CDL Practice Tests For Combination Vehicles

Our free CDL practice tests for Combination Vehicles are designed to help test your knowledge of the CDL Manual and sharpen your skills for taking the CDL permit and endorsement exams. They are not designed to teach you the knowledge necessary to pass the exams. Please do not try to memorize these CDL practice tests in order to get your CDL. There's a better way.

Our High Road CDL Training Program is by far the easiest and most effective way to learn the materials necessary for passing your written CDL exams and preparing for a great start to your career. We strongly suggest using the High Road (which is 100% free!) to learn the CDL manual before using our practice questions to test your knowledge.

CDL Practice Tests For Combination Vehicles

About The Combination Vehicles CDL Exam

The Combination Vehicles portion of the CDL exam is included in the General Knowledge portion of the written exam for your CDL permit. This section provides information needed to pass the tests for combination vehicles including tractor-trailer, doubles, triples, and straight truck with trailer.

This section covers:

  • Driving Combinations
  • Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
  • Antilock Brake Systems
  • Coupling and Uncoupling
  • Inspecting Combinations
  • Preventing Accidents

Rollover Risks

More than half of truck driver deaths in crashes are the result of truck rollovers. When more cargo is piled up in a truck, the "center of gravity" moves higher up from the road. The truck becomes easier to turn over. Fully loaded rigs are 10 times more likely to roll over in a crash than empty rigs.

Two things will help prevent rollover: keep the cargo as close to the ground as possible and drive slowly around turns. Keeping cargo low is even more important in combination vehicles than in straight trucks. Also, keep the load centered on your rig. If the load is to one side so it makes a trailer lean, a rollover is more likely. Make sure your cargo is centered and spread out as much as possible.

Steer Gently

Trucks with trailers have a dangerous "crack-the-whip" effect. When you make a quick lane change, the crack-thewhip effect can turn the trailer over. There are many accidents where only the trailer has overturned.

Prevent Trailer Skids

When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to swing around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is often called a "trailer jackknife.

The procedure for stopping a trailer skid is:

  • Recognize the Skid:

    The earliest and best way to recognize that the trailer has started to skid is by seeing it in your mirrors. Any time you apply the brakes hard, check the mirrors to make sure the trailer is staying where it should be. Once the trailer swings out of your lane, it is very difficult to prevent a jackknife.

  • Stop Using the Brake:

    Release the brakes to get traction back. Do not use the trailer hand brake (if you have one) to "straighten out the rig." This is the wrong thing to do since the brakes on the trailer wheels caused the skid in the first place. Once the trailer wheels grip the road again, the trailer will start to follow the tractor and straighten out.

Backing With A Trailer

When backing a car, straight truck or bus, you turn the top of the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. When backing a trailer, you turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction. Once the trailer starts to turn, you must turn the wheel the other way to follow the trailer.

Whenever you back up with a trailer, try to position your vehicle so you can back in a straight line. If you must back on a curved path, back to the driver's side so you can see.

  • Look at Your Path:
    Look at your line of travel before you begin. Get out and walk around the vehicle. Check your clearance to the sides and overhead, in and near the path of your vehicle.

  • Use Mirrors on Both Sides:

    Check the outside mirrors on both sides frequently.Get out of the vehicle and re-inspect your path if you are unsure.

  • Back Slowly:

    This will let you make corrections before you get too far off course. Correct Drift Immediately: As soon as you see the trailer getting off the proper path, correct it by turning the top of the steering wheel in the direction of the drift.

  • Pull Forward:

    When backing a trailer, make pull-ups to re-position your vehicle as needed.

Questions You Should Know For Combination Vehicles

  • 1. What two things are important to prevent rollover?
  • 2. When you turn suddenly while pulling doubles, which trailer is most likely to turn over?
  • 3. Why should you not use the trailer hand brake to straighten out a jackknifing trailer?
  • 4. What is off-tracking?
  • 5. When you back a trailer, you should position your vehicle so you can back in a curved path to the driver’s side. True or False?
  • 6. What type of trailers can get stuck on railroad-highway crossings?

Trailer Air Control

Tractor Protection Valve

The tractor protection valve keeps air in the tractor or truck brake system should the trailer break away or develop a bad leak. The tractor protection valve is controlled by the "trailer air supply" control valve in the cab. The control valve allows you to open and shut the tractor protection valve. The tractor protection valve will close automatically if air pressure is low (in the range of 20 to 45 psi). When the tractor protection valve closes, it stops any air from going out of the tractor. It also lets the air out of the trailer emergency line. This causes the trailer emergency brakes to come on, with possible loss of control.

Trailer Air Supply Control

The trailer air supply control on newer vehicles is a red eight-sided knob, which you use to control the tractor protection valve. You push it in to supply the trailer with air and pull it out to shut the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes. The valve will pop out (thus closing the tractor protection valve) when the air pressure drops into the range of 20 to 45 psi. Tractor protection valve controls or "emergency" valves on older vehicles may not operate automatically. There may be a lever rather than a knob. The "normal" position is used for pulling a trailer. The "emergency" position is used to shut the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes.

Trailer Air Lines

Trailer Air Lines

Every combination vehicle has two air lines, the service line and the emergency line. They run between each vehicle (tractor to trailer, trailer to dolly, dolly to second trailer, etc.). Emergency lines are often coded with the color red (red hose, red couplers or other parts) to keep from getting them mixed up with the blue service line.

Service Air Line:

The service line (also called the control line or signal line) carries air, which is controlled by the foot brake or the trailer hand brake. Depending on how hard you press the foot brake or hand valve, the pressure in the service line will similarly change. The service line is connected to relay valves. These valves allow the trailer brakes to be applied more quickly than would otherwise be possible.

Emergency Air Line:

The emergency line (also called the supply line) has two purposes. First, it supplies air to the trailer air tanks. Second, the emergency line controls the emergency brakes on combination vehicles. Loss of air pressure in the emergency line causes the trailer emergency brakes to come on. The pressure loss could be caused by a trailer breaking loose, thus tearing apart the emergency air hose. Or it could be caused by a hose, metal tubing or other part breaking, letting the air out. When the emergency line loses pressure, it also causes the tractor protection valve to close (the air supply knob will pop out).

Questions About Combination Vehicles

  • 1. Why should you not use the trailer hand valve while driving?
  • 2. Describe what the trailer air supply control does.
  • 3. Describe what the service line is for.
  • 4. What is the emergency air line for?
  • 5. Why should you use chocks when parking a trailer without spring brakes?
  • 6. Where are shut-off valves?

Combination Vehicle Brake Check

Perform these checks in addition to Section 5.3: Inspecting Air Brake Systems. The following section explains how to check air brakes on combination vehicles. Check the brakes on a double or triple trailer as you would any combination vehicle.

Check That Air Flows to All Trailers:

Use the tractor parking brake and/or chock the wheels to hold the vehicle. Wait for air pressure to reach normal and then push in the red "trailer air supply" knob. This will supply air to the emergency (supply) lines. Use the trailer hand brake to provide air to the service line. Go to the rear of the rig. Open the emergency line shut-off valve at the rear of the last trailer.

You should hear air escaping, showing the entire system is charged. Close the emergency line valve. Open the service line valve to check that service pressure goes through all the trailers (this test assumes that the trailer hand brake or the service brake pedal is on) and then close the valve. If you do NOT hear air escaping from both lines, check that the shut-off valves on the trailer(s) and dolly(ies) are in the OPEN position. You MUST have air all the way to the back for all the brakes to work.

Test Tractor Protection Valve:

Charge the trailer air brake system. (That is, build up normal air pressure and push the "air supply" knob in.) Shut the engine off. Step on and off the brake pedal several times to reduce the air pressure in the tanks. The trailer air supply control (also called the tractor protection valve control) should pop out (or go from "normal" to "emergency" position) when the air pressure falls into the pressure range specified by the manufacturer (usually within the range of 20 to 45 psi).

If the tractor protection valve does not work right, an air hose or trailer brake leak could drain all the air from the tractor. This would cause the emergency brakes to come on, with possible loss of control.

Test Trailer Emergency Brakes:

Charge the trailer air brake system and check that the trailer rolls freely. Then stop and pull out the trailer air supply control (also called tractor protection valve control or trailer emergency valve), or place it in the "emergency" position. Pull gently on the trailer with the tractor to check that the trailer emergency brakes are on.

Test Trailer Service Brakes:

Check for normal air pressure, release the parking brakes, move the vehicle forward slowly and apply trailer brakes with the hand control (trolley valve), if so equipped. You should feel the brakes come on. This tells you the trailer brakes are connected and working. (The trailer brakes should be tested with the hand valve but controlled in normal operation with the foot pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all wheels.)

Questions About Combination Vehicles

  • 1. Which shut-off valves should be open and which closed?
  • 2. How can you test that air flows to all trailers?
  • 3. How can you test the tractor protection valve?
  • 4. How can you test the trailer emergency brakes?
  • 5. How can you test the trailer service brakes?

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More