What is an engine brake solenoid?

What is an engine brake solenoid?

An engine brake solenoid is a valve that works on electricity. On heavier vehicles like trucks and buses, you will need more force to stop the vehicle. That’s why bigger vehicles use engine brakes that work on a solenoid valve. 

When you use the brake pedal, the brake solenoids get activated. There are two solenoids in the braking system, one for the front 1,2,3 cylinder of the engine and another for the rear 4,5,6 cylinders. These solenoids use oil pressure to affect small cylinders that keep the specific valves open in the engine.

When the engine’s pistons are moving up in the compression strokes, the solenoids get turned on. Based on the solenoids, there are three levels or settings for these brakes. 

In the first setting, only the front solenoid gets turned on. Which makes the front three cylinders work and brake.

In the second setting, only the rear solenoids get turned on, which activates the rear cylinders.

And in the third setting, both solenoids are activated, making every cylinder in both front and rear work. Also, there is a component called the VGT turbo actuator, which joins in the action too. 

This VGT turbo actuator works as an extra brake that controls the engine’s exhaust and helps to slow down the vehicle.

What does a brake solenoid do?

A solenoid brake, also known as an engine brake solenoid, is a special kind of brake that works electrically. This brake is a specialized system that can be controlled using electricity. When you want to stop a large vehicle, you send an electrical signal through sensors to the solenoid brake, and it releases the brake.

Basically, a brake solenoid is an electrical component that works on sensors, and when you apply the brake, the solenoid sensor gets turned on, and the exhaust valve closes and makes the engine slow down.

These brakes are often used together with regular brakes to help control the heavy things lifted by machines like cargo trucks.

But when the electricity is turned off, the spring comes into action and puts the brake back on.

See Also: Can You Use Engine Brake in Snow? Expert Tips for Winter Driving

What Causes Engine Brake Solenoid Failure?

Solenoid valve failures usually happen because either the electromagnetic coil that powers the valve breaks or the valve sensor malfunctions. Here are some common reasons why solenoid valves fail:

  1. Incorrect Voltage: If the solenoid valve gets passed too much voltage, it can burn out and stop working, just like any other electrical component. It’s important to make sure that the voltage of the valve is the same as the irrigation system. 

You can add protection against these voltage spikes caused by things like lightning by using electrical surge protectors.

  1. Liquid Contact: As we know, solenoid valves are electrical devices, so any contact with water or other liquids can make them short-circuit and malfunction. 

To prevent this from happening, you will have to see proper connection cables and seals. For outdoor or damp areas, extra protection, like high-quality valve boxes, can keep the valves dry.

  1. Sediment Damage:  Although it’s rare that any small bits of dirt or debris can get into the valve sensor and cause malfunction. 

But if there is any dirt or debris stuck, it can damage the valve sensor and prevent it from working properly. 

Installing filters upstream and placing the valve vertically can help keep sediment away.

  1. Excess Water Pressure: If the water pressure is higher than what the valve can handle, the valve might break down or cause damage to the irrigation system. 

Always make sure the pressure is within the valve’s limits before applying it.

  1. Temperature Changes: significant temperature changes in the mechanism can also harm solenoid valves. 

These valves sensor have specific temperature limits. Extremely hot or cold weather can wear them down, which may cost a solenoid valve replacement.


I trust that this article on “What is an engine brake solenoid?” has provided you with valuable insights. Thank you for taking the time to read and explore this information.

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