Sometimes truckers rush through a thorough pre-trip inspection because they are pressed for time. These routine tasks frequently lose importance over time, perhaps just as a result of human nature, especially if nothing is discovered to be problematic after weeks, months, or even longer of conducting the inspection and providing the report.
You might have created your own pre-trip inspection if you have been driving professionally since graduating from truck driving school. Get back into the habit of performing an extensive pre-trip inspection, especially if you are a professional driver. A thorough pre-trip inspection on your own rig can help you identify potential mechanical issues that you can then put on your list of things to have looked at right away or, depending on what you find, when you get back. Of course, performing a pre-trip inspection is important for safety reasons on any truck, regardless of the owner. Furthermore, if there is ever an accident and a lawsuit, it can be crucial evidence of your truck’s safety on the road.
Making sure you examine the truck in more depth than just its visible problems is crucial. Your pre-trip inspection should be conducted in a methodical manner, which is also crucial. You probably have a helpful checklist from your trucking school classes; it is a good idea to photocopy or print out a lot of them and keep them in the cab of your truck for easy access. If you actually have a paper or a guide in front of you, it is less likely that you will make a mistake, forget a system, or simply get called away and think you finished the task before returning.
If at all possible, park your truck the night before on a level, paved area. This enables you to perform the pre-trip inspection while the truck sits overnight in the same location, making it simpler to find oil or fluid leaks on the ground. To determine whether the truck appears to be sitting level or if it is tilting or toppling, look at it from the front, back, and sides. Any slanting or tipping of the trailer or cab should be noted, and the problem should then be identified by performing a more thorough inspection of the tires, frame, and suspension. Verify that nothing is protruding or that neither the truck’s tires nor any other visible area of the vehicle exhibit any signs of damage.
Additionally, you must have assistance from another person to check the lights. You can see that they are working if they simply sit in the cab and turn the various lights on and off. Verify the functionality of all the major lights and reflectors, including the clearance lights, headlights (high and low), turn signals on the truck and trailer, flashers, brakes, and tailgate lights.
Always take a logical approach to the problem and make sure you don’t miss anything by working your way back from the cab to the end of the trailer.
While the engine is off, it should be visually inspected for leaks and the health of the belts and hoses. Verify the levels of all additional fluids, such as coolant, power steering, and windshield washer fluid, as well as any wiring problems.
As soon as the engine is running, climb inside the cab and make sure the lights, clutch, and all gauges are in working order. Adjust all mirrors, check the brake, clutch, and accelerator for sticking, and make sure the wipers, horn, and steering are all in working order. Additionally, make sure to check the parking brake and, if available, the air brake.
Even if it’s your own truck and you drive it every day, it’s important to inspect all of the vehicle’s visible parts. This enables you to visually inspect the steering system, the front and rear suspension, the front and rear brakes, the tires and wheels on all axles, as well as the vehicle coupling system between the cab and the trailer. When inspecting tires, look for signs of wear and damage. Also, take the time to check each tire’s valve steps, caps, and tire pressure. Verify that all of the mud flaps are securely fastened and are not dangling or about to fly off.
The landing gear, doors, electrical parts, and air connections, among other elements, should all be inspected, as should every other part of the trailer.
While inspecting the cab and the trailer, keep an eye out for anything that needs to be tightened, seems to be loose, has wear or rub marks, or is missing parts. When you’ve finished with the inspection, go back and look at any trouble spots. If they need to be fixed before you drive, call the relevant supervisor or get your mechanic on the phone. Driving a truck you are aware of has a mechanical issue or any other kind of irregularity or system problem is the biggest safety, legal, and liability mistake you can make.
Keep in mind that a comprehensive pre-trip inspection, which is required by law and must be documented in your log book, typically takes between 30 and 40 minutes to complete. There might be additional pre-trip inspection requirements if you are hauling a particular type of trailer or cargo, though.
Pre-trip inspections involve more than just going through the motions; they also involve ensuring that the car is secure enough to be driven on the road. If the inspection was carried out, reported, and recorded and the truck was found to be safe to be on the road, it also goes a long way toward limiting your liability if an accident does occur.