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2.1.4 – CDL Vehicle Inspection Test

In order to obtain a CDL you will be required to pass a Vehicle inspection test. You will be tested to see if you know whether your vehicle is safe to drive. You will be asked to do a Vehicle inspection of your vehicle. You must point to/touch and name the item you are inspecting and explain to the examiner what you would inspect and why. The following seven-step inspection method should be useful.

2.1.5 – Seven-step Inspection Method

Method of Inspection:

You should do a vehicle inspection the same way each time so you will learn all the steps and be less likely to forget something.

Approaching the Vehicle:

Notice general condition. Look for damage or vehicle leaning to one side. Look under the vehicle for fresh oil, coolant, grease, or fuel leaks. Check the area around the vehicle for hazards to vehicle movement (people, other vehicles, objects, low-hanging wires, limbs, etc.).

Vehicle Inspection Guide

Step 1: Vehicle Overview

Review Last Vehicle Inspection Report. Drivers may have to make a vehicle inspection report in writing each day. The motor carrier must repair any items in the report that affect safety and certify on the report that repairs were made or were unnecessary. You must sign the report only if defects were noted and certified to be repaired or not needed to be repaired.

Step 2: Check Engine Compartment

Check That the Parking Brakes Are On and/or Wheels Chocked. You may have to raise the hood, tilt the cab (secure loose things so they don't fall and break something), or open the engine compartment door.

Check the following:

  • Engine oil level.
  • Coolant level in radiator; condition of hoses.
  • Power steering fluid level; hose condition (if so equipped).
  • Windshield washer fluid level.
  • Battery fluid level, connections and tie downs (battery may be located elsewhere)
  • Automatic transmission fluid level (may require engine to be running).
  • Check belts for tightness and excessive wear (alternator, water pump, air compressor)--learn how much "give" the belts should have when adjusted right, and check each one.
  • Leaks in the engine compartment (fuel, coolant, oil, power steering fluid, hydraulic fluid, battery fluid).
  • Cracked, worn electrical wiring insulation.
  • Lower and secure hood, cab, or engine compartment door.

Step 3: Start Engine and Inspect Inside the Cab

Get In and Start Engine:

  • Make sure parking brake is on.
  • Put gearshift in neutral (or "park" if automatic).
  • Start engine; listen for unusual noises.
  • If equipped, check the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) indicator lights. Light on dash should come on and then turn off. If it stays on the ABS is not working properly. For trailers only, if the yellow light on the left rear of the trailer stays on, the ABS is not working properly.

Look at the Gauges:

  • Oil pressure Should come up to normal within seconds after engine is started. See Figure 2.5
  • Air pressure Pressure should build from 50 to 90 psi within 3 minutes. Build air pressure to governor cut-out (usually around 120 – 140 psi). Know your vehicle’s requirements.
  • Ammeter and/or voltmeter Should be in normal range(s).
  • Coolant temperature Should begin gradual rise to normal operating range.
  • Engine oil temperature Should begin gradual rise to normal operating range.
  • Warning lights and buzzers Oil, coolant, charging circuit warning, and antilock brake system lights should go out right away.

Check Condition of Controls:

Check all of the following for looseness, sticking, damage, or improper setting:

  • Steering wheel
  • Clutch
  • Accelerator (gas pedal)
  • Brake controls
    • Foot brake.
    • Trailer brake (if equipped).
    • Parking brake.
    • Retarder controls (if equipped).
  • Transmission controls
  • Interaxle differential lock (if equipped)
  • Horn(s)
  • Windshield wiper/washer
  • Lights
    • Headlights.
    • Dimmer switch.
    • Turn signal.
    • Four-way flashers.
    • Parking, clearance, identification and marker switch(es).

Check Mirrors and Windshield

Inspect mirrors and windshield for cracks, dirt, illegal stickers, or other obstructions to seeing clearly. Clean and adjust as necessary.

Check Emergency Equipment

Check for safety equipment:

  • Spare electrical fuses (unless vehicle has circuit breakers)
  • Three red reflective triangles, 6 fuses or 3 liquid burning flares
  • Properly charged and rated fire extinguisher

Check for optional items such as:

  • Chains (where winter conditions require)
  • Tire changing equipment
  • List of emergency phone numbers
  • Accident reporting kit (packet)

Check Safety Belt

Check that the safety belt is securely mounted, adjusts; latches properly and is not ripped or frayed.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #47 (1 of 3)

Give a brief explanation of the problem:

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Why should you do a vehicle inspection the same way each time?

  • There is really only one way to do them
  • It's required by law
  • So you will learn all the steps and be less likely to forget something.
  • Every driver does inspections the same way
You should do a vehicle inspection the same way each time, so you will learn all the steps and be less likely to forget something.
It's much faster, easier, and more thorough to do the inspection the same way each time. Once you're taught the method for doing inspections, stick with it.
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Question #49 (2 of 3)

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What are three pieces of emergency equipment you must have with you?

  • Emergency beacon, spot locator, and three spare fuses (unless vehicle has circuit breakers)
  • Spare electrical fuses (unless vehicle has circuit breakers), three red reflective triangles, and a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher
  • Cell phone, spare batteries, and a flare
  • A fire extinguisher, spare batteries, and spare electrical fuses (unless vehicle has circuit breakers)

Check for safety equipment:

  • Spare electrical fuses (unless vehicle has circuit breakers)
  • Three red reflective triangles, 6 fuses or 3 liquid burning flares
  • Properly charged and rated fire extinguisher
This will be an important part of the vehicle inspection and they very well may ask this on the test.
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Question #48 (3 of 3)

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What should you check before you even begin a vehicle inspection?

  • Make sure no trees or signs are anywhere near the vehicle
  • Check with dispatch to see if they have anything for you
  • Make sure you are at least 100 feet from any fuel pumps
  • Check That the Parking Brakes Are On and/or Wheels Chocked
Check That the Parking Brakes Are On and/or Wheels Chocked
You don't want to get run over by your own truck! Sadly, it has happened. Many accidents have happened because drivers forget to set the parking brakes or put chocks under the wheels.
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