How to Perform a Pre-trip Inspection on a Truck: The Importance of Safety

Performing a pre-trip inspection on a truck is an important aspect of ensuring that the vehicle is safe to drive. A pre-trip inspection involves checking various parts and components of the truck before embarking on a trip. By doing so, drivers can identify any potential problems before they become serious issues, which could cause an accident or lead to breakdowns.

Why it is Important to Conduct a Through Pre-Trip Inspection

Before we dive into the specifics of how to perform a pre-trip inspection on a truck, let’s discuss why it’s important. Safety is the top priority for any driver and ensuring that your truck is in good condition is crucial for preventing accidents and breakdowns.

A pre-trip inspection can help identify any potential problems with the truck before you hit the road. By addressing these issues early on, you can prevent them from becoming bigger problems down the line. It can also help you avoid costly repairs and downtime, which can impact your bottom line as a truck driver.

When to Conduct a Pre-Trip Inspection on a Truck

Drivers should conduct a pre-trip inspection every time they use the truck, whether it’s for a short or long trip. Here are some guidelines for when to conduct a pre-trip inspection:

1. At the Beginning of Each Shift: A pre-trip inspection should be conducted at the beginning of each shift, regardless of how often you use the vehicle. This helps ensure that the truck is in good condition and safe to drive.

2. Before Each Trip: Before embarking on a trip, drivers should conduct a pre-trip inspection to check for any potential issues that could impact safety on the road. Even if you drove the truck recently, conducting a pre-trip inspection before every trip is essential.

3. After Maintenance or Repair Work: After any maintenance or repair work, drivers should conduct a pre-trip inspection to ensure that the work was done correctly and that all parts and components are functioning correctly.

4. After Long Periods of Inactivity: If the truck has been sitting idle for an extended period, it’s essential to conduct a pre-trip inspection before using it. This helps ensure that the vehicle is in good condition and ready for the road.

Where to Conduct a Pre-Trip Inspection on a Truck

When conducting a pre-trip inspection, it’s important to choose a location that provides a safe and accessible area to inspect the vehicle. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a location:

1. Level Ground: It’s essential to choose a level ground when conducting a pre-trip inspection. This helps ensure that the truck is stable and stationary during the inspection process, making it easier to check the various parts and components.

2. Well-Lit Area: Choosing a well-lit area is also essential to ensure that you can see all parts of the vehicle clearly. A well-lit area makes it easier to identify any potential issues, such as damage, wear, or leaks.

3. Space to Move Around: When inspecting the vehicle, you need to move around it to check all parts and components. Choosing a location with sufficient space to move around the vehicle is crucial. This makes it easier to inspect all parts of the truck thoroughly.

4. Safe Location: Choosing a safe location is also important. Avoid conducting a pre-trip inspection on a busy road or in an area with high traffic. Instead, choose a location that provides a safe and secure environment to inspect the vehicle.

Tips for Conducting a Thorough Pre-trip Inspection on a Truck

Performing a pre-trip inspection is essential, but it’s also crucial to conduct a thorough inspection. Here are some tips to ensure that your inspection is comprehensive:

1. Use a Checklist: Creating a checklist ensures that you inspect every part of the truck thoroughly. This also helps ensure consistency in the inspection process, which is particularly helpful if multiple drivers use the same vehicle.

2. Follow a Systematic Approach: When conducting the inspection, follow a systematic approach to ensure you don’t miss anything. Start from the front of the truck and work your way back, inspecting each area in turn.

3. Use All Your Senses: During the inspection, use all your senses to identify any potential issues. Look for damage or wear, listen for any unusual noises, and smell for any unusual odours, such as burning oil or gas.

4. Don’t Rush: Take your time during the inspection, and don’t rush through it. Rushing can cause you to miss potential issues that could impact safety and lead to costly repairs down the line.

5. Document Your Findings: Documenting any issues found during the inspection is essential. This helps ensure that the issues are addressed promptly and can also help identify any recurring problems that need to be addressed.

Below: Digital Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist by DIGI CLIP mobile forms

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DIGI CLIP mobile forms provide digital safety, compliance & inspections checklists

Required Components to Check During Pre-Trip Inspection on a Truck

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state agencies have specific regulations regarding the components that drivers must check during a pre-trip inspection. These components include:

1. Body and Structures: Check for any loose panels, damaged bumpers, or other visible defects that could affect safety.

2. Brakes: Drivers must check the brakes during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are working correctly. They should check the brake pedal, air pressure, brake lines, hoses, and drums or discs for wear and damage.

3. Tires: Drivers must check the tires during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are in good condition and correctly inflated. They should check for punctures, cuts, and other damage, as well as the tread depth and wear patterns.

4. Lights: Drivers must check the lights during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are working correctly. They should check the headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights.

5. Horn: Drivers must check the horn during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that it is working correctly.

6. Steering: Drivers must check the steering during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that it is working correctly. They should check the steering wheel, steering column, and steering linkage for damage or wear.

7. Windshield Wipers: The driver must check the windshield wipers and washers to ensure that they are in good working condition.

8. Mirrors: Drivers must check the mirrors during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are correctly adjusted and secure.

9. Coupling Devices: Drivers must check the coupling devices during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are secure and in good condition.

10. Emergency Equipment: Drivers must check the emergency equipment during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that it is present and in good condition. This includes items such as spare fuses, triangles, and fire extinguishers.

11. Brake Check: The driver must perform a brake check to ensure that the brakes are functioning properly.

Additional Items to Check During Pre-Trip Inspection on a Truck

1. Exhaust and Fuel Systems: Drivers must check the exhaust and fuel systems during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are functioning correctly. They should check the exhaust system for leaks, damage, and proper mounting, and check the fuel system for leaks, damage, and proper connections.

2. Battery and electrical system: Check the battery terminals for any signs of corrosion and ensure that the battery is securely fastened in its bracket. Check the wiring for damage or loose connections.

3. Wheels and Wheel Lug Nuts: Drivers must check the wheels and wheel lug nuts during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that they are in good condition and properly secured. They should check the wheels for cracks, rust, or other damage, and check the lug nuts to ensure that they are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.

4. Suspension: Drivers must check the suspension during a pre-trip inspection to ensure that it is in good condition and functioning correctly. They should check the springs, shock absorbers, and other components for wear, damage, or leaks.

5. Driveline/Driveshaft: Visually inspect the drive shaft for any signs of damage or wear, including dents, cracks, or missing components. Also, check for any loose or missing bolts or other fasteners that secure the drive shaft to the transmission and rear axle.

6. Tug Test: Drivers must ensure the trailer is securely attached to the truck by performing a tug test. A tug test is a method used by truck drivers to ensure that the trailer brakes are functioning correctly, and the trailer is securely attached to the truck. It involves applying the trailer brakes and moving the truck forward slowly and pulling against the trailer brakes.

Adopt a Systematic Approach When Conducting a Pre-Trip Inspection  

The order in which a driver performs a pre-trip safety inspection can vary depending on their personal preference and the specific requirements of their company or organization. However, here is a suggested order for performing a pre-trip safety inspection:

1. Start with the truck’s exterior. This includes checking the tires, wheels, brakes, lights, exhaust and other important safety features.

2. Move on to the trailer, if applicable. Check the trailer’s tires, wheels, brakes, lights, other safety features and cargo. Also, perform a tug test to ensure that the trailer is properly connected to the truck.

3. Check the hitch/coupling device to ensure that it is secure and functioning correctly.

4. Check the truck’s engine compartment, including the oil, fluids, belts, hoses, and other components.

5. Perform in-cab checks, including checking the seatbelts, gauges and instruments, mirrors, horn, windshield wipers and washers, and emergency equipment.

6. Finally, perform a brake test to ensure that the brake system is functioning correctly.

Some drivers may prefer to perform the brake test and tug test at the end of the sequence as a final check to ensure that the trailer is securely attached, and the brake system is functioning correctly.

By following logical and consistent order, drivers can ensure that they cover all the important safety features and equipment logically and efficiently. However, it is important to note that the order can be adjusted as needed based on the driver’s personal preference and the specific requirements of their company or organization. The key is to perform a thorough pre-trip safety inspection every time before starting a journey to ensure the safety of the driver, passengers, and other road users.

Tools Required for a Pre-Trip Inspection

Performing a pre-trip inspection requires specific tools to ensure that you can inspect all parts and components of the truck. Here are some essential tools you should have on hand:

1. Flashlight: A flashlight is essential for inspecting the truck’s underside and hard-to-reach areas, such as the engine compartment.

2. Tire Pressure Gauge: A tire pressure gauge is necessary to check the tire pressure accurately. Incorrect tire pressure can impact handling and fuel efficiency.

3. Coolant Tester: A coolant tester is used to check the condition of the coolant. Coolant is essential for regulating engine temperature, and the wrong type or condition can cause engine damage.

4. Brake Adjustment Tool: A brake adjustment tool is used to adjust the brakes on the trailer.

If there is a Fault, Defect or Deficiency

If you discover that the truck is unsafe during a pre-trip inspection, you should take immediate action to address the issue before starting your journey. Here are some steps that you can take if they discover that their truck is unsafe:

1. Report the Issue: Inform your supervisor, dispatcher, or maintenance department about the issue. This will help ensure that the necessary repairs are made promptly.

2. Stop using the Truck: If the issue is serious enough to pose an immediate safety risk, such as faulty brakes, it may be necessary to stop using the truck until the issue is resolved.

3. Address the Issue: Work with the maintenance department or a qualified mechanic to address the issue. This may involve repairing or replacing faulty equipment or systems.

4. Reinspect the Truck: Once the issue has been resolved, perform a follow-up pre-trip safety inspection to ensure that all equipment and systems are functioning correctly.

5. Document the Issue: Keep a record of the issue and the steps taken to address it. This can help to demonstrate a commitment to safety and compliance with regulations.

It is important for drivers to always prioritise safety and take immediate action if they discover any issues during a pre-trip safety inspection. By doing so, they can help to prevent accidents and promote safe driving practices.

Digital Truck Daily Pre-Start Checks

While conducting paper pre-trip inspections on a truck can be time-consuming and prone to human error, adopting digital checklists can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of pre-start inspections. Digital checklists are becoming increasingly popular in the transportation industry as they can streamline the inspection process.

Digital checklists allow drivers to conduct inspections quickly and easily on a mobile device or tablet. The checklists can be customised to include specific checks and procedures, and drivers can record their observations, attach photos and add a digital signature for accountability. Digital checklists also have the advantage of being submitted to a cloud-based software with a central database, providing real-time reporting and analysis of inspections.

Implementing digital checklists can improve the accuracy of inspections, reduce errors, and provide managers with real-time information on the status of their fleet. Digital checklists can also provide an audit trail of inspections, making it easier to demonstrate compliance with regulations in the event of an audit or investigation.


Performing a pre-trip inspection is an essential step in ensuring the safety of both the driver and other road users. In this article, we have discussed the importance of conducting a pre-trip inspection and the various components that need to be checked, such as the brakes, tires, lights, horn, steering, mirrors, coupling devices, emergency equipment, exhaust and fuel systems, wheels and wheel lug nuts, and suspension. By following the tips and using the tools provided, drivers can conduct a thorough inspection and identify potential problems before they turn into serious issues, ultimately preventing accidents and breakdowns. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when operating a commercial vehicle.

DIGI CLIP mobile forms – What Do We Do?

DIGI CLIP mobile forms is an easy-to-use inexpensive digital checklist & inspection app and cloud-based software. DIGI CLIP is used across different industries to capture safety and compliance data and other information to help improve safety, compliance and operational efficiencies.

DIGI CLIP will allow you to remove paper reporting from your business – no more lost, late missing or illegible checklists. The DIGI CLIP mobile app allows images, comments and digital signatures to be added to checklists from a phone or tablet.

DIGI CLIP has a Form Library where you can access all of your checklists, inspections and more ready for use. All checklists and inspections can be edited or updated to meet your risk and operational requirements.

DIGI CLIP also has a safety management module called Safety Tracker. Safety Tracker is our incident and hazard reporting and management software application that adds to DIGI CLIP mobile forms. Incidents and hazards are reported via the DIGI CLIP app or directly on the cloud-based software. Incident and quality Investigations and hazard assessments are completed on templates provided by DIGI CLIP and corrective and closeout actions are tracked by the cloud-based software.

Follow this link if you want to know more about what we do and how we can help or send us a message.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, or other professional advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in this article. Readers are advised to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any specific concerns or questions related to their business operations or compliance with relevant regulations.