Why is a pre-trip inspection needed?
Generally, it is required by law to perform a pre-trip truck inspection at least every 24-hour driving period. The truck pre-trip inspection test should be the start of any truck driver’s day. A good inspection should take at least half an hour to complete. Being thorough will help ensure you do not miss any needed repairs or law violations. The most common reason for a truck to fail a roadside safety inspection is because “common sense” steps were missed.
What is included in a pre-trip inspection checklist?
In general, most inspections require the same points to be inspected. However, some companies may have additions to their inspection requirements. The following is a list of the most common items that should be inspected daily.
- Medical card keep this on you always and check the expiration date.
- Leaks check the engine block, all hoses and connections, and beneath the truck for leaks. Note any leaks present, then make sure the necessary repairs are completed.
- Fluid levels ensuring all fluids are at recommended levels will prevent any surprise damages. Check the function of the oil pressure gauge and all caps and dipsticks, these should not be cracked or loose.
- Belts within the engine compartment. All belts should be checked to ensure they are not loose, frayed or too dry.
- Steering regardless of whether the steering has power or not, there should not be any play in the steering wheel. This could cause the driver to lose control. Also, test the horn at this time.
- Transmission the clutch and gear shift should move smoothly and into all gears.
- Brakes both brakes and emergency brakes for the truck and trailer should be in full working order. Any malfunction, breaks or leaks can cause an accident which can be fatal to all involved.
- Mirrors and windshield both should be check for damage, obstruction keeping them from proper placement, and cleanliness.
- Air lines any leaks or broken lines need to be fixed immediately. While checking these, the fifth wheel, if attached already, should be coupled tightly without play.
- Lights and reflectors all lights should be in working order, including the emergency lights. Reflectors and reflective strips checked for dried, broken or missing pieces.
- Tires, wheels and rims each tire should be checked for proper air pressure, tread and any wires showing or dry rot beginning to appear. Check the rims for flat spots or damage. The wheels need to be inspected for any rust, especially around the lug nuts; this can cause larger holes preventing them from fitting properly. If rims/wheels have been painted, make sure rust has not been covered up. While you are checking your tires, look at the brakes and make sure they have the proper depth.
- Emergency equipment this is especially important if you are not the only driver for this truck. All trucks are required to have safety equipment on board. This includes, but is not limited to, spare electrical fuses in good shape, reflective triangles, and a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
After the inspection is complete and all problems have been noted and repaired, then complete the paperwork required for the log books.
Consequences of an incomplete inspection
Pre-trip inspection rules are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If an inspection is not completed, or steps have been overlooked, this can result in the driver receiving Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) violations, as well as, legal violations. The numbers received from these violations go on the driver’s record and can result in being flagged for a visit by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Another consequence is preventable damage to the engine or vehicle. Being involved in an accident can also occur from important repairs being missed.
Although, pre-trip inspections are just as important for the truck as a good, healthy meal is to a driver. Skipping steps to hurry the process or falsifying reports not only hurts the driver’s record, but also risks potential truck issues/failure and the possibility of losing work.