How to Do a Pre-Trip Inspection

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Class 1, 2, and 3 vehicles must complete a full circle check before any trip.
Class 1, 2, and 3 vehicles must complete a full circle check before any trip. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

When preparing a large vehicle to go on the road, it is the driver’s responsibility to complete a through pre-trip safety inspection. Not only is it illegal for a truck to be on the road without a pre-trip inspection, but failing to complete an inspection can result in a serious highway collision and the loss of human life. To prevent unnecessary accidents, make sure you complete a full circle check of the vehicle before heading out on the road—this six-step examination is a legal requirement and the driver must make note of each inspection in his log book.

Approach the vehicle and complete a visual examination of the entire body of the vehicle. Check the body to make sure there is no substantial damage that could impede the vehicle’s performance. Look underneath the vehicle and check for any signs of fluid leaks. Finally, examine each of the wheels to make sure they are not blocked.

Check the parking brake to make sure it is in working order. To do this, start the engine of the vehicle and idle the vehicle with the transmission engaged. Apply the parking brake and make sure the vehicle doesn’t move. If the parking brake doesn’t hold the vehicle, you must report the issue since the vehicle is not safe to be on the road.

Open the hood of the vehicle to check all the fluid levels. Make sure you have adequate amounts of power steering fluid, oil, coolant and windshield wiper fluid. While you are under the hood, perform a visual inspection of the drive belts, radiator, hoses and frame rails.

Enter the driving compartment and make sure there is a seatbelt, the mirrors are properly aligned, the windshield wipers work and the horn and lights of the vehicle are functioning normally. Turn on the defroster to make sure it works and check the dash for any warning lights. Check to make sure the accelerator does not stick. Check the steering wheel to see if it has excessive play.

Complete a walk-around of the vehicle. During the walk-around you must check the front of the vehicle including the grill and license plate. You must also inspect each of the vehicle’s lights to make sure they are in working order. Also, check other components such as the tires, frame rails and cross members, exhaust system, and the rear tailgate doors.

Check the vehicle’s emergency kit to make sure you have a first aid kit, flares and a fire extinguisher.

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