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Cab Check/Engine Start

Clutch/gearshift:
  • Depress clutch.
  • Place gearshift lever in neutral (or park, for automatic transmissions).
  • Start engine, then release clutch slowly.
Oil pressure gauge:
  • Make sure oil pressure gauge is working.
  • Check that pressure gauge shows increasing or normal oil pressure or that the warning light goes off.
  • If equipped, oil temperature gauge should begin a gradual rise to the normal operating range.
Temperature gauge:
  • Make sure the temperature gauge is working.
  • Temperature should begin to climb to the normal operating range or temperature light should be off.
Ammeter/voltmeter:

Check that gauges show alternator and/or generator is charging or that warning light is off.

Mirrors and windshield:
  • Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside.
  • Windshield should be clean with no illegal stickers, no obstructions or damage to the glass.
Emergency equipment:
  • Check for spare electrical fuses.
  • Check for three red reflective triangles.
  • Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.

Note: If the vehicle is not equipped with electrical fuses, you must mention this to the examiner.

Steering play:
  • Non-Power steering - Check for excessive play by turning steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about 2 inches on a 20-inch wheel)
  • Power steering - With the engine running, check for excessive play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about 2 inches on a 20-inch wheel) before front left wheel barely moves.
Wipers/washers:
  • Check that wiper arms and blades are secure, not damaged, and operate smoothly.
  • If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.
Lighting indicators:

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

  • Right turn signal
  • 4-way emergency flashers
  • High-beam headlight
Horn:
  • Check that air horn and/or electric horn work.
Heater/defroster:
  • Test that the heater and defroster work.
Simply tell the examiner: "I am now going to perform a safe start of the engine." A "safe start" implies that you will depress the clutch, place the gear shifter into neutral, start the engine, then slowly release the clutch.
After starting the engine, show the examiner where the oil pressure gauge is located and say: "With the engine running, pressure will slowly begin to build to normal operating range as specified by the manufacturer."
After starting the engine, show the examiner where the temperature gauge is located and then say: "The temperature gauge will continue to slowly build to normal operating range."
After starting the engine, show the examiner where the voltmeter is located and say: "I'm checking the voltmeter to be sure it's charging. Once charged, it should show between 13 and 14 volts."
Tell the examiner: "The windshield and mirrors should not be cracked or broken. They should also be free of obstructions, clean, and the mirrors should be properly adjusted."
The examiner will ask you what type of emergency equipment you are required to carry. You may have to physically show him that the truck is equipped with the required equipment. Tell the examiner "this vehicle is equipped with a fully charged fire extinguisher, 3 red reflective triangles, and spare electrical fuses." If the vehicle you're driving is equipped with circuit breakers, you do not need to have spare fuses and you should inform the examiner.
While the engine is running, turn the steering wheel back and forth and tell the examiner: "I'm checking the steering wheel to make sure it is properly secured, does not have more than 10 degrees of free play, is not bent and is not broken."
Point to the windshield wipers and tell the examiner: "The windshield wipers should be properly mounted, secured, not cracked, broken or dry rotted. The washer fluid needs to operate correctly." You should actually demonstrate that the wipers and washer fluid works properly.
You need to physically demonstrate that each lighting indicator properly illuminates on your dash. You should check each indicator separately, point to the indicator as it illuminates, and explain to the examiner which indicator you are checking.
You must check that both the city horn as well as the air horn function properly. To do this, you should tell the examiner, "I will now check both the city horn as well as the air horn to make sure they are both functioning properly."
You will need to physically check both the heater and defroster. Demonstrate the both of them work by first, turning on the heat and physically checking to make sure warm air comes out of the vents. Then, check the defrost and make sure air flows out of the vents located near the windshield. Tell the examiner: "I am now checking to make sure both the heat and the defroster are working correctly."

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

When checking the mirrors and windshield, what should you look for?
  • No damage
  • Clean and properly adjusted
  • You should look for all of these things
  • No obstructions

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Mirrors and windshield:

  • Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside.
  • Windshield should be clean with no illegal stickers, no obstructions or damage to the glass.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

What to tell the examiner:

There are no cracks, breaks, or obstructions in the windshield or mirrors and the the mirror and windshield are clean and properly adjusted.

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Make sure windshield wipers are:
  • Washer fluid operates correctly
  • Properly secured
  • All of these should be checked when inspecting windshield wipers
  • Operate smoothly

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Wipers/washers:

  • Check that wiper arms and blades are secure, not damaged, and operate smoothly.
  • If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

When checking windshield wipers, tell the examiner:

"Arms and blades are secure and operate smoothly. Wiper blades are not cracked or dry rotted and the washer fluid operates correctly."

Be sure to demonstrate the wiper and washer functions.

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Which of these statements about checking the oil pressure gauge is correct?
  • After starting the engine, check that the pressure gauge shows increasing oil pressure
  • The pressure gauge should show normal pressure immediately after engine start
  • None of these answers are correct
  • After starting the engine, check that the pressure gauge shows declining oil pressure

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Oil pressure gauge:

  • Make sure oil pressure gauge is working.
  • Check that pressure gauge shows increasing or normal oil pressure or that the warning light goes off.
  • If equipped, oil temperature gauge should begin a gradual rise to the normal operating range.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

What to tell the examiner:

I'm checking the oil pressure gauge to make sure pressure is building to normal operating range.

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Do you need to test the horn during your pre-trip inspection?
  • Yes, but only the electric horn has to function properly
  • No, the horns do not need to be checked during a pre-trip inspection
  • Yes, both the electric horn and the air horn must be shown to work properly
  • Yes, but only the air horn has to function properly

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Horn:
Check that air horn and/or electric horn work.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

While laws vary from state to state, when taking your pre-trip exam, you should demonstrate that both the city (electric) horn and the air horn function properly. As you're demonstrating, here's what to say:

"I am now checking the city horn and the air horn to be sure they are both properly functioning."

This is one thing that many people forget to do when taking the pre-trip exam. Don't forget the horns!

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Dash indicators must work when all of the following lights are turned on, except:
  • Right Turn Signal
  • 4-way emergency flashers
  • High beam headlights
  • Fog lamps

Quote From The CDL Manual:

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

  • Right turn signal
  • 4-way emergency flashers
  • High-beam headlights

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Be sure to demonstrate each lighting indicator on the dash and tell the examiner what you're doing. For example, while demonstrating, you should say:

"I am now checking the lighting indicators to be certain the dashboard lights function properly. The turn signal indicators work (while checking the turn signals), the 4-way emergency flashers indicator works (while checking the 4-way emergency flashers), and the high beam headlight indicator works properly."

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What is the proper order for checking the clutch and gearshift?
  • Depress the clutch, start the engine, move the gearshift lever into the neutral position, release the clutch slowly
  • Start the engine, depress the clutch, place gearshift lever into the neutral position, release clutch slowly
  • Place gearshift lever in the neutral position, start the engine, then depress the clutch
  • Depress the clutch, place gearshift lever in the neutral position, start the engine and release the clutch slowly

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Clutch/gearshift:

  • Depress clutch.
  • Place gearshift lever in neutral (or park, for automatic transmissions).
  • Start engine, then release clutch slowly.
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The three required safety items all commercial vehicles must have are:
  • CB radio, spare light bulbs, first aid kit
  • First aid kit, road flares, fire extinguisher
  • Spare electrical fuses, three red reflective triangles, fire extinguisher
  • Road flares, reflective safety vest, fire extinguisher

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Emergency equipment:

  • Check for spare electrical fuses.
  • Check for three red reflective triangles.
  • Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Be sure to memorize all of the required safety equipment and know where the equipment is located so you can show the examiner.

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When checking the steering wheel, how much free play is allowed?
  • Play should not exceed 15 degrees
  • Play should not exceed 20 degrees
  • Play should not exceed 5 degrees
  • Play should not exceed 10 degrees

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Steering play:

  • Non-Power steering - Check for excessive play by turning steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about 2 inches on a 20-inch wheel).
  • Power steering - With the engine running, check for excessive play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about 2 inches on a 20-inch wheel) before front left wheel barely moves.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

What to tell the examiner:

"The steering wheel has less than 10 degrees of free play, is not bent, broken, or cracked and is properly mounted and secured."

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Which of the following is NOT a required safety item?
  • Properly charged and rated fire extinguisher
  • Three red reflective triangles
  • Spare electrical fuses (unless equipped with circuit breakers)
  • Spare light bulbs

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Emergency equipment:

  • Check for spare electrical fuses.
  • Check for three red reflective triangles.
  • Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

You must memorize the required safety equipment and show the examiner where all of these items are located.

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During the pre-trip inspection, are you required to check that the heat, air conditioning, and defroster work properly?
  • Only the air conditioner
  • All of these must work properly
  • Only the heat and defroster
  • Only the heat

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Heater/defroster:

Test that the heater and defroster work.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

All commercial vehicles are required to have properly working heat and defrosters. You must demonstrate that both the heat and defrost work separately and function properly. When checking the defroster, move your hand near the windshield so you can feel the air and be sure the examiner sees you checking to be sure it functions correctly. You should then change the airflow so that it comes out of the vents only and feel to make sure the air is warm. Here's what to say to the examiner while checking the heat and defrost:

"I am now checking to be sure the heater and defroster work properly and they must work separately from each other."

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