The CVSA’s three-day International Roadcheck may be over, but the inspections will continue every single day, without fail. Every truck driver has been trained on how to do a pre-trip truck inspection. But, do they actually take the time to go through this process every time they hit the road? Maybe. Maybe not.
Pre-trip inspections are important because it’s your responsibility to ensure everything in your vehicle is operating correctly. Not only will this keep you, your vehicle, and those sharing the road with you safe, it can also save you valuable money and roll time.
A normal pre-trip inspection takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes if nothing is wrong with your vehicle. Ready to get started? Here is a summary of what you need to look at when performing a pre-trip truck inspection:
Truck Front and Engine
Pop the hood and look at all your truck’s components including your fluids. Critical fluids include power steering, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and engine oil. Your checklist should include the water pump, alternator, and the air compressor as well. Lastly, make sure you inspect the suspension, brakes, and tires.
Truck Rear and Side
Walk around the sides and rear of the truck to examine the air hoses, exhaust, and the catwalk. Inspect the drive axle as well as the tires, brakes, and suspension from this perspective.
Make sure you specifically check the fifth wheel and kingpin. The tractor portions include the skid plate, slide locking pin, and the pivot pin and release arm. Be sure to always circle back and examine the trailer portion, which includes the apron, the bottom of the trailer, and the kingpin.
Engine Start and Cab Check
The cab check is just as much about your safety as it is for your comfort. You should begin with checking your seatbelt, your shifting distance, clutch room, and the state of your parking brake. Once you turn your vehicle on, check the windshield wipers, the gauges, the heat and defrost, and the vehicle lights. Take some time to also build air pressure for the airbrakes for your brake check.
Take extra care here and ensure all aspects of the brake system are in proper order. This includes the air brakes, parking brakes, and hydraulic brakes.
Your safety is important so be sure to confirm the cab includes a fire extinguisher, three safety triangles, and electrical fuses. A first aid kit is always a good idea as well as an emergency blanket, and the like.
Pre-trip inspections help minimize problems on the road. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or a newly minted driver with a fresh CDL, take the time to go through with the inspection. You could save yourself time, money, and potentially your own life or someone else’s down the road.