A Breakdown of the 6 Components of a DOT Inspection

DOT Inspection 6 Levels Middleton & Meads

Here is a breakdown of a DOT inspection’s six levels.

Last week, we discussed how to pass a Level 1 DOT inspection. However, there are five other levels. Today, we will briefly discuss all six components and what you should know about them. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that any commercial vehicle that weighs over 10,001 pounds undergo an inspection to ensure all parts work optimally. Here is a breakdown of a DOT inspection’s six levels. 

Level 1 of a DOT Inspection: The North American Standard (NAS) Inspection 

Level 1 inspections are standard and the most thorough. The inspector, as we briefly touched on last week, will look at: 

  • Your CDL
  • Your Medical Certificate
  • Your Logbook (for your last eight days on-duty)
  • Your Medical Card or Waiver (if applicable) 

An inspector will also see if there’s been any drug or alcohol use and look at the vehicle’s 

  • Seat Belt
  • Exhaust System
  • Turn Signals
  • Tail Lamps
  • Headlamps
  • Steering Wheels
  • Wheels and Rims
  • Fuel System

This examination typically takes between 45-60 minutes. 

Level 2: The Walk Around 

The second level involves all that the first examination does, except the conductor doesn’t go underneath the truck and takes about 30 minutes to complete. 

Level 3: The Driver-Only Inspection 

During this part, the inspector will take a detailed look at the driver’s credentials. An inspector will look at your skill performance evaluation certificate (SPC), driver’s license, medical certificate, the record of duty status (RODs), seat belt usage, and any driver vehicle reports that you signed. This component only takes about 15 minutes. 

Level 4 of the DOT Inspection: The One-Time Inspection

This level refers to a look at particular items that are only applicable for a one-time circumstance. Usually, this examination verifies (or invalidates) a specific claim about a vehicle. How long this takes varies. 

Level 5: Inspecting the Vehicle Only 

Everything specified under Level 1 is what an inspector examines in Level 4. The only difference is that the driver is not present whatsoever. An inspector will inspect the brakes, steering mechanisms, suspensions, and electrical cables. Level 4 of a DOT inspection takes no more than about 45 minutes to complete. 

Level 6: The Enhanced NAS Inspection Regarding Radioactive Shipments 

This level deals with particular radiological shipments related to compromised highway route controlled quantities set forth by DOT’s title 49 section 173.403. Once complete, a nuclear symbol will indicate that the truck passed the level 5 inspection. However, it’s only valid for one trip. Upon reaching a designated location, the logo is no longer applicable. 

The best way to pass all levels is to ensure that truck maintenance is at the forefront, which we can help with, given that we have decades and decades of experience. 


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