Every vehicle driver should know how to conduct a pre-trip vehicle inspection. However, many don’t take the time to go through this inspection every time they hit the road. It’s critical to go through this process to make sure everything is operating properly. Failure to do so can result in consequences that can cost money and take you off the road, or worse. Here are five reasons why it’s important for you to perform your pre-trip vehicle inspection.

It keeps you safe

The most important reason to perform a pre-trip inspection is for your safety. It can be dangerous to go out on the road with a load that is not secured, brakes that are damaged, wiring that is not connected, etc. Taking the 30 minutes to ensure that everything on your vehicle is working properly is worth it if it means you don’t hurt yourself or somebody else.

Don’t get in a habit of skipping a pre-trip inspection because you’ve never had anything go wrong before. It is important to understand that every time you hit the road without checking your vehicle, there is a chance you’re putting yourself or someone else in danger.

It’s the law

As a driver, you’re required to ensure your vehicle is safe to operate and free from defects. Legally, you need to do this by indicating that you performed a pre-trip vehicle inspection while “on-duty not driving” duty status. If you do find an issue, you will need to complete a driver vehicle inspection report to avoid violations during an audit. It’s better to catch an issue before a DOT officer does. This will help avoid a violation and a decrease in your CSA score. Depending on the case, the DOT officer could issue a fine.

It keeps you on the road

There are a few ways that not doing a pre-trip inspection can keep you off the road. First, if the DOT catches something wrong with your vehicle, they can give you a violation and put your vehicle out of service until the issue is fixed.

Likewise, if you don’t become aware of a minor problem for a long time, it can eventually become a major problem. It’s better to catch something minor early so that it can be fixed quickly.

Lastly, having something wrong with your vehicle can lead to an accident that causes damage to your vehicle and injuries to yourself or others. If an accident happens, it can keep you off the road for an extended period of time which further hurts your bottom line.

It saves you money

As mentioned earlier, doing your pre-trip inspection can help you catch a minor problem before it becomes something more serious. Chances are, a minor problem will cost less money and fixing it as soon as it pops up will get you back on the road quicker. This way you avoid losing money for the repair and losing money while you wait for your vehicle to get fixed.

Also, it is better to catch an issue prior to hitting the road so that you can get it fixed at the shop rather than on the side of the road. Roadside repairs typically cost three to five times more than repairs in the shop. This will also save you from having to pay for a tow vehicle to help you get to a shop.

It reduces liability

It is important to keep in mind that your vehicle can be involved in an accident that causes serious damage and injuries. Even if it isn’t your fault, it is possible for you to be found liable for an accident if there is no proof that a pre-trip inspection was done properly. This is a big reason why it’s so important to perform your pre-trip inspection and keep track of whether or not you found an issue that needed fixing. If you find an issue and get it fixed, make sure you keep track of when and where the repair happened. It’s possible, and highly likely, for a lawyer to find you liable for an accident if there is an issue with your vehicle that could have been prevented by proper pre-trip inspection.

How to perform a pre-trip vehicle inspection

Here is a summary of what you need to look at when performing a pre-trip vehicle inspection. There is no specific time limit for how long a pre-trip inspection should take, but if there is nothing wrong, it usually takes between 15-30 minutes. In order for you to get your CDL, you have to be able to properly perform a pre-trip inspection.

Engine and front of the vehicle

You should take a look at all of the components under the hood including the critical fluids. These include power steering, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and engine oil. You also need to check the water pump, alternator, and the air compressor. Lastly, make sure you review the suspension, brakes, and tires.

vehicle side and rear

When checking the sides and rear of the vehicle, make sure you take a look at the air hoses, exhaust, and the catwalk. Also, make sure you review the drive axle, including the tires, brakes, and suspension.

Coupling Device

Make sure you specifically check the fifth wheel and kingpin. The tractor portions will include the skid plate, slide locking pin, and the pivot pin and release arm. You also need to check the trailer portion which includes the apron, the bottom of the trailer, and the kingpin

Cab check and engine start

The cab check should begin with you checking your seatbelt, the shifting distance, room for the clutch, and that the parking brake is on. Once you turn the vehicle on, check the windshield wipers, the gauges, the heat and defrost, and the vehicle lights. This is also the time to build air pressure for the airbrakes for the brake check.

Brake check

Drivers must ensure that all aspects of the brake system are in proper order. This includes the air brakes, parking brakes, and hydraulic brakes.

Safety equipment check

Lastly, you must confirm the cab includes a fire extinguisher, three safety triangles, and electrical fuses.


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