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Side of Vehicle

Doors/mirrors:
  • Check that doors are not damaged and that they open and close properly from the outside. Hinges should be secure with seals intact.
  • Check that mirrors and mirror brackets are not damaged and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.
Fuel tank(s):

Check that the tank(s) is secure, cap(s) is tight, and that there are no leaks from tank(s) or lines.

Battery/box:
  • Wherever located, see that battery(s) is secure, connections are tight, and cell caps are present.
  • Battery connections should not show signs of excessive corrosion.
  • Battery box and cover or door must be secure.
Drive shaft:
  • See that drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
  • Couplings should be secure and free of foreign objects.
Exhaust system:
  • Check system for damage and signs of leaks such as rust or carbon soot.
  • System should be connected tightly and mounted securely.
Frame:

Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage to the longitudinal frame members, cross members, box and floor.

Rear of Vehicle

Splash guards:

If equipped, check that splash guards or mud flaps are not damaged and are mounted securely.

Doors/ties/lifts:
  • Check that doors and hinges are not damaged and that they open, close and latch properly from the outside if equipped.
  • Ties, straps, chains and binders must also be secure.
  • If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts and explain how it should be checked for correct operation.
  • Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.

Tractor/Coupling

Air/electric lines:
  • Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced or worn (steel braid should not show through).
  • Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled, pinched or dragging against tractor parts.
Catwalk:

Check that the catwalk is solid, clear of objects and securely bolted to tractor frame.

Mounting bolts:
  • Look for loose or missing mounting brackets, clamps, bolts or nuts. Both the fifth wheel and the slide mounting must be solidly attached.
  • On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle hook, etc.), inspect all coupling components and mounting brackets for missing or broken parts.
Locking jaws:
  • Look into fifth wheel gap and check that locking jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.
  • On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle, hook, etc.), inspect the locking mechanism for missing or broken parts and make sure it is locked securely. If present, safety cables or chains must be secure and free of kinks and excessive slack.
Platform (fifth wheel):

Check for cracks or breaks in the platform structure that supports the fifth wheel skid plate.

Release arm (fifth wheel):

If equipped, make sure the release arm is in the engaged position and the safety latch is in place.

Kingpin/apron/gap:
  • Check that the kingpin is not bent.
  • Make sure the visible part of the apron is not bent, cracked or broken.
  • Check that the trailer is laying flat on the fifth wheel skid plate (no gap).
Locking pins (fifth wheel):
  • If equipped, look for loose or missing pins in the slide mechanism of the sliding fifth wheel. If air powered, check for leaks.
  • Make sure locking pins are fully engaged.
  • Check that the fifth wheel is positioned properly so that the tractor frame will clear the landing gear during turns.
While checking the mirrors and doors, you should physically open and close the door. Tell the examiner: "Mirror and mirror brackets should be mounted securely, not cracked or broken, no loose fittings, and the mirrors should be clean. The doors must open and close properly, hinges should be secure, not cracked, bent, or broken, and the door seal should be in good condition with no tears or damage."
Point out the fuel tank and tell the examiner: "The fuel tank should be properly mounted and secured, the fuel cap should be on tight with no leaks, and there should be no signs of leaks under the tank."
Point out the location of the battery box, then tell the examiner: "The battery box should be properly mounted and secured. The battery should not show any signs of excessive corrosion and should not be leaking."
Show where the drive shaft is located, then say to the examiner: "The drive shaft should not be bent, twisted, or cracked and all U-joints should appear secure and free of foreign objects."
While pointing to the exhaust system, say to the examiner: "The exhaust system should be secured tightly with no loose clamps. There should be no signs of leaks such as rust or soot and no cracks, holes, or dents."
After showing the frame to the exmainer, you should say "The frame should be free from cracks or bends. It may not have any unauthorized holes or welds and must be securely mounted."
Show the location of the splash guards and tell the examiner: "Splash guards need to be mounted securely, not be cracked, bent, or broken and not touching the tire or the ground."
Locate the rear doors and tell the examiner: "The door hinges should not be cracked, bent, or broken with no missing nuts or bolts. Latches are secure, doors open and close, and door holdbacks are secure and in place."
Locate the air and electric lines, then tell the examiner: "All air lines should be securely mounted to the tractor and the trailer. Air lines should have no abrasions, buldges, or cuts. They should not be leaking and should not be dragging, tangled, or pinched."
Once you have pointed out the catwalk, tell the examiner: "The catwalk should not be bent, cracked, or broken. It should also be securely mounted and clear of loose objects."
Point out the mounting bolts, then tell the examiner: "All mounting bolts must be tight and none can be missing."
Point under the trailer in the direction of the locking jaws, then explain to the examiner: "Locking jaws must be fully engaged around the kingpin."
Show where the platform is located, then say to the examiner: "The platform should not be cracked or broken and must be securely mounted to the frame."
After pointing out the release arm, explain to the examiner: "The release arm should be locked into place with the safety latch in the proper position."
Point to each item and say to the examiner: "The apron should not be bent, cracked, or broken and there should be no visible space between the apron and the fifth wheel. The kingpin should not be cracked, bent, or broken and should be securely fastened."
Show the examiner where the locking pins are located, then say: "All locking pins should be fully engaged and the fifth wheel shoudl be positioned properly so that the tractor fram will clear the landing gear during turns."

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...

How much of a gap should be between the fifth wheel skid plate and the trailer?
  • There should be a gap of about 1 foot on level ground
  • There should be a 3 to 6 inch gap on level ground
  • There should be a small gap of less than 1 inch on level ground
  • There should be no gap at all

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Kingpin/apron/gap:

  • Check that the kingpin is not bent.
  • Make sure the visible part of the apron is not bent, cracked or broken.
  • Check that the trailer is laying flat on the fifth wheel skid plate (no gap).

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Be sure to tell the examiner that no gap should be present between the fifth wheel skid plate and the trailer apron.

Next
How can you tell if there is a leak in your exhaust system?
  • All of these can be signs of an exhaust leak
  • There will be carbon soot collected into one area of the pipe
  • There will be rust visible in a particular spot
  • A loose fitting may cause a leak

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Exhaust system:

  • Check system for damage and signs of leaks such as rust or carbon soot.
  • System should be connected tightly and mounted securely.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

While inspecting the exhaust system, tell the examiner:

"The exhaust should be properly mounted and secured, no loose clamps, no signs of leaks such as rust or soot, and it must contain no holes, cracks, or dents."

Prev
Next
Which one of these statements is false:
  • Doors on the tractor should open and close properly from the outside
  • All door seals should be intact
  • Door hinges should be secure
  • Mirrors and mirror brackets should be mounted with loose fittings

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Doors/mirrors:

  • Check that doors are not damaged and that they open and close properly from the outside. Hinges should be secure with seals intact.
  • Check that mirrors and mirror brackets are not damaged and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

When checking a door during your pre-trip exam, you should physically open and close the door, checking all necessary items. While demonstrating, you should say:

"The door opens and closes properly, hinges are secure, not cracked, bent, or broken and the door seal is present, not torn, or damaged."

Prev
Next
Which part has couplings (u-joints) that need to be checked:
  • Fuel Tank
  • Fifth Wheel
  • Air Lines
  • Drive Shaft

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Drive shaft:

  • See that drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
  • Couplings should be secure and free of foreign objects.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

When inspecting the drive shaft, tell the examiner:

"The drive shaft should not be twisted, cracked, bent or broken. U-joints must appear secure and free of foreign objects."

Prev
Next
Locking Jaws on a fifth wheel should be fully closed around what part of the trailer?
  • Tandem
  • Securing Hook
  • Crossbeam
  • Kingpin

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Locking jaws:

  • Look into fifth wheel gap and check that locking jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.
  • On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle, hook, etc.), inspect the locking mechanism for missing or broken parts and make sure it is locked securely. If present, safety cables or chains must be secure and free of kinks and excessive slack.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

While inspecting the fifth wheel locking jaws, tell the examiner:

"I need to make sure the locking jaw is fully engaged and that the fifth wheel is positioned properly so that the tractor frame will clear the landing gear during turns."

Prev
Next
Which statement about the air and electrical lines is FALSE:
  • Listen for air leaks
  • Make sure the air and electrical lines are dragging against the tractor cat-walk for additional support
  • Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled
  • Steel braid should not show through on the air or electrical lines

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Air/electric lines:

  • Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced or worn (steel braid should not show through).
  • Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled, pinched or dragging against tractor parts.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

You should say the following to the examiner for the air and electrical lines:

Air Lines: "The air lines are securely mounted to the tractor and trailer. The lines are secured to the trailer using glad hands and glad hand seals which are in good condition and not leaking air. They are not dragging on the cat walk, no leaks are present, and they are free of abrasions, bulges, or cuts."

Electrical Lines: "Electrical line is properly connected to the tractor and trailer, is not dragging on the cat walk, and has no cracked, frayed, or bare wires showing."

Prev
Next
When checking the fuel tank, make sure:
  • The cap is tight
  • There are no leaks from the tanks or the lines
  • The tank is properly mounted and secure
  • All of these answers are correct

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Fuel tank(s): Check that the tank(s) is secure, cap(s) is tight, and that there are no leaks from tank(s) or lines.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

When checking the fuel tank, tell the examiner:

"The tank must be properly mounted and secure, the cap must be on tight and not leaking, and there are should be no leaks under the tank."

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