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Section 10: Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Test

During the pre-trip inspection , you must show that the vehicle is safe to drive. You may have to walk around the vehicle and point to or touch each item and explain to the examiner what you are checking and why. You will NOT have to crawl under the hood or under the vehicle. In addition to Section 10, applicants should review Section 2.1 through 2.2 for the pre trip inspection.

10.1 All Vehicles

Study the following vehicle parts for the type of vehicle you will be using during the CDL skills exams. You should be able to identify each part and tell the examiner what you are looking for or inspecting.

Engine Compartment (Engine Off)

Leaks/hoses:
  • Look for puddles on the ground.
  • Look for dripping fluids on underside of engine and transmission.
  • Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.
Oil level:
  • Indicate where dipstick is located.
  • See that oil level is within safe operating range. Level must be above refill mark.
Coolant level:
  • Inspect reservoir sight glass, or
  • (If engine is not hot), remove radiator cap and check for visible coolant level.
Power steering fluid:
  • Indicate where power steering fluid dipstick is located.
  • Check for adequate power steering fluid level. Level must be above refill mark.
Engine compartment belts:

Check the following belts for snugness (up to 3/4-inch play at center of belt), cracks or frays:

  • Power steering belt.
  • Water pump belt.
  • Alternator belt.
  • Air compressor belt.
If any of the components above are not belt-driven, you must:
  • Tell the examiner which component(s) are not belt-driven.
  • Make sure component(s) are operating properly, are not damaged or leaking, and are mounted securely.

While you're approaching the vehicle, tell the examiner: "I am checking under the vehicle for anything hanging down such as loose hoses and am also looking for puddles or dripping fluids which would indicate the possibility of a leak."

You should then physically crouch down and check under the vehicle

You should tell the examiner: "I am checking the oil level by pulling the dip stick to be sure the level is above the refill mark and is in safe operating range."
Tell the examiner: "Coolant must be filled above the minimum level and the reservoir should not be leaking."
Tell the examiner: "The power steering fluid level must be filled above the refill mark and there should not be any leaking fluid."
For any parts that are belt driven, you should tell the examiner: "I am checking the belt to make sure it is not cracked or frayed and there is less than 3/4-inch of free play."
For any parts that are gear driven instead of belt driven, you should simply tell the examiner that the part is gear driven, not damage, leaking, and mounted securely.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Review Questions - Click On The Picture To Begin...

During your pre-trip inspection, you must check the oil level and:
  • Show how to test the oil for water
  • Demonstrate how to add oil to the engine
  • Rub some oil between your fingers to make sure the oil is free of metal shards and foreign debris
  • Indicate where the dipstick is located

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Oil level:

  • Indicate where dipstick is located.
  • See that oil level is within safe operating range. Level must be above refill mark.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

What to say to the examiner:

"The dipstick should be pulled to show that the oil level is above the refill mark and in safe operating range."

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For belt driven engine components (water pump, alternator, air compressor, etc), how much free play is allowed at the center of each belt?
  • 1 inch of free play
  • 3/4 inch of free play
  • No free play at all
  • 1.5 inches of free play

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Engine compartment belts: Check the following belts for snugness (up to 3/4-inch play at center of belt), cracks or frays:

  • Power steering belt.
  • Water pump belt.
  • Alternator belt.
  • Air compressor belt.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

When checking belts, tell the examiner:

The belt is not cracked, frayed, or broken and free play is between 1/2in and 3/4in."

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When checking the coolant level during the pre-trip inspection, you should:
  • Be sure the coolant level is below the fill line
  • Only remove the radiator cap if the engine is hot
  • Never remove the radiator cap if the engine is hot
  • Take a sample of the coolant to check for foreign debris

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Oil level:

  • Indicate where dipstick is located.
  • See that oil level is within safe operating range. Level must be above refill mark.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

When checking the coolant level, tell the examiner:

"The coolant level is filled above the minimum level and the reservoir is not cracked, broken, or leaking."

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