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Pre-Trip Truck Inspection Checklist

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Updated September 13th, 2020

A properly completed pre-trip inspection is not only required by law it can also help prevent tickets, 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

*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


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 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 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 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;

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

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.

Greg Fowler

Greg Fowler

Managing Member of AutoInsureSavings LLC, Greg has been in the insurance industry for 12 years and enjoys rebuilding vehicles. His goal is to help drivers save on anything related to automobiles. Travel and enjoying the outdoors are some of his hobbies. The best way to reach him is at his Twitter or Facebook Profile.

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