As a professional driver, you rely on your truck to operate at peak performance to keep you and those around you safe. That’s why it’s so important to conduct thorough pre-trip and post-trip inspections — and even check in on your truck and its load during your travels while at a weigh station or rest stop.
Keep the answers to these seven frequently asked inspection questions top-of-mind, so you stay road-worthy throughout the year.
How often should I inspect my truck?
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require pre- and post-trip inspections. You should inspect your truck at the start and end of every shift. You should also do an inspection every time you swap drivers or trailers.
What are the benefits of pre, during and post-trip inspections?
Pre-trip and during-trip inspections can help you identify any mechanical issues that could develop while you’re on the road. Post-trip inspections allow you to find problems and report them to dispatch so they’re fixed before the next driver starts their shift.
When you perform routine inspections, you minimize over-the-road breakdowns, meet delivery deadlines and prevent potentially costly delays.
What must I check during a pre-trip inspection?
You must check:
- Service brakes
- Trailer brake connection
- Parking brake
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Emergency equipment
- Coupling devices
How long should an inspection take?
Budget at least 10 to 15 minutes. Follow the same pattern for each inspection so you don’t miss any key areas. For example, you can start at the front end by checking under the hood, then move counter-clockwise to the right-front, right-rear, trailer, left-rear, left-front, and finally, the interior.
What are the most common vehicle problems?
According to FMCSA, inoperable lamps were the most frequent violation last year, occurring about 12% of the time. Other common offenses include:
- Operating without proof of a periodic inspection
- Clamp or roto-type brake out of adjustment
- No, discharged, or unsecured fire extinguisher
- Inoperable turn signal
Which items are most overlooked in an inspection?
The most commonly overlooked items are engine fluids, hoses and wires, brakes and suspension, mudflaps, license plates, trailer registration and inspection paperwork.
What about the interior of my truck?
Make sure all HOS logs are up to date. In addition, keep your cab clean. In the event of an unscheduled roadside inspection, a tidy cab will make it clear to the inspector that you care for all parts of your vehicle.