Fleet maintenance software is essential for today’s trucking owners and operators. It helps you keep your rig in top shape at all times, saving you both costly fines and big repair bills. While we’re on the subject of “costly fines,” though, let’s talk a bit about what parts of a commercial vehicle should be inspected prior to a run. These are things an inspector might look for if you are stopped, so you should look them over yourself beforehand. This is a partial list, intended to provide an overview; a full checklist can be found here.
Front of Vehicle
- Lights and reflectors – make sure they’re in good working order.
- Mirrors should be clear and adjusted as needed.
- Oil level – in addition to checking the level, look for signs of water, bubbles, or other impurities.
- Coolant level – should meet manufacturer’s recommendations. Also check the coolant for contaminants or discolorations.
- Power steering fluid – check level and condition.
- Water pump – make sure all bolts are tight and hoses show no signs of cracks or other damage.
- Alternator – Bolts should be tight and belts in good shape.
- Inspect linkage, hoses, and steering box.
- Check tires for proper inflation, as well as any signs of damage or unusual wear patterns.
- Inspect rims, hub oil seals, and lug nuts. Make sure everything is tight and in good shape.
- Examine shocks, springs, spring mounts, and u-bolts.
- Inspect brake lines and/or hoses for cracks, loose fittings, or other danger signs.
Under the Vehicle
- Give the drive shaft, frame, and exhaust system a close visual inspection. Any cracked or hanging components should be tended to immediately.
- Examine the tires, lug nuts, rims, spacers, and hub oil seals.
Rear of Vehicle
- Lights, reflectors, and splashguards should all be in good working order.
Front of Trailer
- Check the header board/bulkhead, reflectors, and lights.
Side of Trailer
- Inspect the landing gear, reflectors, lights, doors, ties, lifts, frame, and frame and tandem release.
- Check tires, lug nuts, rims, spacers, and hub oil seals.
Tractor Coupling System
Inspect the following components:
- Mounting bolts
- Release arm and safety latch
- Lever/locking arms
- 5th wheel skid plate
Trailer Coupling System
- Check the drawbar or tongue, safety devices, mounting bolts, and sliding pintle.
The DOT uses these numbers to identify specific commercial vehicles and gather information for inspections and audits. There are no rules specifying where these numbers must be placed, but the usual locations are either on the cab or the doors. The numbers should stand out against the truck’s background color. Black numbers, for example, will show up well against a white background. The numbers should be large enough to be read without difficulty from a distance of 50 feet.
What Commercial Vehicle Inspectors (CVIs) Look For
Aside from making sure that tractor-trailers are within weight limits, state troopers and DOT officials typically check for the following things:
- Worn or damaged tires
- Cracked, oil-soaked, or excessively worn brake linings
- Cracked frames
- Fuel leaks
These officials will also always check to make sure you have a current CDL. It’s amazing to think that drivers would try to get by without a valid license, but some do make the attempt—don’t be one of them!
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