Sample pre-trip inspection of school buses

To be effective, a pre-trip inspection of a school bus (e.g., air-brake equipped) must be thorough and systematic and the individual performing the inspection must know what to look for. The following steps would be applicable to the inspection of a school bus, starting at the engine compartment and following a clockwise direction around the vehicle.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides guidance on pre-trip inspections, which this checklist is based on. A "Yes" indicates the item is acceptable. School bus operations are regulated at the state and local level and many of these jurisdictions have their own pre-trip inspection forms.

The "Remarks" box should be checked for those items needing attention and details added in the "Remarks" section. Necessary repairs should be made before the vehicle is used.

Pre-trip checklist




Engine compartment (engine off)




Oil level


Coolant level


Power steering fluid


Engine compartment belts (not more than ¾ in (1.9 cm) play at center of belt)


Emergency equipment


Check for spare electrical fuses.


Check for three red reflective triangles, six fuses or three liquid burning flares.


Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher (5 B:C or more).


Bodily fluid cleanup kit


Cab check & engine start


Depress clutch, if equipped. Place gearshift lever in neutral (or park, for automatic transmissions). Start engine, then release clutch slowly if equipped.


Oil pressure gauge


Temperature gauge


Air gauge, build air pressure to governor cut-out, roughly 120-140 psi (827 – 965 kpa).




Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside


Student exterior mirrors


Student interior mirrors


Student camera (if equipped)


Stop arms


Windshield should be clean with no obstructions or damage to the glass.


Check for excessive play by turning steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed ten degrees.


Check that wiper arms and blades are secure, not damaged, and operate smoothly.


If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.




Climate, including heat, defrost, and air-conditioning, controls function


Seat belt


Passenger access/compartment

Entry door function      
Handrail secure      
Stair threads      
Handicap lift (if equipped)      
Emergency exit door function      
Emergency windows door function (if equipped)      
Emergency roof hatch function (if equipped)      
Seating secured      

Interior lights and indicators


Test that dash indicators work when corresponding lights are turned on:

Left turn signal      
Right turn signal      
Four-way emergency flashers      
High beam headlight      
Anti-lock braking system (ABS) indicator      
Flashing red light indicator      
Flashing amber light indicator      
Roof store indicator (if equipped)      
Courtesy/map light      

Hydraulic brake check (if equipped)

Hydraulic brake check, fade      
Parking brake check      

Air brake check (if equipped)

Pressure drop not more than 3 psi (20.6 kpa kg) in one minute      
Low air warning not less than 60 psi (414 kpa)      
Parking brake applies when pressure drops below 40 psi (276 kpa)      
Service brakeside pull test      

External inspections

Fuel tank, including system cap      
Exhaust system      
Frame damage      
Splash guards      
Door latches      

Steering & suspension components check

Steering box/hoses      
Steering linkage      
Shock absorbers      

Air brakes (if equipped)

Slack adjustors      
Brake chambers      
Brake air lines      
Brake linings      

Hydraulic brake check (if equipped)

Brake lines      
Brake linings      

Wheels, tires

Rims undamaged      
Tire thread depth, 4/32 in (3.175 mm) steering, 2/32 inch all others (1.5875 mm)      
Tire pressure      
Hub seals      
Lug nuts      
Wheel spacers      

Lights and indicators

Using a spotter, or a reflective surface, to verify that the following lights operate:      
Left turn signal      
Right turn signal      
Four-way emergency flashers      
High beam headlight      
Flashing red light Indicator      
Flashing amber light indicator      
Roof Store Indicator (if equipped)      
Brake light      
Reverse light      
Low beams      
High beams      
Body Marker and Clearance Lights      
Auxiliary lighting, such as fog laps, load lights, etc.      





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Copyright ©2020, ISO Services Properties, Inc.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.


LC JAN 2019 2014-350
171-0985 (1/19)