A pre-trip fleet vehicle inspection, as its name implies, is the inspection you should do of your fleet vehicles before you take off on a trip, to ensure your vehicle is safe to be on the road. What kinds of things should you be looking for in your inspection?
Today, we’ll break down:
A list of must-check items in your pre-trip inspection
Why you need to be doing a pre-trip inspection before every haul and
The fastest way to get it done so you can get back on the road faster
From the front to the back of your truck and everything in between, below is a list of items you should really check on to ensure your vehicle is road ready.
The first thing you should do is check under the hood. Every check should include:
Examining the wiring of electrical systems such as the ignition, steering, and headlights
Ensure all hoses are connected and look for for any leaks that may be present
Examine the windshield washer fluid and make sure the container is full
Checking air pressure in the air filter housing and air compressor
Evaluate the brake drums, brake mount, brake linings and shock absorbers
And make sure valve caps are securely fastened
Next, make your way to the left side of the cab. Here you’ll want to make sure nothing is attached that shouldn’t be, and that things like your mirrors, lights, steps, and even air vents are working properly. Check that doors close securely, the locks work, and that windows go up and down normally.
While you’re there, remove any obstructions and/or garbage that may be in the cab. After all, according to FleetOwner.com, “a tidy cab can often mean ‘move along,’” and you’ll be less likely to have a thorough inspection in the event you are pulled over for a spot check.
Another thing to check while in the left side of the cab is that there are no cracks to the windshield, and that the wipers and blades are working properly. It’s a good idea to check that signals and hazard lights are functioning correctly inside the cab as well.
After you’ve tidied the cab, make your way to the front of the trailer. Here, you’ll be looking to ensure things like reflective tape or reflectors are intact. You also should be evaluating the body panels looking for anything that seems cracked, coming apart, or just looks out of place.
Moving on now to the left wheels and tires. You want to ensure that the tires are correctly inflated with adequate pressure, and not damaged in anyway. Wheel nuts should tight, looks for bulges or cuts in the tire sidewalls, and check that your tread path is adequate. While on that side of the vehicle also check for any visible fluid leaks that could potentially be coming from the engine, fuel systems and/or the waste water tank.
Check the tires in the front, and then make your way towards the back of the trailer on the left side to check for the following:
Are the rear tires in good condition?
Are the tail lights working properly?
Is the toe coupling fitted securely?
Are all indicators, lights and hoses fitted, working properly, clean, and free from damage?
What about the splash guards? Do they need the be cleaned or replaced?
At the rear of the trailer ensure that the doors, hinges and bumper are all intact. Doors should close completely. Hooks and latches as well as locks must be functioning properly. Reflectors or reflective tape must be in good condition. Check for leaks that you may see at the back for any reason.
Then, move onto the right side of the trailer and right tires. Repeat the process of checking for leaks, reflectors or reflective tape, trailer panels, the tires are in good condition, etc.
When you get back up to the right side at the front of the trailer, again you will check everything you checked on the left side before hopping into the right side of the cab. Here you will once again make sure doors and windows are functioning properly, and remove any garbage or obstructions from this side as well.
Before departure close the hood, test the horn, turn signal, headlights and high beams, and all indicators. It’s also a good idea to make sure all seatbelts are working properly, check that the fire extinguisher has been serviced and is ready to be used if needed, and that your speedometer is working correctly.
After months or years of driving a truck, some drivers may tend to get a little lax in their pre-trip fleet vehicle inspection. As a result, there are many elements that start getting overlooked. The most common of these include, but aren’t limited to:
Cleaning the vehicle. This might seem like it’s no big deal, but the reality is that what’s in your cab could cause you trouble on the road.
For example, an empty bottle could get stuck under a pedal causing you to wreck. Or another piece of garbage could get wedged in a mechanical device causing it to malfunction. While these scenarios may seem unlikely, they can happen.
We also want to reiterate that having a lot of junk in your cab could make you a bigger target for a more thorough inspection on the road. The faster you can get through those checkpoints, the faster you can get back on the road. If time is money, then it could pay to keep your cab clean.
This is not just an interior issue either. It’s important to maintain the cleanliness of the exterior of the vehicle as well. It’s harder to see cracks and faults on your trailer that may need maintenance, if the vehicle is too dirty.
Your brake system. People often forget about the importance of their brakes until the moment they have a problem with them. With your truck having heavier loads, and your slower stop time, it’s that much more imperative that you thoroughly check your brakes. Check it all, and not with just a quick glance. The wear and tear your brakes face on a daily basis demands your added attention.
The fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. Do you have a first aid kit in your cab? You should, and it should be well stocked/refilled when things are used or expire. And, when was the last time your fire extinguisher was serviced? Is its safety pin intact, or does it look like it’s been tampered with? Are you keeping it secure in your cab? These are things you need to think about, but may often forget about them until you need them.
Chock your wheels. Chocks are there to avoid the vehicle accidentally moving before you’re ready for it to. It’s far too easy to forget to chock your wheels if you’re speeding through things. Think about everything you’ll be doing in your pre-trip fleet vehicle inspection – do you really want to risk something as large as your truck moving on you while you’re performing your evaluations?
Not to sound dark and ominous here, but for starters a pre-trip fleet vehicle inspection can save lives. A brake failure, blown out tire, faulty steering system, and a host of other issues could cause an accident that could in fact lead to a death. Perhaps even your own!
What if you didn’t ensure that your rear doors on your trailer were securely fastened? Your doors could blow open on the road, and when your haul flies out it could impale another vehicle.
Let’s say you didn’t make sure your headlights were working, and you’re suddenly in a remote part of town at night with faulty lights. Would you be able to see the road safely? Doubtful!
Doing these inspections is not busy work, or just something the boss wants you to do because he enjoys giving you a hard time. It’s about preventing as many accidents as possible.
Then again, we’d be lying if we said that is all your boss cares about. It’s not just about preventing accidents. It’s also about saving as much money as possible.
Pop quiz! What costs more money to fix?
A single flat tire
A flat tire plus fixing the rim (because you kept driving on the flat)
You guessed it! B is the right answer. This might be an extreme answer, but it speaks to the point that smaller and/or simpler repairs cost less to fix.
For example, if you had checked for leaks and found a fluid leak, you could have simply replaced a hose. If instead you let it go, the fluid could leak all over the engine and various systems under the hood wreaking havoc and causing significantly more expensive damage.
What’s the fastest way to make your mechanic rich, and make your boss cry? Let small repair goes unchecked, and end up needing a lot more done to the vehicle to get it road ready again.
Consider for a moment your own finances as well. If you work for a smaller fleet, you might not be able to simply drive a different truck while one is being worked on. Not only will your company be losing money while the truck is off the road, you might miss out on a paycheck. Talk about a lose-lose situation that could have been prevented.
We understand. Doing pre-trip inspections as often as you’re supposed to do them can feel tedious. Monotonous even. Sure, skipping one inspection here or there might not lead to any significant tragedies.
On the other hand, for something that really doesn’t take that much time in the grand scheme of things to do – do you really want to put your truck, your body and your company at risk by skipping it?
You may be thinking that the reason you don’t to them is because you feel it takes far too long to complete these inspections. And, if you’re using the old school pen and carbon copy paper method of doing them, we might agree with you. Luckily, there is a much better way to do inspections these days….Enter Whip Around.
Using the Whip Around app is hands down the fastest ways to do your pre-trip inspections. What is Whip Around you ask? It’s the revolutionary mobile application that is changing the game in terms of how motorists are handling their driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIR).
With Whip Around, you can throw out all those paper DVIRs, and instead fill them out digitally with your smartphone, iPad, or a tablet. You simply create an account, download the app, and are able to create inspection forms with a simple drag-and-drop inspection form creator. Then, you pull up the form on your phone or tablet, follow the prompts, and before you know it, your inspection is complete.
If you find any faults with your vehicle while you’re inspecting it, there’s a space in the app to take a photo of it, and leave a comment as well. Once you finish your form, it will be automatically sent in real time to your boss or fleet manager, and they can pull up the form in their web based dashboard to review. If necessary, they can assign your vehicle to a mechanic. Or, if everything is in good condition, you can get on the road that much faster.
With Whip Around, you can fill out your DVIRs quickly, and ensure compliance. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your vehicle is road ready, without wasting time, or worrying about whether you skipped anything in your inspection.
Your boss will also enjoy the boost to the company’s bottom line that will inevitably occur. As a result maybe he won’t be as grouchy when you ask to take a vacation. Hey, it could happen!
We’re more about showing than telling anyway, and you can try Whip Around for free as early as today. Create a free account by clicking here, and you’ll be up and running in no time. A few clicks, and type in some simple information, and we’re confident you will quickly see just how much faster your can do a pre-trip fleet vehicle inspection.
It costs as much as $1,000 per day for a vehicle to be off the road. If you can prevent this kind of loss, why wouldn’t you?