement in South Africa, which meant that only 5% of the trucks on the roads were involved in interactions with law enforcers during a year. He estimated that as many as 40% of the trucks on South Africa’s roads were non-compliant.

George Hartman of BPW Axles said the high cost of road accidents in South Africa, estimated at R400-billion annually, was due to two major factors: drivers and poor vehicle maintenance. He laid part of the blame at the door of ineffective law enforcement.

He said that a new law coming into force next year requires that the identical tyre make and size be fitted to each side of an axle. Hartman added that he had already seen as many as five different tyres fitted to a single truck.

Steve Norris, a field engineer with Bridgestone, gave an interesting talk on the importance of fitting the correct tyres to transport rigs and ensuring that the correct tyre pressures were maintained.

Also read: SATMC gets into tyre safety groove

Kathy Bell of the Vehicle and Asset Finance Division of Standard Bank, and a person who is vastly experienced and passionate about all aspects of the road transport industry, said her company was particularly supportive of companies that were RTMS compliant, as it meant their vehicles were a lower risk and would be in better condition when they were resold or traded in.

Arrie Meyer, a man with 25 years of experience in law enforcement and currently the man responsible for operating the brake roller tester at the Donkerhoek test centre, said it was time to relook all aspects of South Africa’s Road Traffic Regulations, as some dated back to 1957.

Mayer said the prescribed test procedures and equipment used were not up to testing the latest technological advances in automotive engineering.

Also read: Alta Swanepoel on road traffic regulations

Meyer said the Inter-Cape Bus company had doubled its testing procedures, with Certificate of Fitness tests now carried out every three months, instead of the prescribed six months.

The information session was followed by practical inspections of trucks travelling the N4 towards Pretoria. Two of the four checked were found to be unroadworthy.

One had lost all the tread from a re-treaded tyre, while two others had problems with their braking systems. Another had a worn main steering link.

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  1. It’s a sad reality when the focus is on profitability at the expense of people’s lives.

    Legislation should be the driver to curb this bad behaviour. Unfortunately “the wheels come off” when it comes to the enforcement of the rules on our South African roads

  2. Unfortunately there seems to be a poor maintenance culture and a general lack of concern for the safety of the drivers of these vehicles and the other vehicle users travelling on the same roads with them. Safety critical items, like their windshields, also go without the required repairs or replacements needed to maintain the road worthiness of these vehicles

  3. The tread rubber too thin or they mixed compound rubber in tyre tread, this will cause poor heat dissipation even tyres blow up. Please select the top brand tyres!!!
    Roadway truck tyres only use the best natural rubber to avoid this situation

  4. Although the tyre condition of our trucks in SA is a major concern, so is the exhaust brake. Approx 7 out of 10 heavy duty trucks has the exhaust brake disconnected due to miss informed mechanics and drivers. When asked some drivers does not even know what the exhaust brake is…this is a very BIG concern!

  5. As seen here it is very easy to inspect and see tyre damage. however fifth wheel and skid plate damage is not so easy to see. Unless you separate the truck and trailer. To complicate things further it is not recommended to off hook loaded trailers. Fifth wheel and skid plate maintenance as a result is therefore always neglected. to a large degree as a result of maintenance plans. what most people don’t realise is that the fifth wheel is an add on and therefore is not covered by the trucks maintenance plan. This is easy to verify with the truck OEM. Just check their workshop and you will see they do not have the tools reared to inspect and adjust the fifth wheel.

  6. Certainly Junaid. It appears to be a retread separation, usually as a result of a missed or poorly repaired nail-hole.

  7. Christoff de Clerk and Gert Smith, I’m sure you guys can comment on the dangers of these facts.


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