Parts + Service

Choosing the Right Air Dryer Cartridge to Protect Your Brakes

Maintaining a clear and dry air supply is vital for the superior, year-round performance of any air brake system. That’s where your air dryer cartridge comes in. Choosing a high-quality air dryer cartridge will help protect your truck and lower the risk for air and braking system failure.

How it Works

Trucks with air brakes have an air compressor on the engine. The compressor keeps the air tanks full, so there’s always air available to stop your vehicle. Air is heated as it’s compressed, and it cools as it travels through the discharge line to your truck’s air tank.

The cooling results in condensation creating pools of water in the bottom of the air tank. The water also contains oil from the compressor and any contaminants that made it through the compressor’s air filter. Your air dryer cartridge’s job is to eliminate the harmful water and contaminants from the air system, preventing rust from damaging your valves and other components.

Quality and Quantity

The overall quality of your air dryer cartridge is determined by two things: the desiccant and the crimp. When it comes to the desiccant, it’s both the quality and quantity that count.

The desiccant is the substance in the can of the air dryer cartridge that absorbs the water and oil. Water and oil are purged from the system periodically through an automatic blast of air through the cartridge. Over time, the desiccant “beads” lose their effectiveness, which is why the cartridge needs to be replaced annually.

The quality and quantity of the desiccant determine how much moisture and oil it can remove from the system, as well as how many “cycles” of purging the cartridge can perform before its effectiveness is reduced. Lower quality beads (found in both new cartridges from low-quality manufacturers and cartridges that are recycled from prior use by “baking” to remove the contaminants) are approximately 30% less effective than new, high-quality beads. Some price point offerings will also use less desiccant to reduce the cost. This can be difficult to determine, but simply weighing the cartridge may provide some insight as to the quantity of desiccant.

The crimp is the other essential aspect in determining the quality of your air dry cartridge. A quality crimp keeps the can from leaking air, which will force your compressor to work harder and create more wear on your engine.

Ultimately, in order to protect your air and braking system from contamination, you need an air dryer cartridge that features quality desiccant and a good crimp. TRP® offers both: high quality desiccant and a crimp durability tested to exceed one million leak-free cycles.

Depending on your application, you should replace your air dryer cartridge annually to ensure optimum performance. Visit your preferred Kenworth dealer for more information on your truck maintenance and TRP air dryer cartridges.

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