All About Vehicle Inspections

by Flint Holbrook
2 min read
July 8, 2022

Pre and post trip Vehicle inspections are integral to your maintenance and safety programs. Let's break down the vehicle inspection and answer some common questions.

When to conduct a vehicle inspection

According to FMSCA, the driver should conduct pre-and post-trip inspection each day the driver uses the vehicle. The driver should know how to identify any problem. Pre-and post-trip inspections are essential. It saves you time and money by preventing downtime on the road and reduces the risk of a mechanical related safety incident. 

The vehicle's pre-trip should be conducted before the vehicle departs its parking location for the work shift. The pre-trip inspection ensures that all mechanical systems on the vehicle are safe and in working order for the day ahead. 

Post-trip inspection should be completed when the vehicle returns to its parking area after the work shift. The post-trip is as essential as the pre-trip; it is necessary to check all the vital components at the end of the workday and ensure no issues have developed. If a problem is found, mechanics often have enough time to repair the matter before the vehicle departs again for its next trip.

How to conduct a vehicle inspection

There is a proper way of conducting the vehicle inspection to match the standard of FMSCA. First, you need to find a suitable place to inspect; it should be on pavement and away from moving vehicles, use wheel chocks for safety prior, wear appropriate safety equipment like a vest, gloves, and eye protection. 

The vehicle inspection should include:

  • Check for leaks
  •  Engine Oil level
  •  Engine Coolant level
  •  Belts, water pump, alternator, and power steering pump
  •  Check the frame for cracks or unusual wear, 
  • Check the springs, shock absorbers, and suspension components for unusual wear or cracking,
  • Check Steering linkage and joints.
  • Check the brake system, including brake chambers, hoses, and drums.
  • Check Tires for adequate tread and unusual wear.
  • Check the headlights, parking, brake, and turn lights.
  •  Check the wipers for normal function.
  • Ensure mud-flaps and bumpers are in place and undamaged
  • Check the mirrors for cracks or damage.
  • Check registration and insurance documents. 

A driver-vehicle inspection report (DVIR) is a form that the driver should fill when performing an inspection. These forms are often structured like a checklist that asks the driver to check and confirm each part in the above list. The driver is responsible for completing the inspection, recording it on the DVIR, and turning it into the motor carrier.

A note on FMSCA Compliance

In most cases, the pre and post-trip inspections that your drivers perform will never be reviewed by a compliance agency unless you are selected for a DOT audit. You should maintain vehicle inspections and repair reports for 14 months from the date of creation if you are audited. 

In addition to inspections, any of your commercial vehicles can be inspected by law enforcement. The officer may note mechanical issues, issue a citation, and/or place the vehicle out-of-service until the issue is resolved. Law Enforcement inspections are notoriously stringent.

Any issue identified or a clean inspection identified by law enforcement is automatically reported to the FMSCA. These inspections impact the carrier's SMS score - clean inspections help the score, and issues hurt the score.

Final Thought

Pre and Post-trip inspections are a significant pain to a carrier and an even bigger pain to the driver. However, they are essential to ensure that your fleet is operating safely and efficiently. Training your drivers to complete thorough vehicle inspections is tough, but you will reap the rewards once you get it right.