Keeping your truck inspection-ready is a tall task but a necessary one if you want to avoid fines, dangerous accidents and even losing your CDL license. According to information put out by the CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance), inspections are important for both protecting motorists and protecting your business. Roadcheck, their annual inspection blitz, is set for June 2-4th so there is still plenty of time to make sure you are up to the set standards for vehicle safety. Inspectors will be stationed all across the country at 1,500 inspection points. This year, the CVSA and FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) have decided to focus on Cargo Securement so make sure to have due diligence for these issues. The inspection will be a full 37-step level I inspection evaluating all major maintenance points on your vehicle. We’ve assembled a quick list of tips based off the CVSA driver checklist which can be found on their website. According to the checklist, being put out of service averages $861 in expenses, not including fines and repairs!
The Inspector’s Cheat Sheet for Getting Your Vehicle Prepared for the Inspection Blitz:
1.) Start with the brakes- if they go you’re in a lot of trouble- Check for absent, damaged, loose or cracked parts. Make sure to look for the “S” camflip-over; Listen for air leaks around brake components and lines; Check that the slack adjusters are the same length (from center of “S” cam to center of clevis pin),and that the air chambers on each axle are the same size. Check brake adjustment; Ensure the air system maintains air-pressure between 90 and 100 psi; Measure push rod travel; Inspect required brake system warning devices, such as ABS malfunction lamps and low air pressure warning devices; Inspect tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer.
2.) Make Sure Your Coupling Devices are Functioning Properly – Nobody wants to look in the rear-view mirror and see open road when you’re pretty sure you picked up a trailer that morning. This means looking at the chains and upper and lower fifth wheel for loose parts, corroded components or missing parts.
3.) Fuel Leaks can Hurt Your Inspection and Your Wallet! – Plug up and look for leaks in your fuel system and fuel tank by looking for free fluids and loose components, such as your gas cap. There are devices you can purchase to help patch leaks involving the neck of your fuel tank. Learn more by clicking here.
4.) Look Out for the Lights – If you don’t drive at night much, it’s a good idea to check and make sure all of your lights are in working order. It only takes a bulb being down for a day to result in a big fine. Also, you should make sure your cab lights are not clouded or corroded. They are a major safety feature of your vehicle and required by law to be operational. Get any necessary replacements you might need in our LED light section.
5.) Check the Steering Lash – Check the steering lash by first turning the steering wheel in one direction until the tires begin to pivot. Then, place a mark on the steering wheel at a fixed reference point and then turn the wheel in the opposite direction until the tires again start to move. Mark the steering wheel at the same fixed reference point and measure the distance between the two marks. This amount can vary based on the diameter of your steering wheel.
6.) Inspect the Tires, Hubs and Rims – A blown tire is a scary, but unavoidable, speed bump in the life of any driver. Proper tire and wheel care can reduce the chances of a major issue, so don’t neglect the rubber underneath you. Tire should be checked for proper inflation, cuts and tread groove depth. Wheels need to be inspected for missing lugs, studs and clamps, cracks and bends. Check the hubs for lubricant leaks, missing caps or plugs, misalignment and positioning, and damaged, worn or missing parts. A tire pressure monitoring system can help speed up this process by tipping you off to costly leaks early.
Another helpful way to monitor your vehicle’s health is to have accurate digital gauges for things like, load weight, transmission temperature and air pressure. Quality gauges can help spot problems before they become critical issues.
Following these tips could save you from a potential financial meltdown. Nobody wants to be out of their truck for longer than they have to and having a solid maintenance plan is one of the best ways to insure you stay on the road. A self inspection is no replacement for an expert opinion though, so make sure to have your vehicle looked at by a certified diesel technician and set a scheduled maintenance schedule based on your vehicles specific needs. Good luck everyone and drive safe this June!