« Trucking Hub

Pre-Trip Inspection Guide for Truck Drivers (+ Checklist)

Ensure a safe journey on the road with our comprehensive Pre-Trip Inspection Guide for Truck Drivers. Get expert tips and checklists for a thorough pre-trip inspection. Start your trip with confidence!

3 mins readJune 19, 2023

Trucking Insurance eBook

If you're a trucker, it's crucial to inspect your truck thoroughly before hitting the road. Don't worry, we've got you covered with this easy-to-follow guide! Discover expert tips and a handy checklist that will help you check everything from tires and brakes to lights and fluids.

Follow this guide to the letter and you'll catch potential problems before they cause trouble, ensuring a worry-free journey on the road.

Step 1: Inspect the engine compartment

The engine is the heart of your truck, so it deserves your utmost attention. Take your time during this step to ensure the proper functioning of your vehicle. Here are the key tasks to perform:

  1. Securely tighten all caps and covers.
  2. Thoroughly inspect the engine.
  3. Look for signs of wear, cracks, or fraying on the engine hoses.
  4. Check the steering axle tires.
  5. Examine the tires for uneven wear or any nails.
  6. Ensure that ball joints, shock absorbers, and kingpins are properly lubricated.
  7. Immediately address any leaks by identifying and fixing their source.
  8. Inspect the engine fan for missing pieces on the blades.
  9. Verify the windshield wiper fluid level.

During the under-the-hood inspection, be vigilant for any damage, cuts, bulges, or abrasions that require immediate attention. Additionally, ensure that all components are securely fastened and mounted.

Health and Safety for Truckers

Stay safe on and off the road with these simple tips and tricks used by truckers worldwide.

Step 2: Examination of Legs, Airbags, Wheels, and Cords

Now it's time to move outside the truck and inspect its external components. Pay close attention to the following:

  1. Check the tire pressure of both your truck and trailer, ensuring proper inflation.
  2. Assess the tread depth of the tires and consider replacements if needed.
  3. Inspect the wheels to prevent unintended movement during the inspection.
  4. Ensure the 5th wheel is correctly coupled to the trailer to avoid any incidents on the road.
  5. Verify the secure connection of air lines and electrical cords.
  6. Assess the landing gear, confirming that the legs are up and securely fastened with the crank handle.
  7. Check the airbags of your suspensions for proper inflation and examine the springs for any issues.
  8. Inspect the brake pads for sufficient thickness.
  9. Look for proper positioning of the brake adjustment indicators.
  10. Thoroughly examine the truck for any signs of damage.

Perform additional checks on the exhaust system, batteries, fuel tanks, and mirrors. Ensure that there are no cracked, bent, or broken parts in the exhaust system or batteries. Securely tighten the fuel cap, ensuring no missing gaskets or gas leaks.

Lastly, check the mirrors for any cracks or broken parts. Additionally, inspect the door hinges and handles to ensure they are functioning properly and securely mounted.

Pre trip inspection screenshot

Step 3: Engine Start-Up

After inspecting the main components of your truck, it's time to “start” the engine. Remember to keep it in neutral during this step. Pay attention to the following:

  1. Check the oil pressure gauge to ensure proper readings.
  2. Observe the electrical systems for proper charging.
  3. Slowly release the clutch and idle the truck at around 650 RPM.
  4. Monitor the gauges to ensure proper air pressure buildup.

Now, turn on all lights and flashers to confirm their proper functioning. Don't forget to check the reflectors, as they are often overlooked but crucial for safety. Damaged reflectors can result in fines. While the lights and flashers are on, briefly step away from the truck.

Upon returning, recheck under the hood for potential leaks around the engine. Ensure that the belts have proper tension and rotation. If everything appears to be in good condition, securely close the hood and proceed to the next step.

Step 4: Test Your Truck's Movement for Smooth Performance

Now it's time to ensure your truck is in optimal condition. Testing its movement is crucial to identify any potential issues. Follow these steps:

  1. Back up around 6 feet to confirm smooth turning of the trailer wheels. Look out for resistance or grinding sounds, which may indicate alignment or brake problems.

  2. Move forward and apply the trailer brake to check its functionality. Ensure a secure connection of the 5th wheel and watch for any unusual movements or noises.

If you encounter any issues during the movement test, such as difficulty in turning or irregular braking, address them promptly. Consult a qualified mechanic or your fleet maintenance team for further evaluation and necessary repairs.

Taking proactive steps to resolve these problems will enhance your truck's performance, prioritize safety, and ensure a trouble-free journey on the road.

Black male trucker

Step 5: Don't Forget the Interior

A comprehensive inspection includes checking the inside of your truck as well. Pay attention to the following:

  1. Check the dashboard for warning signs such as the oil pressure gauge, air pressure gauge, and water temperature gauge.

  1. Keep the interior clean and free of loose objects between the gas and brake pedals.

  1. Verify the good condition of the seatbelt, ensuring it is not ripped or frayed and the latches are adjusted properly.

  1. Test the functionality of the horns.

  1. Confirm that emergency equipment, such as a fully charged fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, and spare fuses, is present.

  1. Inspect the windshield wipers, ensuring that the blades are not dry or cracked.

  1. Perform a parking brake check, trailer brake check, tractor brake check, and service brake check to ensure proper functionality.

  1. Conduct an air brake test to identify any air leaks or pressure issues. This test also checks the functionality of warning systems for low air pressure.

FREE eBook for New Truckers

Download Here


  1. Perform a thorough inspection under the hood, checking for any damage, leaks, and properly mounted components.

  1. Securely tighten all caps and covers while inspecting the engine for signs of wear or fraying.

  1. Pay close attention to the condition of the steering axle tires, looking out for uneven wear or any nails.

  1. Properly lubricate the ball joints, shock absorbers, and kingpins.

  1. Verify the functionality of the engine fan and check the level of windshield wiper fluid.

  1. Conduct a comprehensive examination of the exterior, including tires, wheels, air lines, electrical cords, and landing gear.

  1. Diligently inspect the exhaust system, batteries, fuel tanks, mirrors, door hinges, and handles for any signs of damage.

  1. Start the engine and carefully monitor the gauges, ensuring proper readings. Test the functionality of lights, flashers, and reflectors.

  1. Assess the movement of the truck by backing up and applying the trailer brake.

  1. Take the time to conduct interior checks, examining dashboard gauges, seatbelt condition, horn functionality, emergency equipment presence, windshield wiper condition, and brakes' effectiveness, including air pressure.

By implementing these practical steps, truckers can prioritize safety and enjoy a smooth and efficient journey.

Subscribe to stay up to date with all the business tips.

Your email address

Select one