Tractor Trailer Inspection Requirements

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Tractor trailers account for many big truck accidents in the United States. In an effort to improve the safety of the vehicles, so that accidents due to worn or faulty components can be avoided, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has laid down certain requirements for the maintenance and periodic inspections of tractor trailers.

As per the FMCSA guidelines, a driver of a tractor-trailer is required to perform an inspection of his or her vehicle before, during, and after a trip, so as to pinpoint any defects in the truck and repair them prior to putting the truck back on the road.

Pre-Trip Tractor Trailer Inspection Requirements

Before driving a tractor trailer, a driver is required to inspect their vehicle carefully. The inspection includes the following actions:

Take a walk around the vehicle and note its overall condition. Look at the ground near and under the tractor trailer for evidence of any spills or leaks of water, oil, or gas.

Turn on the engine and put it on fast idle mode for warming up. Listen for any unusual engine noises. Take a look at the general engine space to see that all is well.

Ensure that there is enough water in the vehicle and check crankcase levels.

Check the lights on the front of the tractor and the back of the trailers. See that all headlights and other lights are in proper working condition.

Be sure there is no excessive slack or wear of the compressor belt and also check the engine fan.

Check all gauges to ensure that they are showing the proper readings.

Check the action of the steering wheel to see that it is working right.

Confirm that the horns, four way flashers, windshield wipers, and other emergency devices are in top working condition.

Check all the front wheels and the rear tires, on both the left and right side. Check all lugs and studs and look for any spent lubricants.

Check the trailer thoroughly. This includes checking the jaws, release lever, hook-ups, and also the tow bar, pintle hooks, safety chains, and the converter gear.

Check the brakes, including parking brakes, and the stoplights.

On Route Inspections

While on the road, the driver of the tractor trailer should make periodic stops and inspect the vehicle for any problem areas or defects. If he notices anything that may cause a problem, the driver should not continue driving the vehicle before getting it inspected by a mechanic and performing any necessary repairs.

Post-Trip Inspections

Drivers of tractor trailers are required to conduct an inspection of their vehicles after their run is completed. In such an inspection, they should make notes that indicate any actual problems or malfunctions of any components of the vehicle which may have occurred during the run. They are also expected to make a note of any suspected problems with the vehicle.

The pre-trip, on-route, and post-trip inspections are required to be carried out daily and for every run of the tractor trailer. A Driver Vehicle Inspection Report has to then be prepared and handed over to the company, which can then make any necessary repairs on the vehicle according to the report.

Annual Inspections

In addition to the daily inspections, a trucking company is required to get one major tractor-trailer inspection every year. Such an inspection has to be carried out by an inspector who is qualified and certified according to the requirements of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

A separate inspection has to be carried out for the tractor and any trailers. A mechanic of the company can perform the annual inspection, as long as he or she is in compliance with the DOT requirements for inspector certification.


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