Now that we are into Fall, many areas are seeing the shift of seasons; and, winter is not that far off. As of November 1st, chains need to carried in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and many other states & provinces. While many of the stresses of winter driving are ahead of us, it is important to remember there are some procedures that should be done year round. A pre-trip inspection is one; it is a critical part of every trip, no matter what time of year it is.

Here is the step by step guide to a good pre-trip inspection that includes all details required by the DOT:

Engine Compartment Check:

Open the hood of the truck and check the following areas:

  • Suspension
  • Springs
  • Brakes
  • Tire bases
  • Inspect for any oil, fuel, or antifreeze leaks
  • Fluid levels on both sides of engine (oil – make sure it is full, transmission, antifreeze, etc.)
  • Make sure all fluid caps are secure

Tire, Fifth Wheel, Suspension Check:

Be sure to check ALL tires on the truck and trailer; make sure you carry a good hammer in order to check tire pressure. Check the following:

  • All tires with the hammer – hit the hammer on the top of the tire and check for full air
  • Lug nuts on wheels – they should be tight with no rust or leaking
  • Signs of wear on tires
  • Note low tires, wear or any other issues on your pre-trip sheet; be sure to note the location of each issue
  • Fifth wheel should be straight, clean and latched in the correct position; also, make sure it is locked
  • Trailer suspension slide handle and air hose
  • Trailer springs and suspension; make sure there are no oil leaks
  • Airline & spring suspension

Fuel Tank Check:

Be sure to inspect the tank on the truck and trailer. Check for the following:

  • Trailer fuel lines
  • Leaks – note that it is common to have a bit of residue on the outside of the fuel tank, especially on the truck. But, you don’t want to see a significant amount leaking out of the fuel tank
  • Check fuel levels and write down how much is in each tank on the pre-trip inspection sheet.

Interior Truck Check:

The inside is just as important, be sure to check:

  • Gauges – Turn the key on – make sure gauges functioning properly. For the air gauges, 100-120 psi is normal
  • Brake knobs
  • Transmission
  • Mirrors and glass for cracks and anything that would obstruct vision
  • Anything unsecured in cab

Trailer Check:

A thorough inspection of the trailer must also be done. Check the following areas:

  • Documentation – make sure it is in the case at the front of the trailer
  • Glad hands – make sure that thy are secure, and that the rubber is in good shape
  • Lights – all should be in good working order, especially the license plate light at the back of the trailer
  • Damages on outside of trailer – if any are observed, note on pre-trip inspection sheet. Make sure to do a thorough check and mark an “x” on the diagram to wherever you see damage.
  • Landing gear – raise it up to make sure it is working.
  • Door latches; open trailer doors and check inside for damages and note any on pre-trip inspection sheet
  • Do a line check from the back to make sure everything looks good down the trailer
  • Check Reefer Unit
    • Check belts, hoses, look for fluid leaks
    • Check oil
    • Make sure reefer door is secure
    • Check stop, start run mode & set point – check to make sure all are working

These are the key areas to check in a pre-trip inspection and will take about 25 minutes to perform. The key is to do the inspection with each and every trip, which will ensure any issues are discovered and dealt with before they become major.

We have created a video in partnership with TC Trans to assist in pre-trip inspection essentials. Check it out!

Pre-trip Inspections: A Year-Round Committment was last modified: by