Want to ensure your next trip is a safe one? Then do a pre-trip inspection! Assessing your truck before each road trip allows you to determine the condition of your truck and trailer, if it is up to safety standards, and whether it has any issues that could affect its operation. Failure to properly perform a pre-trip inspection could mean the difference between receiving a ticket — if your truck and trailer is found to be unsafe — getting in an accident, or arriving to your destination safely.
 
So each time you head out on a long haul, do a general walk around and inspection of your truck and trailer. Before beginning your pre-trip inspection, make sure to chock the wheels to keep the vehicle from moving, especially during times when you need to leave the engine running. Also, make sure you have the necessary paperwork for your truck, including an up-to-date trip log.
 
The following are a few helpful tips on what to look for when performing your pre-trip inspection.
 
1. Check Inside and Outside the Truck

To begin your pre-trip inspection, start by checking both the outside and inside of the truck. On the outside, make sure all lights, tires, and mud flaps are in good condition. When moving to the inside of the cab, check for cleanliness. In addition to being a nuisance, junk in the floorboard of the cab presents a danger while you drive, as it can get lodged underneath the pedals. And if you have an accident, those same objects can become deadly projectiles.
 
Remember to keep a fully stocked emergency kit in your truck. The kit should include a fire extinguisher, spare fuses, road flares, and reflective warning hazard triangles. And before leaving on a trip, it is important to make sure that your fire extinguisher is up to date and properly secured.


 
2. Check Under the Hood

When checking under the hood, make sure all fluids are at the proper levels. What other checks should you perform during your inspection under the hood? For one, in addition to fluid levels, look to see if anything is leaking. If it is, have the leak fixed as soon as possible.
 
Also make sure all of the caps and covers are tight and there is no excessive wear, fraying, or cracking of the engine hoses. You should also visually inspect the ball joints and other suspension components to determine if they are in good condition.
 
3. Check the Trailer

Most often, truckers haul different trailers on any given trip. That is why it is extremely important to fully inspect the trailer you are pulling before you head out on the road. When checking the tires, pay particular attention to the lug nuts, as this is the leading cause of wheel separation.
 
Also inspect the brake lights, running lights, and turn signals. Another important area to check are the reflectors, as these help other drivers see your truck while driving in low-light conditions.
 
Remember, when performing your pre-trip inspection, take your time and do the job right. This can save you the headache of and possible injury from an accident later on.

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Cheryl Knight

With more than 20 years of writing and editing experience, Cheryl has covered topics ranging from advanced engineering technology to automotive fleet management. She has written and edited for niche-market and research publications, including Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, and Engineering and Technology magazines.

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