Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 24, 2022

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A properly completed pre-trip inspection for your truck is not only required by law, it can also help prevent tickets. This will save you and your company time and money, and ensure public safety.

Before setting off, always make sure your truck and trailer are in good repair and functioning as intended.

Be alert, awake, attentive, and prepared as you check each part of your truck.

Review the pre/post trip book located in the truck’s cab to familiarize yourself with any previous or ongoing concerns and then begin your inspection.

It is a good idea to follow the same order each time to ensure that nothing is overlooked or forgotten.

Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist & Quick Guide

Be sure to turn the engine off, disengage the brake, and use chocks to prevent your vehicle from moving while you perform this inspection.

Inspection List
Documentation and Stickers
Cab Inspection
Air Tanks
Spare Parts
Trailer and Connections
Fifth Wheel
Inner Cab Inspection
Flags and Signs
Equipment Inspection
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*No particular order

Video “How to perform a Class A CDL Pre-Trip inspection”

Documentation and Stickers

Your truck will require a variety of documentation, stickers, and licenses depending on your area. These will include:

1.  Valid license plate;

2.   Maximum loaded weight of the complete unit or Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW); and

3.   Truck/Tractor weight only (TARE weight).

Cab Inspection

1.  Check the mirrors for tightness and proper alignment;
2.  Ensure wipers are properly installed with spring attached and rubber that is in good condition;
3.  Inspect the windshield for cracks or chips;
4. Check that door handles and latches are secure; and
5.  Note all problems or repairs.

Check each component of the engine by touching, pulling, twisting, and tugging where applicable to ensure each piece is properly attached. This should include checking the:

1.  Steering column;

2.  Tie rods;

3.  Shocks;

4.  Leaf springs;

5.  Wiring harness

6.  Check for cracks in the frame or inside of the hood;

7.  Clean or replace the air filter;

8.  Brake pad and hoses;

9.  Engine mount bolts;

10.  Fan; and

11.  Fan belt.

It is also important to check and top up all fluids. Be sure to note any leaks as you top them up.

1.  Oil;

2.  Steering fluids;

3.  Coolant; and

4.  Washer Fluid.

Cab Inspection Quick Guide

Check MirrorsWiring Harness
Check WipersCheck for Cracks in Frame or Hood
Inspect WindshieldAir Filter
Check Door Handles and LatchesBrake Pad & Hoses
Steering ColumnEngine Mount Bolts
Tie RodsFan
ShocksFan Belts
Leaf SpringsOil
Steering FluidsCoolant & Washer Fluid
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The pattern of wear on the tires will let you know if they are over- or under-inflated. Check the tread depth for even wear: if the tires have more wear on the center they are over-inflated, if there is more wear along the outer edges, they are under-inflated.

1.  Check tire pressure;

2.  Inboard/outboard sidewells;

3.  Rims both inside and out;

4.  Hub oil;

5.  Lug nuts (rust around a lug nut may indicate that it is loose and needs to be tightened); and

6.  Check for stuck rocks or mud between dual tires.


1.  Ensure vehicle displays required fuel stickers;

2.  Check fuel and fluid levels visually; and

3.  Check strapping.

Air Tanks

1.  Drain air tanks daily to ensure no water is present inside the hoses. Liquids trapped in an air brake system can rot the lines from the inside out and cause deadly malfunctions.

Spare Parts

Always ensure your vehicle is well stocked with necessary spare parts including:

1.  Bulbs/lights;

2.  Fuses;

3.  Open-ended wrenches;

4.  Tape; and

5.  Air brake parts such as brake drums, fittings and airbrake antifreeze.

Trailer and Connections

1.  Check the trailer and truck frame for cracks, missing bolts, loose supports, rust, or other signs of failing structural integrity;

2.  Secure hanging objects and landing gear;

3.  Check lights;

4.  Check reflectors;

5.  Check reflective tape;

6.  Ensure license plate is clean and legible;

7.  Check license plate light;

8.  Check that connections are secure;

9.  Ensure the electrical connection is tight and clean;

10.  Check tongue for loose wires or hoses;

11.  Check tongue for cracks;

12.  Ensure all required documentation including registration and permits are properly stored;

13.  Check connections for signs of excess wear; and

14.  Ensure the glad hands are tight and clean.


1.  Ensure that the load is secure and there are no loose objects;

2.  Check cargo containment to ensure lack of spills, falling, dislodging, or shifting during travel; and

3.  Recheck cargo while en route to ensure it is not shifting.

Fifth Wheel

1.  Before each trip ensure the fifth wheel is greased;

2.   Free of cracks or missing bolts;

3.   Tight and secure; and

4.   You have visually checked that the jaws are closed.

Inner Cab Inspection

To facilitate cab inspection, be sure to keep the area clean and free of garbage or loose objects. The following items should be available at all times within the cab:

1.    Complete first aid kit;

2.    Emergency triangles and flares;

3.    Clearly marked fire extinguisher;

4.    Spare bulb kit; and

5.    Any required license and supporting documents.

Be sure to check all permits and licences for proper dates and accuracy of information and ensure the proper functionality of:

1.    Seats and seatbelts;

2.    Wipers;

3.    Horns (both air and electric);

4.    Free-clutch movement;

5.    Gauges;

6.    Steering; and

7.    Running lights.


Your commercial motor vehicle is legally required to have operational signal lights at all times during operation. To prevent tickets or delays, check each light before setting out.

1.    Head lamps;

2.    Running lamps;

3.    Signal lamps;

4.    Clearance marker lamps;

5.    Back-up lamps (brake lights);

6.    Hi-low beam indicator;

7.    Other dash indicators; and

8.    All reflectors.


1.    Brakes must be tested on a daily basis using the Canadian Brake Test Procedure and the results noted.

Flags and Signs

1.    Ensure all necessary flags are in place, clean, and legible.

Equipment Inspection

Drivers should also check their winch and equipment for any issues before use. Look for:

1.    Line or sling in good condition;

2.    No fraying or slippage;

3.    Snatch block in good condition; and

4.    Load pins should not be bent and must be the right length for the load.

Commonly Overlooked Items on a Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist

Commonly Overlooked Items on Checklist
Chock Your Wheels
Emergency Kit
Wheel Lug Nuts
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Source BigRoad Blog

Finally, check around the vehicle for dark soot on pipes at the joints as this can indicate exhaust leaks.

Once you have complete your trip, it is highly recommended to repeat this procedure.

The more frequently you inspect your truck, the more likely you are to find problems before they become serious.

If you are not so sure about the operations and maintenance, better to seek help from some reputed truck repair service firm near your location.

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