Sample pre-trip inspection of tractor-trailer units

To be effective, a pre-trip inspection of a tractor-trailer unit 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 truck, starting at the cab 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. 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 inspection 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).


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 (827-140 kpa).




Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside.


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


Parking brake check


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
  • Courtesy/map light

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 brakes side 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
  • Springs/air/torque
  • Shock absorbers
  • Trailer suspension

Brakes (Including trailer)

  • Slack adjustors
  • Brake chambers
  • Brake air lines
  • Brake linings

Wheels, tires (Including trailer)

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

Lights and indicators (Including trailer)

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
  • Brake light
  • Reverse light
  • Low beams
  • High beams
  • Body marker and clearance lights
  • Auxiliary lighting, such as fog lamps, load lights, etc.

Trailer items

In addition to the braking, suspension, and lighting above, the following should be checked:


Trailer ladders and cat walks condition


Hitch release lever function


5th wheel jaws, fully closed around king pin


5th wheel skid plate grease


5th wheel slider pins intact


Verify chain and tie downs are secured in rack


Check delivery hose securement (if equipped)


Check refrigeration unit operation (if equipped)






Checked by:

Copyright ©2018, ISO Services Properties, Inc.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries ("The Hanover") specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with The Hanover. 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 DEC 2018 2015-112
171-1172 (12/18)