white tanker truck hauling palm oil

Before you set out on the road, you must perform a pre-trip inspection checklist with your truck. The standard CDL pre-trip inspection checklist ensures that you and other drivers around you remain safe. Some of the pre-trip inspection tips are common sense, while there are others you might not have thought about. Here’s what we recommend.

Why Should You Perform a Pre-Trip Inspection?


Obviously, the most important reason to do a pre-trip inspection is for your safety and the safety of those around you. If your load isn’t secure or your brakes aren’t working, one small move can change the rest of someone’s life. There’s no reason to put anyone in danger when it only takes about thirty minutes to perform a thorough check.


If you find something wrong with the truck during your pre-trip inspection, you can have the problem resolved quickly. Whether it’s time for new brakes or you find that the tires are getting low, taking care of the issue before a disaster happens will always cost you less money.


It’s your requirement as a CDL driver to ensure the vehicle is safe to drive. Legally, you must perform a pre-trip truck inspection before you hit the road. If there’s an issue, you must fill out the driver’s vehicle inspection report. Otherwise, you could face violations at an audit. You don’t want the DOT officer finding the problems while trying to get somewhere.


If you are involved in an accident, there will likely be major damage or injuries due to the size of your rig. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you could be deemed at fault because of defects to the truck. Having a pre-trip truck inspection helps to reduce your liability in these circumstances.

Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist


You must first check for fluid leaks under the truck. If there are any leaks, you want to have them fixed right away. It’s also important to check the levels of all of the fluids.

Engine Compartment

Take a look over the entire engine compartment. It’s important that all of the belts look reliable and nothing seems to have failed. You can also listen to the running engine to ensure nothing sounds unusual.

Tire Pressure

To ensure the tires keep you safe, they need to have them filled to the best PSI. Check all of the tire pressures and top them off if necessary.

Tread Depth

There should always be an adequate amount of tread depth left on the tires to ensure safe travels. If there are bubbles, gouges, cuts, or uneven tread, it’s time to think about getting new tires before hitting the road.


Check all of the reflectors and lights on the truck and trailer. You can have a friend help with this inspection to ensure that all lights and lamps are working. If a bulb stops working, replace it immediately.

Windshield Wipers

You don’t want to hit inclement weather without good windshield wipers. Replace these regularly, but you also want to check them before every trip.

Cabin Temperature

You want to be comfortable during the drive. Whether it’s the air conditioning or the heat, it’s important that the climate control is operating normally.

Emergency Kit

As a CDL operator, you are required to have an emergency kit onboard your truck at all times. Your kit should include:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Spare fuses
  • Reflective triangles
  • Red warning flags

It’s also wise to have other emergency equipment on-hand with you. Keep non-perishable foods and bottled water around in case you need to wait for someone to meet you during an emergency. A spare blanket and small tool kit can also come in handy when disaster strikes or you get stranded.


You need to see clearly while you are on the road. If the windshield is broken or cracked, it’s time to have it replaced before it impedes your vision.

Mirrors with Swivel Mounts

Your mirrors should be placed appropriately so you can see the road clearly. Take this time to adjust the mirrors so there’s nothing hidden while driving. With the swivel mounts, it’s easy to make the adjustments that are needed.

Stay Safe with Morristown Express!

We want to make sure you always remain safe on the road. If you aren’t working with a good company, your safety could be in jeopardy. Instead, partner with a team that cares about you. We work hard to make sure all of our drivers understand how to perform a pre-trip inspection. If you need more guidance, we are always here to stand by you. Together, we can ensure the road is safer, so you can work happily and without worry.

Join the Morristown Express Team!