CDL Practice Tests: Combination Vehicles

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Question #341 (1 of 10)

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When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with ABS, you should brake as you always have. In other words:

  • Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely and stay in control.
  • Brake the same way, regardless of whether you have ABS on the tractor, the trailer, or both.
  • All of these are correct
  • As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer and back off the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay in control.

When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with ABS, you should brake as you always have. In other words:

  • Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely and stay in control.
  • Brake the same way, regardless of whether you have ABS on the tractor, the trailer, or both.
  • As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer and back off the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay in control.
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Question #310 (2 of 10)

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What causes the "crack-the-whip" effect?

  • Low tire pressures
  • High-point thrusting
  • Rearward amplification
  • All these are correct

"Rearward amplification" causes the crack-the-whip effect.

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Question #343 (3 of 10)

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When you're hooking up the tractor to the trailer, how high should the trailer be relative to the tractor?

  • The trailer should be high enough that the tractor does not touch the trailer as you back under it
  • The trailer should be high enough that there is an inch of clearance between the 5th wheel and the trailer
  • None of these answers are correct
  • The trailer should be low enough that it is raised slightly by the tractor when the tractor is backed under it.
The trailer should be low enough that it is raised slightly by the tractor when the tractor is backed under it.
This question will not be on the test, but it's very important in real life. You don't want the trailer too high or too low when attempting to back under it. If the tractor lifts the trailer just slightly as you back under it, you're at the perfect height.
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Question #336 (4 of 10)

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Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks. They are filled by:

  • The pressure from the foot brake
  • The service line from the tractor
  • The emergency (supply) line from the tractor
  • Pulling out on the round yellow knob
Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks. They are filled by the emergency (supply) line from the tractor
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Question #346 (5 of 10)

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When inspecting a combination vehicle, you must check which of the following?

  • Glide plate securely mounted to trailer frame
  • All of these must be checked
  • 5th wheel release arm properly seated and safety latch/lock engaged
  • Locking jaws around the shank, not the head of kingpin

When inspecting a combination vehicle, you must check the following:

  • Glide plate securely mounted to trailer frame
  • Locking jaws around the shank, not the head of kingpin
  • Release arm properly seated and safety latch/lock engaged
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Question #322 (6 of 10)

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Which of the following are best practices for backing a trailer?

  • Primarily use the passenger's side mirror so you know what's on that side of the vehicle. Back in a curve toward the passenger's side whenever possible
  • Back with the driver's side mirror pointing toward the parking spot you're aiming for and keep it there until you're fully backed in
  • 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.
  • Try to position your vehicle so you can along a gentle curve. If you must back on a curved path, back to the passenger's side so you can see.
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.
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Question #311 (7 of 10)

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Rearward amplification of 2.0 in the chart means:

  • The rear trailer is half as likely to turn over as the tractor
  • The rear trailer is twice as likely to turn over as the tractor.
  • None of these are correct
  • The tractor is twice as likely to turn over as the trailer

Rearward amplification of 2.0 in the chart means that the rear trailer is twice as likely to turn over as the tractor.

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Question #321 (8 of 10)

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When making a right-hand turn, why is it important to keep the rear of your vehicle close to the curb?

  • It is illegal for the trailer tires to be more than 8 feet from the curb in a turn
  • To stop other drivers from passing you on the right
  • To prevent the tractor from going through a wider turn than the trailer
  • All these are correct
If there is more than one trailer, the rear wheels of the last trailer will off-track the most. Steer the front end wide enough around a corner so the rear end does not run over the curb, pedestrians, etc. However, keep the rear of your vehicle close to the curb. This will stop other drivers from passing you on the right.
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Question #324 (9 of 10)

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Which of the following statements is true about the trailer hand valve?

  • It works the trailer brakes. It serves mostly as a parking brake, especially when you're parked on a hill. It can be used under normal driving circumstances when only slight braking is needed.
  • It works the trailer brakes. It can be used for testing the trailer brakes or for stopping the trailer under normal conditions to save wear on the tractor brakes
  • It works the trailer brakes. It's main function is to give the driver fine control over the trailer brakes for better maneuvering in slick conditions. It can also be used as a parking brake.
  • It works the trailer brakes. It should be used only to test the trailer brakes. Do not use it in driving because of the danger of making the trailer skid.
The trailer hand valve (also called the trolley valve or Johnson bar) works the trailer brakes. The trailer hand valve should be used only to test the trailer brakes. Do not use it in driving because of the danger of making the trailer skid.
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Question #313 (10 of 10)

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Why do large combination vehicles take longer to stop when they are empty than when they are fully loaded?

  • The air pressure that builds up in the secondary air system when the trailer is empty can cause the wheels to lock up
  • Hard braking with an empty trailer will exceed the tire load limit
  • All these are correct
  • The very stiff suspension springs and strong brakes give poor traction and make it very easy to lock up the wheels.

Control your speed whether fully loaded or empty. Large combination vehicles take longer to stop when they are empty than when they are fully loaded. When lightly loaded, the very stiff suspension springs and strong brakes give poor traction and make it very easy to lock up the wheels.

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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

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?

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