Pre-Trip Inspection for Tow Trucks: Ensuring Safety on the Road

Tow trucks are vital vehicles in the transport industry, and as with any other vehicle, it’s important to perform regular pre-trip inspections to ensure they’re safe to operate. A pre-trip inspection is a thorough check of the vehicle’s components and systems, and it’s required by law in many countries.

Why Pre-Trip Inspections Are Important

Performing a pre-trip inspection is crucial to ensure the safety of the driver, the passengers, and other road users. Tow trucks often carry heavy loads, and any malfunction or failure of the vehicle’s components can lead to a serious accident. Regular inspections can also help prevent breakdowns and costly repairs, which can impact the productivity of the tow truck company.

What to Inspect During a Pre-Trip Inspection for Tow Trucks 

A pre-trip inspection for a tow truck should include the following:

Exterior Inspection

  1. Body and Structures: Look for any loose panels, damaged bumpers, or other visible defects that could affect safety.
  2. Tires and Wheels: Inspect the tires for proper inflation, damage, and wear. Check that the lug nuts are tightened according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  3. Suspension: Inspect the shock absorbers, springs, and other suspension components for damage or wear.
  4. 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.
  5. Lights and Signals: Check that all lights and signals are working correctly, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights.
  6. Flashing Lights: Test the flashing lights, such as the strobe or beacon lights, to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  7. Emergency Equipment: Verify that all emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers, warning triangles, cones, flares, flashlights, communication and first aid kits, are present and in good condition.
  8. Coupling Devices: Check that the coupling devices, such as the hitch and safety chains, are in good condition and properly attached.
  9. Load: Check the vehicle to ensure all items are securely loaded and not at risk of falling off the vehicle.
  10. Truck Data Plate: Attached to the vehicle.
  11. Boom or Bed Data Plate: Attached to boom or bed.
  12. Wheel Lift Data Plate: Attached to wheel lift, boom, or bed.

Interior Inspection

  1. Horn: Check that the horn is working properly and is loud enough to be heard from a safe distance.
  2. Steering: Check the steering system for looseness, wear, and proper alignment.
  3. Seatbelts: Check that they are in good working order. Look for damage or wear.
  4. Windscreen Wipers and Washers: Inspect the windscreen wipers for any damage or wear, and ensure that they are functioning correctly.
  5. Warning Lights: Inspect the dashboard for any warning lights or indications of mechanical issues.
  6. Service Brakes: Test the brakes for responsiveness and ensure that the brake pads and rotors are in good condition.
  7. Park Brake: Test that the parking brake holds the vehicle.

Engine Bay Inspections

  1. Fluids: Check all fluid levels, including oil, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Look for leaks or signs of damage.
  2. Electrical System: Test the battery and charging system, including the alternator and starter motor. Check for battery security.
  3. Fuel System: Check for leaks or damage to the fuel lines, fuel tank, and fuel pump. Ensure that the fuel cap is secure and free of damage.
  4. Exhaust System: Check for leaks or damage. Ensure all components are securely attached to the vehicle and are serviceable.
  5. Belts and Hoses: Check the condition of the belts and hoses. Check for damage and wear.

Mounted Equipment 

  1. Boom, Winch and Other Equipment: Check the condition of the boom, winch, and any other lifting or towing equipment mounted on the truck.
  2. Hydraulics, Electrical Cables and Control Cables: Verify that all hydraulic hoses, electrical cables, and control cables are properly connected and not worn or damaged.
  3. Test Operation: Test the operation of the equipment to ensure that it is working correctly and smoothly.

Towing Accessories Inspection

  1. Chains, Hooks and Straps: Inspect the condition of any towing accessories, such as chains, hooks, or straps.
  2. Verify that the towing accessories are rated for the weight of the vehicles being towed.
  3. Magnetic Towing Lights: Check that they are working correctly and there is no damage.
  4. Scoop Shovel: Check availability and condition.
  5. Broom: Check availability and condition.
  6. Oil Absorbent: Check availability and amount.
  7. Debris Container: Check availability and condition.
  8. Chock Blocks: Check availability and condition.

Below: Digital Pre-Trip Inspection for a Tow Truck by DIGI CLIP mobile forms

Pre-trip inspection for tow trucks

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

How Digital Checklists Can Help

Performing a pre-trip inspection can be time-consuming, especially if the driver is using a paper-based checklist. Digital checklists, however, can streamline the process and make it more efficient. By using a mobile app, the driver can quickly complete the inspection and record any defects or issues. The app can also provide real-time notifications to the mechanic or the tow truck company, allowing them to take immediate action if necessary.

Digital checklists can also help ensure consistency and standardisation across different drivers and vehicles. The app can include detailed instructions and images for each item on the checklist, reducing the risk of human error or oversight.

In addition, digital checklists can help with record-keeping and compliance. The app can automatically generate reports and logs, which can be stored securely and accessed easily in case of an audit or inspection.

Documenting and Record-Keeping

Documenting and record-keeping are crucial aspects of the pre-trip inspection process for tow trucks. It’s important to keep detailed records of all inspections, repairs, and maintenance performed on the vehicle, as these records can serve as proof of compliance with safety regulations and can also be used to identify patterns or trends in vehicle defects or malfunctions. Digital checklists and mobile apps can make record-keeping easier and more efficient, allowing drivers to quickly and easily document any defects or issues and notify the tow truck company or mechanic in real time. Additionally, it’s important to keep records of any training or certification obtained by the driver, as well as records of any incidents or accidents involving the tow truck. These records can be invaluable in case of an investigation or legal action. By maintaining detailed records and documentation, tow truck companies can demonstrate their commitment to safety and compliance, which can help them avoid fines, penalties, and reputational damage.


Pre-trip inspections for tow trucks are essential to ensure the safety of the driver, passengers, and other road users. These inspections should cover all major components and systems of the vehicle, including tires and wheels, brakes, suspension, steering, lights and signals, fluids, seatbelts, electrical system, fuel system, exhaust system, emergency equipment, coupling devices, mounted equipment, and towing accessories.

Digital checklists can help streamline the inspection process, improve consistency and standardisation, and facilitate record-keeping and compliance. By performing regular pre-trip inspections and using digital checklists, tow truck companies can help prevent accidents, breakdowns, and costly repairs, and ensure they comply with the relevant laws and regulations.

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.

Streamline your safety, compliance & inspection checks with the DIGI CLIP mobile checklist app today.

checklist and inspections app - DIGI CLIP mobile forms

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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.