ENGINE COMPARTMENT (ENGINE OFF)
Leaks/Hoses (Pre Trip Inspection)
Look for puddles on the ground.
Look for dripping fluids on the underside of the engine and transmission.
Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.
Oil Level (Pre Trip Inspection)
Indicate where the dipstick is located.
Make sure the oil level is within safe operating range. The level must be above the refill mark.
Coolant Level (Pre Trip Inspection)
Inspect the reservoir sight glass, or
If the engine is not hot, remove the radiator cap and check for visible coolant level.
Power Steering Fluid (Pre Trip Inspection)
Indicate where the power steering fluid dipstick is located.
Check for adequate power steering fluid level. The level must be above the refill mark.
Engine Compartment Belts (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check the following belts for snugness (up to ¾ inch play at center of belt), cracks, or frays:
Power steering belt.
Water pump belt.
Air compressor belt.
Note: If any of the components listed above are not belt driven, you must:
Make sure the component(s) are operating properly, are not damaged or leaking, and are mounted securely.
Pre Trip Inspection Cab Check/Engine Start
Clutch/Gearshift (Pre Trip Inspection)
Depress the clutch.
Place the gearshift lever in neutral (or park, for automatic transmissions).
Start the engine, then release the clutch slowly.
Oil Pressure Gauge (Pre Trip Inspection)
Make sure the oil pressure gauge is working.
Check that the pressure gauge shows increasing or normal oil pressure, or that the warning light goes off.
If equipped, the oil temperature gauge should begin a gradual rise to the normal operating range.
Temperature Gauge (Pre Trip Inspection)
Make sure the temperature gauge is working.
The temperature should begin to climb to the normal operating range or the temperature light should be off.
Ammeter/Voltmeter (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that the gauges show the alternator and/or generator is charging or that the warning light is off.
Air/Vacuum Gauge (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check for proper operation of, and acceptable readings on the air and/or vacuum gauge(s).
Speedometer (Pre Trip Inspection)
The speedometer should be present, not obscured or obviously broken.
Mirrors and Windshield (Pre Trip Inspection)
Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside.
Windshield should be clean with no illegal stickers, obstructions, or damage to the glass.
Emergency Equipment (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check for spare electrical fuses.
Check for three red reflective triangles.
Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
Steering Play (Pre Trip Inspection)
Non-power steering: Check for excessive play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about two inches on a 20-
Power steering: With the engine running, check for excessive play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about
two inches on a 20-inch wheel) before the front left wheel barely moves.
Wipers/Washers (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that wiper arms and blades are secure, not damaged, and operate smoothly.
If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.
Lighting Indicators (Pre Trip Inspection)
Test that dash indicators work when the corresponding lights are turned on:
Left turn signal.
Right turn signal.
4-way emergency flashers.
High beam headlight.
Horn (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that air horn and/or electric horn work.
Heater/Defroster (Pre Trip Inspection)
Test that the heater and defroster works.
Safety Belt (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that the safety belt is securely mounted, adjusts, and latches properly.
Lights/Reflectors (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that all external lights and reflective equipment are clean and functional.
Light and reflector checks include:
Clearance lights (red on rear, amber elsewhere).
Headlights (high and low beams).
Red reflectors (on rear) and amber reflectors (elsewhere).
Pre Trip Inspection Brake Check
Parking Brake Check (Pre Trip Inspection)
Apply parking brake only and make sure it will hold the vehicle by shifting into a lower gear and gently pulling against the brake.
Hydraulic Brake Check (Pre Trip Inspection)
With the engine running, apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal and hold for five seconds. The brake pedal should not move (depress) during
the five seconds.
If equipped with a hydraulic brake reserve (backup) system, with the key off, depress the brake pedal and listen for the sound of the reserve system electric
Check that the warning buzzer and/or light is off.
Check the service (foot) brake operation by moving the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 mph) and apply the brake firmly. Note any vehicle “pulling” to one side,
unusual feel or delayed stopping action.
Air Brake Check (air brake equipped vehicles only) (Pre Trip Inspection)
Air brake safety devices vary. However, this procedure is designed to see that any safety device operates correctly as air pressure drops from normal to a low air
condition. For safety purposes, in areas where an incline is present, you will need to use wheel chocks during the air brake check. The proper procedures for
inspecting the air brake system are as follows:
Test Air Leakage Rate (Static check) (Pre Trip Inspection)
With a fully-charged air system (typically 120 psi), turn off the engine, chock the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake button (all vehicles) and trailer air supply
button (for combination vehicles) and time the air pressure drop. After the initial pressure drop, the loss rate should be no more than 2 psi in one minute for single
vehicles and no more than 3 psi in one minute for combination vehicles.
Test Air Brake System for Leaks (Pre Trip Inspection)
With parking brake, (all vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination vehicles) released (pushed in), apply firm pressure to the service brake pedal. Watch
the air supply gauge and listen for leaks. After the initial pressure drop, the loss rate for single vehicles should be no more than 3 psi in one minute and no more
than 4 psi in one minute for combination vehicles. If the air loss rate exceeds these figures, have the air system repaired before operating.
Test Low Pressure Warning Alarm and/or Signal (Pre Trip Inspection)
Turn the key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release the service brake pedal to reduce air tank pressure. The low air pressure warning signal must come on
before the pressure drops to less than 60 psi in the air tank. If the warning alarm/signal doesn’t work, you could be losing air pressure without knowing it. This could
cause the spring brakes to activate suddenly. Only limited braking can be done before the spring brakes come on.
Check That the Spring Brakes Come on Automatically.
Continue to rapidly apply and release the service brake pedal to further reduce air tank pressure. The trailer air supply button (if it is a combination vehicle) and
parking brake button should pop out when the air pressure falls to the manufacturer’s specification (usually between 20 to 40 psi). This causes the spring brakes to
Check Rate of Air Pressure Buildup (Pre Trip Inspection)
When the engine is operating at 1800 RPM, the pressure should build from 85 to 100 psi within 45 seconds in dual air systems. (If the vehicle has larger than
minimum air tanks, the buildup time can be longer and still be safe. Check the manufacturer’s specifications.) If air pressure does not build up fast enough, your
pressure may drop too low during driving, requiring an emergency stop. Don’t drive until you get the problem fixed.
Test Service Brakes (Pre Trip Inspection)
Wait for normal air pressure, release the parking brake and trailer air supply button
(for combination vehicles), move the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 mph), and apply the brakes firmly using the brake pedal. Note any vehicle “pulling” to one side,
unusual feel, or delayed stopping action. This test may show you problems which you otherwise wouldn’t know about until you needed the brakes on the road.
External Components Pre Trip Inspection (Passenger Bus/Truck/Tractor)
STEERING (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that the steering box is securely mounted and not leaking. Look for any missing nuts, bolts, and cotter keys.
Check for power steering fluid leaks or damage to power steering hoses.
See that connecting links, arms, and rods from the steering box to the wheel are not worn or cracked.
Check that joints and sockets are not worn or loose and that there are no missing nuts, bolts, or cotter keys.
SUSPENSION (Pre Trip Inspection)
Look for missing, shifted, cracked, or broken leaf springs.
Look for broken or distorted coil springs.
If the vehicle is equipped with torsion bars, torque arms, or other types of suspension components, check that they are not damaged and are mounted
Air ride suspension should be checked for damage and leaks.
Look for cracked or broken spring hangers, missing or damaged bushings, and broken, loose, or missing bolts, U-bolts or other axle mounting parts. (The
mounts should be checked at each point where they are secured to the vehicle frame and axle(s)). This includes mounts used for air ride systems.
See that shock absorbers are secure and that there are no leaks.
BRAKES (Pre Trip Inspection)
Look for broken, loose, or missing parts.
The angle between the push rod and adjuster arm should be a little over 90 degrees when the brakes are released, and not less than 90 degrees when the
brakes are applied.
When pulled by hand, the brake rod should not move more than one inch (with the brakes released).
See that brake chambers are not leaking, cracked, or dented and are mounted securely.
Look for cracked, worn, or leaking hoses, lines, and couplings.
Drum Brake or Rotor
Check for cracks, dents, or holes. Also check for loose or missing bolts.
Brake linings or pads (where visible) should not be worn dangerously thin.
On some brake drums, there are openings where the brake linings can be seen from outside the drum. For this type of drum, check that a visible amount of
brake lining is showing.
WHEELS (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check for damaged or bent rims. Rims cannot have welding repairs.
The following items must be inspected on every tire:
Tread depth: Check for minimum tread depth (4/32 on steering axle tires, 2/32 on all other tires).
Tire condition: Check that tread is evenly worn and look for cuts or other damage to tread or sidewalls. Also, make sure valve caps and stems are not
missing, broken, or damaged.
Tire inflation: Check for proper inflation by using a tire gauge, or inflation by striking tires with a mallet or other similar device.
Hub Oil Seals/Axle Seals
See that hub oil/grease seals and axle seals are not leaking and, if wheel has a sight glass, oil level is adequate.
Check that all lug nuts are present, free of cracks and distortions, and show no signs of looseness such as rust trails or shiny threads.
Make sure all bolt holes are not cracked or distorted.
If equipped, check that spacers are not bent, damaged, or rusted through.
Spacers should be evenly centered, with the dual wheels and tires evenly separated.
SIDE OF VEHICLE (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that door(s) are not damaged and that they open and close properly from the outside.
Hinges should be secure with seals intact.
Check that mirror(s) and mirror brackets are not damaged and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.
Check that tank(s) are secure, cap(s) are tight, and there are no leaks from tank(s) or lines.
Wherever located, see that battery(s) are secure, connections are tight, and cell caps are present.
Battery connections should not show signs of excessive corrosion.
Battery box and cover or door must be secure.
See that drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
Couplings should be secure and free of foreign objects.
Check system for damage and signs of leaks such as rust or carbon soot.
System should be connected tightly and mounted securely.
Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage to the longitudinal frame members, cross members, box, and floor.
REAR OF VEHICLE (Pre Trip Inspection)
If equipped, check that splash guards or mud flaps are not damaged and are mounted securely.
Check that doors and hinges are not damaged and that they open, close, and latch properly from the outside, if equipped.
Ties, straps, chains, and binders must also be secure.
If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts.
Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.
TRACTOR/COUPLING (Pre Trip Inspection)
Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced, or worn (steel braid should not show through).
Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled, pinched, or dragging against tractor parts.
Make sure the catwalk is solid, clear of objects, and securely bolted to tractor frame.
Look for loose or missing mounting brackets, clamps, bolts, or nuts. Both the fifth wheel and the slide mounting must be solidly attached.
On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle hook, tow bars, tow bar eye, etc.), inspect all coupling components and mounting brackets for
missing or broken parts.
Look into fifth wheel gap and check that locking jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.
On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle hook, etc.), inspect the locking mechanism for missing or broken parts and make sure it is locked
securely. If present, safety cables or chains must be secure and free of kinks and excessive slack (locking pin, safety latch, chains and brackets).
Platform (fifth wheel)
Check for cracks or breaks in the platform structure which supports the fifth wheel skid plate.
Release Arm (fifth wheel)
If equipped, make sure the release arm is in the engaged position and the safety latch is in place.
Check that the kingpin is not bent.
Make sure the visible part of the apron is not bent, cracked, or broken.
Check that the trailer is laying flat on the fifth wheel skid plate (no gap).
Locking Pins (fifth wheel)
If equipped, look for loose or missing pins in the slide mechanism of the sliding fifth wheel. If air powered, check for leaks.
Make sure locking pins are fully engaged.
Check that the fifth wheel is positioned properly so the tractor frame will clear the landing gear and the tractor will not strike the trailer during turns.
Trailer Pre Trip Inspection
Check that trailer air connectors are sealed and in good condition.
Make sure glad hands are locked in place, free of damage or air leaks.
Make sure the trailer electrical plug is firmly seated and locked in place.
If equipped, check the header board to see that it is secure, free of damage, and strong enough to contain cargo.
If equipped, the canvas or tarp carrier must be mounted and fastened securely.
On enclosed trailers, check the front area for signs of damage such as cracks, bulges, or holes.
SIDE OF TRAILER (Pre Trip Inspection)
Check that the landing gear is fully raised, has no missing parts, crank handle is secure, and the support frame is not damaged.
If power operated, check for air or hydraulic leaks.
If equipped, check that doors are not damaged. Check that doors open, close, and latch properly from the outside.
Check that ties, straps, chains, and binders are secure.
If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts.
Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.
Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage to the frame, cross members, box, and floor.
Tandem Release Arm/Locking Pins
If equipped, make sure the locking pins are locked in place and release arm is secured.
REMAINDER OF TRAILER (Pre Trip Inspection)
Please refer to the previous sections for detailed inspection procedures regarding the following components: