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Old 02-26-2017, 01:45 AM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2017
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Air brakes and air endorsment

Good day all this is a great forum
I currently do not have a motorhome as we pull a trailer. However as I am now retired my wife and I are thinking of upgrading.
The question I have is.. a lot if class A units and large class C units are equipped with air brakes
As a heavy duty mechanic I have an air endorsment on my license.
Do all states and provinces require an air endorsment on you licence to operate one with air brakes.
The reason I ask is that a few years ago my wife and I were camped in a site on the Alaska Highway and a very nice couple pulled in beside us with a high end diesel pusher
In talking to him he mentioned that he was very glad he had an engine brake as he was going to stop and have his wheel brakes checked as soon as possible as they seemed weak.
I asked him when the was the last time he had checked his slack adjusters and he gave me a vacant look.
So I climbed under the unit and checked.
They were all WAY out of adjustment.
So I set them up for him and got him to slide under the unit so I could show him how to do it.
He was told he had auto slacks so no adjustment is necessary.
He had been using the engine brake and only lightly using his wheel brakes so the auto slacks never did ratchet up.
I asked him if he had an air endorsment and he said no. The salesman had told him how high the gauge needed to be before he could release his park brake and that was it !!!!!!
I told him to do several hard high pressure brake applications each morning before hitting g the road to ratchet his slacks and to actually check them each day if possible and I showed him how to do it.
He had standard stroke brake pots where I thought he would have had long stroke as it was a fairly new unit. you have an air endorsment on your license if you have air brakes and is it a requirement in your state or province...
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Old 02-26-2017, 04:01 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum.

I do not have an endorsement but took the air endorsement written test when going through the difficult task of getting a non commercial class B in California. I won't get into that long boring story.

I think I made the same mistake of thinking they would self adjust properly. They are kept properly lubed and visually inspected.
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Old 02-26-2017, 07:34 AM   #3
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This requirement will very from state to state based on how they classify RV's by weight and type, and what each state requires for a license to drive that particular RV in that state. For example in New York if you have ANY RV with a GCW over 26,000lbs you need an "R" endorsement on your license, but this "R" endorsement has no requirement for air brake knowledge, because some p/u's with 5th wheels fall into this weight class and have Hyd. brakes.
I think the Air Endorsement is strictly a Commercial Drivers License thing.
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:18 AM   #4
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Several hard brake applications each travel day is good advice, be sure to release the parking brake before doing this.
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Old 02-26-2017, 09:26 AM   #5
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In Texas, air brakes is not an endorsement, it is a restriction "L", and only appears on CDL's. That restriction does not appear on non-CDL Class A or B.
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Old 02-26-2017, 09:42 AM   #6
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Michigan basically has two levels of licensing. A standard operators license (good for up to 26,000 lbs) - which can have a cycle endorsements (needed for motorcycles) and/or a Chauffeur's endorsement (needed for commercial operation of a vehicle under 26,000 lbs to haul goods and/or people). The second level of licensing is a full blown CDL. In Michigan - driving an RV (regardless of size and/or type) to move family and personal belongings is explicitly exempt from requiring a CDL. Basically - a standard driver's license is all you need to drive any Class A.
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Old 02-26-2017, 10:12 AM   #7
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Air brakes and air endorsment

Depends on the state as already covered. The vast majority of states require little or no instruction or testing to drive any non commercial motorhome.
I have had and still hold a cdl and personally believe all states should at least require some training on air brakes and their operation. Perhaps not a full cdl drive test as it took me several weeks of training and driving practice but the basic knowledge should be required. The RV industry doesn't want any of this as sales would be adversely affected, even though anyone can learn this stuff . It's concerning what people don't know
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Old 02-26-2017, 10:22 AM   #8
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IN requires nothing special for a motor home. Just a std. license good for any auto works for any motor home. Guess it may be partly due to so many being built here...

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Old 02-26-2017, 06:34 PM   #9
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Manitoba requires an air-endorsement to operate a air brake equipped vehicle. A written and a practical test to test your understanding of the braking system are required to get the endorsement.
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Old 02-26-2017, 06:43 PM   #10
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WA has no requirements for anything but a normal Class C license no matter how big your personally owned MH is and no testing for air brake knowledge either.
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Old 02-26-2017, 06:51 PM   #11
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Here in Florida, a motorhome with air brakes do NOT need an endorsement.

Buttttttt, after reading this page, I will go on line, download an air break study manual, just for the information and knowledge. Am sure it will not hurt, and definitely will come in handy.
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Old 02-26-2017, 07:02 PM   #12
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Here's what the BC government has to say---
Driving an RV
Drivers usually do not need a commercial licence to drive a motor home. However, Drivers may need a special endorsement if the motor home is
towing something in excess of 4600 kgs. Drivers will also need an air brake endorsement if the motor home has air brakes.
I do think anyone driving a MH with air brakes should for their's and other's safety, take an air brake course. JMHO.
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Old 02-26-2017, 07:56 PM   #13
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PA Air Brake Endorsement

PA does require a Non Commercial Class B license for vehicles over 26,000lb or a Class A if towing in excess of 10,000lb. The test does include knowlege of air brakes but no written test is required and no special endorsement is given. If you take the test in a vehicle with mechanical brakes they don't ask the air brake questions.
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Old 02-27-2017, 11:12 AM   #14
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Thank you for the replies.
I was very surprised when I was at a RV show a year ago in Vancouver.
I was in a large class A and a salesman was giving the pitch to a prospective customer. The customer asked what the yellow button was on the dash and the salesman said it was the park brake. Air brake system.
The customer asked if there was anything special about that system and the salesman said NO.
I find it scary that any sales department would not fully disclose the requirement for an air endorsment and knowledge of air brakes.
With the weight of class A and super class C units it is scary that they would be driven by drivers with no knowledge that their brakes are not like those on their car or truck.
Even though I do not have air brakes on my set up I still pull into brake checks before steep hills and do a walk around check.
I do not see heavy rv units pulling into brake checks.
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