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The Basics of a Pre-Trip Inspection

Middleton & Meads Pre-Trip Inspection

A daily pre-trip inspection is required by law for all truck drivers because it’s necessary for a smooth and safe ride every time they hit the road.

Professional truck drivers need to become masters of the pre-trip inspection in order to have a smooth and successful career. This is true if for no other reason than the fact that pre-trip inspections are federal law and need to be completed and reported regularly. The law requires a pre-trip inspection to be completed at the start of every job and once every 24 hours while on that job—this is to ensure the operability of the truck and the safety of the driver, as well as all other drivers on the road. A serious truck breakdown could range from taking a driver way off-schedule to causing serious harm to the driver or other drivers that are nearby when the breakdown occurs. A pre-trip inspection shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes for those who are still somewhat new to their trucking career or their truck, and they should take as little as 10-15 minutes for experienced truckers and those who have had the same truck for a while. The best practice for most truck drivers is to perform a pre-trip inspection each morning before hitting the road for the day.

The Front

Make sure your lights are undamaged and fully operational, first and foremost. This is a quick check, and it’s imperative for the safety of everyone. The engine also needs a quick check—this can take longer for inexperienced drivers or anyone with a new truck they aren’t familiar with yet, but it’s an important part of your inspection, and you absolutely should take the time to do it and do it right. Check fluid levels, the radiator, the alternator, and the belts, along with all of the other important components. If you’re not used to pre-trip inspections yet, make use of a checklist to keep track of everything you should check and make sure it’s all in good working order. This also helps to build familiarity with your vehicle, so you’ll notice problems sooner and get them repaired before they become a safety hazard.

Moving Back

As you head toward the back of the truck, check the tires and brakes, along with the suspension, drive shaft, fuel tanks, and batteries. Like with the front, familiarize yourself with all of the components around this area of the truck and familiarize yourself with how they should look and operate so you can spot problems more quickly.

In-Cab Inspection

Once you feel comfortable with the inspection done on the outside of your truck, you can begin the in-cab inspection by getting in your truck and starting it up. Makes sure your gauges are working, along with your AC and heat, and power windows. Check your mirrors, windshield wipers, horn, and seat belts to ensure they’re fully operational and in their optimal positions.

Once you’ve completed your pre-trip inspection, you’re ready to hit the road! Don’t skip these important vehicle checks and take them seriously to protect yourself and other drivers while also making sure you can maintain your schedule and make your delivery or pick-up on time.


Need to repair your truck or bus? Contact Middleton & Meads today! Middleton & Meads provides quality truck and bus repair, service, and fleet management for the Baltimore, MD area. We have over 90 years of experience in the trucking industry and will provide you with customer service like you have never experienced before! If you are interested in seeing how we can help your business, give us a call at (410) 752-5588 or visit us online today! For more articles and trucking tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn.