A truck pre-trip inspection is a basic step in truck maintenance that ensures the vehicle is ready for operation and safe to drive. This is a step that the company driver must not skip. A pre-trip inspection should be done every time you operate your vehicle, but it also helps you identify and correct common problems before they become more serious.

What Is a Pre-Trip Inspection of the Truck?

A truck pre-trip inspection is a set of activities that a truck driver or owner should perform before making any trip. This is because they are responsible for the safety of their vehicle, as well as its cargo and passengers.

A pre-trip inspection should include checking:

  • Roadworthiness – for example, tires, lights (including brake lights), mirrors, and wipers.
  • Safety – for example, brakes and horn.
  • Mechanical fitness – for example, engine oil levels; fluids such as coolant or power steering fluid; clutch wear; tire pressure; fuel tank capacity.


What Is A Pre Trip Inspection Of The Truck

Source: Adobe Stock

Why Is It Important To Perform a Pre-Trip Inspection?

Taking the time to do a pre-trip inspection of your truck is important for a number of reasons. First, it’s the law. If you drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), federal regulations require that you perform an inspection before each use, and most state laws have similar requirements. Second, performing a pre-trip inspection checks not only for compliance with applicable laws but also for essential mechanical integrity – which will make your truck safer to drive. Thirdly, performing regular maintenance helps keep your truck reliable and economical in maintenance costs over time.


Safety is the main reason for doing a pre-trip inspection. It’s the number one concern of truck drivers and owner operators, as well as insurance companies and the entire industry itself.

Before you get in your truck, take some time to make sure that everything is safe and working properly. A few minutes spent making sure that your vehicle is road-ready could reduce your chances of creating a hazardous situation.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that you inspect your truck before and after each trip. This is known as a pre-trip and post-trip inspection. The inspection must be performed by a licensed inspector, who must also sign off on the inspection report.



Liability insurance covers the cost of injuries or damages that result from your truck’s operation. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, liability insurance is required by law (though it’s also advisable for personal vehicles). So, if you get into an accident and cause injury or property damage, the other driver can file a claim against your policy to recoup their costs.

General Maintenance

A pre-trip inspection is a good way to keep your truck in great condition so that it will last longer. It’s also a good idea for your safety because if there are problems with the vehicle, then you can fix them before they become dangerous for yourself or others on the road around you.

General Maintenance

Source: Adobe Stock

Saves Your Money

A pre-trip inspection is a great way to save time and money during summer trucking. As you drive your truck, you will be able to see things that need attention. You can also fix them before they become major repairs.

Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist for Truck Drivers

A pre-trip inspection is a critical part of the truck driver’s job, and it’s important that you know how to do it right. It’s also important that you know what to check in order to keep yourself and your fellow drivers safe on the road.


Check the oil level and color. If the level is above the top of the dipstick, add a quart of new oil to bring it up to the full mark. If it’s below, fill up with enough to reach the proper level.

Check for any sign of oil leakage from hoses or gaskets, like rust on bolts and springs. Check your spark plugs too — they should be clean and free of deposits or damage (if there’s a lot of carbon buildup around them then they might need replacing). Also, make sure that none are cracked or broken off at their base.

Engine How To Do A Truck Pre Trip Inspection

Source: Adobe Stock

Fuel Tank and Battery

You should check your fuel tank and battery for leaks. If you see any, get it fixed quickly before they cause damage to the rest of your truck. You also need to make sure that there is enough gas in the tank (and no more) and that the battery is fully charged up. If not, fill it up or charge it right away!


When checking the brakes, look for the following:

  • Brake lights. Make sure you have enough brake light fluid in your vehicle. The brake pedal should be firm, but not too hard to push down. The emergency brake should be able to release easily with a pull of its lever. If you are having trouble releasing your emergency brake or if it takes more effort than usual, try pumping the brakes several times before trying again — this may help get rid of any rust buildup in your system and allow for easier operation later on down the road when you need them most!
  • Brake drums and rotors. While checking these parts for cracks or damage can take some specialized tools (and know-how), there are things that even novices can look out for that indicate problems with their functionality such as noise when braking or uneven wear patterns on either side of each component when inspecting visually from above so keep an eye out while driving around town!

Brakes How To Do A Truck Pre Trip Inspection

Source: Freepik


Check all of the fluids in your truck. This includes:

  • Coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid (including the master cylinder)

The good news is that you don’t have to be a wizard with a dipstick or any other kind of tool to check these things out; just keep an eye out for leaks and strong odors like burning rubber or gasoline, as well as discoloration in colors ranging from clear/yellowish to dark brown/black. If anything looks wrong with any one of these fluids, it’s time for some action!


You should always check the tire pressure and tread depth before every trip, as well as during every trip if you notice anything unusual. You can use an air gauge to check the pressure or a penny for measuring tread depth. In this way, you will be able to prevent one of the most common truck breakdowns.


Source: Adobe Stock


The important thing to look at when inspecting a truck is the coupling. Look for signs of damage, such as cracks or rust on the coupler itself. Inspect the coupler lock as well as pins, bushings, and pins used to create a secure connection between the truck and trailer.

You should also inspect your trailer for any signs of damage like dents or scratches — especially if you use it regularly or have driven it long distances recently.


  • Trailer lights: They should all be working, but if you have any problems, check the bulb and the socket.
  • Trailer brakes: Check the pads for damage and wear, and make sure there’s enough brake fluid in your trailer’s reservoir.
  • Trailer tires:  Make sure they’re inflated properly and free of cuts or bulges before hitting the road with them! Buy new ones if necessary; old ones could cause dangerous blowouts while driving at high speeds.


Trailer How To Do A Truck Pre Trip Inspection

Source: Freepik


You should look for burnt-out bulbs, cracked lenses, and loose or missing housing. Also, make sure that the lens covers are not broken or cracked and that the wiring is not loose or broken. In addition to checking for operation, you also need to check if there are any problems with the light’s housing by looking at it closely with a flashlight in hand.

In-Cab Inspection

Inspect the cab for any signs of damage or wear. Look in the floorboard and under the seat for any loose or missing screws, bolts, or nuts. Check the seat tracks and brackets for wear. Inspect the windshield wipers, fluid level, and condition of blades. Check the parking brake cables, calipers, and drums for leaks, looseness, or damage. Inspect all hoses for leaks and signs of wear, especially those that have been replaced recently. Make sure that all lights on the dash are working properly. If you suspect an electrical problem with your truck, take it to a mechanic as soon as possible before it becomes more serious.


Emergency Kit

Keep the emergency kit in the cab with you. It’s crucial to have a first aid kit on hand, but there are other items that will also be helpful if you ever find yourself in a jam.


Emergency Kit

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Flares: These signal lights can alert others when your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road or if it’s parked in a dark area.

Reflective triangles: These triangle-shaped reflectors can be placed behind or near your vehicle as warning signals for approaching traffic when it is unable to move out of harm’s way due to mechanical problems.

Fire extinguisher: If a fire does occur make sure not only that everyone gets out safely but also that all valuables are removed from inside before attempting any type of rescue mission.

The pre-trip inspection is one of the most important parts of your safety checklist. It’s also the part that many drivers forget to do or don’t take seriously enough. It only takes a few minutes, but it can save you time, money, and headaches down the road if done correctly. We hope this article helps you with your pre-trip inspection!

For more insights into the trucking world, follow us on our YouTube channel Extra Mile International Inc Trucking Company, and visit our Instagram profile @extramiletx.

Fleet Manager & Recruiter at Extra Mile International | + posts

Mia is a Fleet Manager and Recruiter at Extra Mile International, based in Chicago. Mia is over 5 years in the trucking industry while driving trucks for more than 3 years.