Making sure drivers and roadways are safe is a major concern for commercial truck drivers and operators. Daily pre-trip vehicle inspections are designed with these safety concerns in mind – to protect drivers, alert carriers to mechanical problems, and achieve a higher level of safety and compliance in commercial vehicles operating on the highway or in the city.
It is important to understand how to perform a proper pre-trip inspection to ensure your vehicle is able to make the trip to its destination safely.
Read on to learn more about the basics of pre-trip inspections of tractor trailers, and how to perform a proper inspection.
What Is Pre-Trip Inspection?
A pre-trip inspection involves the driver performing a thorough check of his or her vehicle, making sure each part is working as required. The purpose of these daily vehicle inspections is to identify and report any defects on your commercial vehicle, and to help take vehicles with safety concerns that are likely to lead to a collision or vehicle breakdown off the roads until proper repairs are made.
Finding and addressing problems with proper pre-trip inspections can help drivers avoid costly HTA violations that can lead to high fines. Catching potential safety issues early can also help reduce the length and frequency your vehicle is out of service for repairs.
When Is A Pre-Trip Inspection Required?
Drivers of a commercial truck or tractor trailer with a gross weight exceeding 4,500 kg are responsible for completing a schedule 1 pre-trip inspection on their vehicle.
A pre-trip inspection is required before the start of each driving shift and once over the course of every 24 hours while on the road. Before heading out on the road, drivers are required by law to inspect their truck and trailer for possible mechanical issues and safety concerns.
How Long Should A Pre-Trip Inspection Take?
There is no regulated time requirement for pre-trip inspections. However, a complete pre-trip inspection can generally take drivers anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes.
How To Do A Proper Pre-Trip Inspection
Follow these inspection points when completing a pre-trip inspection on your tractor trailer, noting any defects you find.
Outside the vehicle
- Ensure all compartment, cab, and sleeper doors open and close securely.
- Check all cargo is properly secured with undamaged, unworn load covering and securement devices.
- Inspect coupling devices for loose or missing fasteners.
- Inspect exhaust system for leaks, including within the driver cab area.
- Ensure the fuel tank and fuel are secure and free of leaks.
- Identify any general vehicle damage or deterioration.
- Check mirrors and windows are free of cracks or damage and are properly secured.
- Ensure lamps and reflectors are undamaged and functioning properly.
- Inspect suspension system for air leaks, missing or broken fasteners or spring leaf.
- Check the tread and sidewall of tires for damage or wear. Ensure there are no flat tires or air leaks, no contact between tires and other vehicle components, and there are no exposed cords.
- Ensure wheel hubs and fasteners are secure, undamaged, and not leaking. Hub oil should be above the minimum level.
Inside the vehicle
- Inspect driver seat for damage, ensuring seat can be set and remain in proper position.
- Check that seat belt is secure and can be properly fastened.
- Ensure emergency equipment and safety devices are accessible and undamaged.
- Inspect the frame and cargo body for shifting, sagging, or other damage.
- Ensure heater/defroster is operating correctly.
- Check the vehicle’s horn is operating correctly.
- Check the air brake system, noting any air leaks, air pressure loss, or inoperational service, parking, or emergency brake.
- Ensure the parking brake is operative.
- Ensure driver controls including the accelerator, clutch, gauges, and indicators are functioning properly.
- Check headlights are operating, including: low beams, tail lamps, turn signals, and brake lamps.
- Inspect steering wheel, ensuring it is secure, functioning properly, and wheel lash is within normal range.
- Ensure windshield wipers are functioning, and blades are not missing or damaged. Wipers should adequately clear driver’s field of vision.
For more information on pre-trip inspection requirements, download the full CDL Pre Trip Inspection Checklist here.