What Is a Jake Brake?


The Jacobs Engine Brake, or Jake Brake, is an add-on engine-braking system for tractor-trailers. Jacobs Company sells the compression-release engine brake, which reduces the need for using regular brakes.

How It Works

  • The Jake Brake vents a truck's engine-cylinder gases through the exhaust system before the compressed gases can provide power to the wheels. An exhaust valve in each cylinder opens to vent the gases.


  • In 1931, future Jake Brake inventor Clessie L. Cummins was driving a diesel truck down Cajon Pass toward San Bernardino, Calif. He couldn't stop the truck on the steep incline and nearly collided with a freight train.


  • According to the Jacobs Company, the Jake Brake has been on the market since 1961.

Reducing Brake Wear

  • The Jake Brake reduces wear on a truck's regular brakes, so they don't require replacement as often, the company says.


  • Trucks with the Jake Brake are louder than those without it. On a vehicle with a poorly muffled or unmuffled pipes, the system can boost the engine sound 16 to 22 decibels higher than normal.

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