January 30, 2024

The Ultimate Trucking Pre-Trip Checklist

It goes without saying—you want your trips to be as smooth as possible without any problems before, during and after. One of the best ways to help ensure trucking safety is with preventative maintenance. That starts with a pre-trip inspection. But what does a comprehensive inspection consist of? Here’s what your pre-trip checklist should contain:

  1. Tires—give your wheels a good once-over. Low pressure can negatively impact the distance needed to stop and miles per gallon. Consider carefully checking underneath the truck for items lodged underneath the vehicle that could get stuck in the tires. Also, check that the lug nuts are tightly fastened and have no signs of rust.
  2. Lights and reflectors—are the exterior lights, turn signals, warning lights and lenses clean?
  3. Brakes inside and outside the cab—check for proper brake adjustment with the slack adjuster and if brake linings have the appropriate thickness.
  4. Engine—check everything from the engine to the radiator, air compressor, steering gearbox, water pump, belts, hoses and wiring
  5. Fluids—check levels and look for signs of leaks, including fuel, oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid.
  6. Windshield—check for cracks or deteriorated glass.
  7. Fuel tank and battery—are there any cracks or leaks? Are the battery levels sufficient? Is it charging correctly?
  8. Mirrors—are the swivel mounts loose, frozen, or easily adjusted?
  9. Check the seat belts for wear and tear inside the cab and ensure a snug fit. Also check the steering wheel, pedals, wipers, horns, lights, gauges, and all alerting systems and ABS lights. How do the gears look?
  10. Trailer—check for mechanical defects that might hinder your ability to mount it to the tractor. Also check and test any wiring connecting the truck to the trailer for brake and light function.
  11. Back of the truck—are the tires adequately inflated with decent tread? Be sure you’re familiar with commercial truck tire tread regulations: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires a depth of 4/32 of an inch for every major groove; The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance requires 2/32 of an inch in two adjacent grooves.
  12. Are the brake chambers undamaged? Are shocks and airbags intact?

Lastly, you must have an emergency kit. As you know, an emergency kit is a legal requirement that can save lives. Check for a fire extinguisher (make sure it works!), warning hazard triangles, and spare circuit breakers and fuses. At CRST, you must do pre-check inspections as a routine part of your truck driving life, so keep your pre-trip checklist handy. For additional ways to help ensure road safety, check out our blog “Vehicle Inspection: Brakes, Lighting, Cargo—Check!