Modern Digital Tapley Meters

The Tapley meter has long been in use in garages to allow simple brake performance checks to be conducted but the old mechanical type with spring arm has long been superceded and replaced by a modern, electronic version which can test all vehicle types and provides even more data than previous mechanical versions.

A traditional mechanical Tapley Meter.

So starting in the past – what is a Tapley meter and what are the modern alternatives to it?

A tapley meter is a brand name – the correct terminology for this type of equipment is an accelerometer or though they are also commonly known as “hand-held brake testers”, “decelerometers” or “brake meters”.

Tapley meters use gravity as a fixed constant in order to calculate braking efficiencies when a load is acted upon them (the deceleration phase).

The traditional mechanical tapley consists of a finely balanced pendulum free which is free to respond to any changes in speed or angle, which is driven through a quadrant gear train to rotate a needle round a dial. To damp out all vibration, the instrument is filled with a special fluid which is not sensitive to changes in temperature.

An Electronic Brake Meter Decelerometer

The modern electronic alternative is a compact hand held unit which uses gravity in the same way but can not only calculate stopping distances and efficiencies but also indicate any brake imbalance (vehicle pulling to one side). All this data is obtained in a single test run for each braking system.

The modern TAPLEY version of this unit is available under the BrakeCheck name. This unit is suitable for testing a number of different vehicle types. using two popular versions. Version 1 is used in MOT testing stations as a back-up to the Roller Brake Tester and, with adaptor brackets can test all vehicles from motorcycle upto rigid LGV. This unit has a simple two slot memory for service brake and parking brake. Version 2 is designed for HGV’s with a secondary braking system and it has a third memory slot to cope with this. Further specific options are available for fork-lift trucks, tracked vehicles and even quarry vehicles!

For more general fleet work it may be advisable to consider a GETECH brake testing kit and we have several kits to deal with common applications such as Bus & Coach, HGV or Agricultural vehicle testing. In these litigious times it is important not only to be undertaking regular brake assessments, but also to evidence them in case required at a future date to demonstrate you have a rigorous inspection routine backed up with a paperwork system.

In order to ensure you get the right version you firstly need to understand the range of vehicles you will be testing – for example if you run a small fleet of LGV’s but with a couple of HGV’s then opting for the HGV kit with secondary system is best as it eliminates the need for 2 seperate print-outs and any later requirement to justify or prove that the two print-outs were in fact related to the same vehicle and not mis-filed or reported.

If unsure of your options then you can contact us for personal advice dedicated to your exact testing requirements – we can be reached during normal office hours on 0844 800 9785 or you could mail us at


GETECH supply MOT bays & equipment for all vehicle classes. As a manufacturer within the MOT scheme we are perfectly positioned to remain abridged of current and future known legislation. With a design ethos for total modularity, our equipment is some of the most flexible currently available in the UK.

For more information on GETECH call during office hours, visit or mail

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