Treating Trucking Supplies as Capital Investments

Owner-operators and independent contractors driving leased equipment are considered under federal law to be self-employed business owners. As such, they are required to keep track of all of their business-related expenses for the purposes of filing accurate reports and tax filings according to federal and state schedules. Unfortunately, some independent truck drivers do not treat what they do as a business. This is a mistake. We can illustrate just why this is by talking about the supplies needed to be a trucker. Those supplies should be treated as capital investments.



Capital investments, sometimes known as capital expenditures, are defined in the business world as investments in equipment or supplies critical to maintaining or improving the useful life of existing assets. In terms of a flatbed trucker who owns his/her own trailer, the trailer itself would be an existing asset. Installing new tires on that trailer in order to improve its performance and comply with the law would be considered a capital investment.

As our illustration demonstrates, capital investments are almost always made in relation to equipment or supplies. The trucker’s tarps, straps, winches, ratchets, cargo control and so on are all supplies necessary to improve the performance of the flatbed trailer. They are also supplies that are required to do the job of a flatbed trucker. Therefore, they are assets that are obtained through the process of capital investment.

Why Make the Distinction?

Making money in any business requires some degree of discipline to control both income and expenditures. This is why successful companies work with annual budgets prepared by looking at history and future expectations. The company without a budget, regardless of its size and scope, is one at a high risk of failure. This is the whole point of treating your purchase of trucking supplies as capital investments.

When you think of buying supplies as a capital investment, you can start looking at future expenditures in relation to your overall budget. Let’s say your gross income – before taxes and business expenses – is $120,000 annually. Some of that will eventually become the net income you put in your bank account as an ’employee’ of your company. The rest of it will be spent on things such as fuel, truck maintenance, and trucking supplies.

The idea is to work with a budget that projects how much you will spend in the coming year based on historical performance and your expectations of the kind of work you will be taking in the next 12 months. Treating your purchase of trucking supplies as capital investments allows you to plug a number into that budget. Let us use truck tarps as an example.

Let’s assume you replace your flatbed truck tarps every 18 months on average. Most of your tarps are already a year old, so you know they will be replaced sometime during the current budget year. Take the average price you pay for each tarp, multiply it by the number of tarps to be replaced, and enter that number into your budget. That number becomes a capital investment that is essential to keeping your business going.

You might be wondering how all of this helps with the business of running a truck as an owner-operator. Simply put, it forces you to acknowledge at least an estimate of how much will be spent on trucking supplies. This is motivation to set that money aside so that you have it when the time comes. Also it keeps you on the path of owning and operating a successful business that wouldn’t get into cash flow problems. As you estimate your income versus your expenses, it gives you a realistic picture of your business’ short and long term requirements.

Understanding Truck Air Brake Hose Coils

Every seasoned truck driver is experienced enough to readily identify the truck air brake hose coils that run between tractor and trailer. However, for an inexperienced driver, the hose coils might be a mystery. We want to shed light on that mystery by explaining how they work and what their purpose is. To that end, in this post, we will be providing you with a holistic picture on the functionality of hose coils.

First and foremost, the average set up involves two hoses and one electrical cable. The blue and the red hoses are used to operate the air brakes on the trailer while the green cable provides electrical service. Most of the time the three can be seen dangling independently.


The Benefits

Trailers obviously need their own brakes and lights in order to be road legal. But it would be nearly impossible to create independent systems to make them function. Therefore, the trailer’s brakes and lights are connected to the systems on the tractor by way of electric and hose coils.

Using straight hoses is entirely possible, and some drivers prefer that set-up. But straight hoses have an inherent flaw. In order to compensate for the wide turns that 18-wheelers have to make, hoses have to be sufficiently long enough to carry the distance as tractor and trailer separate on a turn. All of that excess hose is then left to hang freely once the rig straightens out again.

This presents a problem in as much as hanging hoses could easily be damaged by road debris and wind. The solution is to deploy truck air brake hose coils instead. Coiled hoses do not dangle. They act like springs, stretching out as tractor and trailer separate and retracting as they come back together. The hose coil design eliminates dangerous dangling and reduces the risk of damage.

The Challenges

As good as the coil design is for truck brakes and electrical systems, they do possess some challenges. First is the tendency of truck air brake hose coils to get tangled. Think of it in terms of a coiled telephone cord. If you are old enough to remember them, coiled telephone cords tend to get tangled after just a couple of weeks of use. And once they tangle, they can be difficult to get untangled. If a brake hose coil were to tangle en route, the next turn could pull air hoses right out of their couplings.

The other inherent weakness is that hose coils tend to be more prone to severe temperatures in either direction. Because there is more material to work with, and that material has to remain flexible, severe temperatures can cause cracking and breakage. Fortunately, this does not happen all that frequently thanks to the superior materials manufacturers now use.

Here at Mytee Products, we now carry truck air brake hose coils and other related products. We are especially proud of the Tectran 3-in-one AirPower Line  that all but eliminates what Tectran affectionately refers to as the ‘rats nest’. With this brand-new product installed, you will never have to worry about your hose coils getting tangled again. You can check it out here on our website.

Truck air brake hose coils are a normal part of the trucking business. As a truck driver yourself, you want the highest quality hoses and coils you can get your hands on. You want tough products that are well-built and reliable, but still well within your budget. We have just what you need here at Mytee Products.

Truck Air Brakes and Jake Brake: Not the Same Thing

Our role as a leading provider of truck tarps, cargo control equipment, trailer parts and other trucking supplies gives us the opportunity to speak to a lot of people within the trucking industry. It also gives us the opportunity to explain some of the finer points of how trucks work. For example, we sometimes have to explain that a truck air brake and Jake brake are not the same thing. What confuses people is the fact that the Jake brake releases compressed air when activated.

It’s true that both truck air brakes and Jake brake are related to compressed air in terms of function. But that’s the only similarity. The standard air brake is the truck’s equivalent to the hydraulic brakes on a standard passenger car. The Jake brake is not really a break at all. It is a mechanism that helps slow down a truck by manipulating how the diesel engine fires. Both kinds of brakes are explained below.


Truck Air Brake System

A typical truck air brake system utilizes a combination of storage tanks, pumps, and valves to pressurize and depressurize the system. When the tank is empty, the system is depressurized. This results in brakes being fully deployed. In order to release the brakes, the storage canister must be filled with air. This is what we call recharging. The need for recharging explains why truckers have to let air tanks fill up before they can engage first gear and drive away.

Inside the cab, deploying the brakes works the same way as it does in a standard passenger vehicle. The driver simply depresses the brake pedal to stop the vehicle. What’s different is this: instead of forcing hydraulic fluid into the brakes, depressing the brake pedal releases air from the storage tank, thereby moving a piston that forces the brakes to engage. Releasing the brake pedal allows the system to recharge itself, releasing the brakes.

Jake Brake

A Jake brake is a compression release engine brake attached to a diesel engine. Activating the brake opens exhaust valves on the engine to release some of the compressed air inside. This slows the vehicle by slowing down combustion. The Jake brake can slow an idling vehicle substantially.

To understand this better, think of your own passenger vehicle. Even when you take your foot off the accelerator, power is still being transferred from your engine to your transmission and wheels. The only way to interrupt that power is to either shift the car into neutral or shut off the engine. The same is true for big trucks.

The Jake brake slows the truck by reducing the amount of power transferred to the wheels. It allows the truck to slow even when it is still in gear, which is why you might sometimes hear the loud noise caused by a Jake brake as a truck rolls through a lower speed zone. Rather than disengage the gear and apply the standard air brake, a driver may simply choose to take his/her foot off the accelerator and temporarily activate the Jake brake.

The main downside to the Jake brake is that it can make a tremendous amount of noise when deployed. For that reason, some municipalities have limited the use of Jake brakes within their jurisdictions.

As for the standard truck air brake system, it also makes a unique sound. Deploying air brakes tends to make a whooshing sound followed by a hard squeaking. Neither of these noises is terribly loud as long as the system is functioning properly.

Operation Airbrake : A Good Reminder to Drivers and Carriers

Every year, officials in North America join forces to run what is known as ‘Operation Airbrake’, an initiative designed to monitor commercial motor vehicles with brakes that don’t function up to required standards. In 2016, inspections were carried out in May. The good news is that only 760 trucks with potential brake problems were identified. The take-away for truck drivers and carriers from the inspection was – the importance of brake safety.

According to news sources, certified inspectors checked over 6,100 trucks and buses as part of the single day inspection. Among the trucks whose brakes were found to have problems, the split was even between hydraulic and air brake systems.


Truck Brakes Are Critical

Truck drivers and carriers know that their hydraulic brakes or air brakes are critical to stopping large commercial vehicles. But what we sometimes forget is how easily brakes can be compromised when components like truck air brake hose or couplings begin to wear. Because braking systems are under such intense pressure, it doesn’t take much to compromise a system.

We found it interesting that among most of the violations discovered this year, problems were related to ABS rather than the actual air brakes themselves. While ABS problems are not necessarily good problems to have, they are less serious than actual air brake failure. Air brakes are primarily mechanical systems that, if nothing else, will deploy and lock down if they fail completely. When an ABS fails, you are talking about an entirely different problem altogether.

Having said that, drivers and carriers need to remember that a fully-loaded tractor-trailer requires twice the stopping distance as a passenger vehicle at 55 mph. That is under ideal conditions. As conditions begin deteriorating, greater stopping distances may be required. This is why it is critical to make sure braking systems are in optimal shape.

Pre-Trip Inspections

All truck drivers in the U.S. are required to test their brakes as part of their pre-trip inspections. The required test does not necessarily mean getting under the vehicle and checking truck air brake hose connections and tanks. But it does mean completing a few simple procedures inside the cab to make sure everything is working properly.

Truck drivers are required to test:

  • Air brake safety devices
  • Air leakage rate
  • Brake system leakage
  • Low-pressure warning systems
  • Brake system response
  • System recharge rate
  • Properly working service brakes.

Following an established procedure ensures that proper testing is carried out before every trip. A failure to test brakes is not only a violation, but it could also endanger both, the driver and others on the road. As Operation Airbrake demonstrates, there are trucks out there with brakes that are not up to standards.

We Have What You Need

As a leading provider of equipment and supplies for truck drivers, Mytee Products has some of the supplies you will need to maintain your air brake systems. For example, we carry truck air brake hose coils, air brake tubing, airline hose with flexible assemblies, aluminum glad hands, and more.

While you are browsing our air brake supplies, don’t forget to check out our tarps and cargo control supplies. We have just about every kind of tarp you will need along with everything from corner protectors to ratchet straps to bungee straps. We strive to be your one-stop supplier for everything you need to keep your truck driving safely on the road.


1. Safety + Health –

The 3 Most Important Parts of an Air Brake System

The air brake system on a tractor-trailer is a complex system that includes storage tanks, a compressor, valves, hoses, and two different kinds of braking systems: service brakes and emergency brakes. Everything working together ensures that a truck is able to stop safely under any conditions. Yet it only takes one failure to create a serious problem.

If ten truck drivers were to be asked the question, ” what the most important component in a brake system?” chances are there would be ten different answers. From our perspective, however, there are three critical components that make or break every system out there:


1. Air Brake Coils

Those coiled hoses you see spanning the distance between tractor and trailer are known as truck air brake coils. Actually, two of them (one blue and one red) are hoses that work the air brake system on the trailer. The other is a cable that supplies the trailer with electric service.

Truck air brake coils are a critical link between tractor and trailer. If the two hoses and one electrical cable do not functioning properly, a dangerous situation could arise. For example, a driver could be trying to stop without using the trailer brakes, increasing the chances of a dangerous jackknife. Alternatively, a malfunctioning trailer system could deploy by itself while the truck is in motion. This could result in loss of control.

It is critical that truck drivers maintain their air brake coils in top condition. These should always be inspected prior to each journey to ensure they are in good working condition.

2. Emergency Brake System

The emergency brake system does two things. First, it allows the parking brake to be deployed if needed. Second, it maintains a small amount of pressurized air in reserve to stop the truck just in case there is a leak in the service brake system. Emergency brakes exist in both tractors and trailers.

We include emergency brakes in our top three most important components because they provide redundancy. The last thing a truck driver needs is to attempt to stop his/her vehicle, discover he/she has an air leak, and not be able to keep the vehicle under control in order to avoid an accident. Emergency brake systems are designed to give the truck driver that needed control.

3. Air Compressors

Third on our list are the air compressors that make everything work. You can have truck air brake coils and emergency brake systems in perfect working order that could suddenly become useless if compressors fail. Compressors are to air brake systems what fluid reservoirs are to hydraulic brakes.

Unlike hydraulic fluid reservoirs, pressurized air tanks do not maintain a constant level of air on their own. In a hydraulic system, fluid is forced back and forth as the brake pedal is pressed and released. It is a closed system that maintains a constant level of fluid as long as there are no leaks. Air brakes are not a closed system.

When a driver steps on the brake pedal, pressurized air is released from the storage tank then moves through the hoses and into the brake system where it activates a piston that activates the brakes and linings. But releasing the brake pedal does not force the air back in the opposite direction. Instead, air is simply released. It is the job of the compressors to recharge the tanks before the brakes are needed again.

Every part of an air brake system is important, but these three components are at the top of our list. What would be on your list?