A driver-vehicle inspection report -- known better as a pre-trip inspection -- is designed to ensure a vehicle is in good working order and safe to take out on the road. Federal law requires a daily inspection, as well as a report to document the inspection, but does not require drivers to use any specific form. So what exactly are you looking for during a pre-trip inspection? These vital safety inspections have several key components.
Check the Engine Compartment
The engine compartment check includes an inspection with the vehicle turned off. Drivers should look for any and all problems with the engine, its parts, or the area under the hood.
The law requires them to inspect:
- belt driven alternator
- belt driven water pump
- brake chamber
- brake drum
- brake lining
- brake hose
- coolant reservoir
- caste nuts
- cotter pins
- gear box
- drag link
- leaf springs
- lug nuts
- any leaks
- oil level
- pitman arm
- shock absorber
- push rod
- slack adjuster
- steering column
- spring hanger
- steer tire
- tie rod
Cab Check and Engine Start
With the engine running, drivers must check the cab while monitoring for any problems while the engine is running. One often-overlooked area is the cleanliness of the cab itself. An unclean cab presents a serious hazard because any loose items can become projectiles in the event of a crash or sudden stop.
Other things drivers are required to check include:
- seat belt, including whether it buckles securely and whether there are any signs of fraying
- air pressure gauges
- emergency equipment, including opening and inspecting the emergency box, not just checking to ensure it is present
- lighting indicators
- oil pressure gauge
- water temperature gauge
- windshield washers and wipers
Any unusual sounds with the engine, odors associated with starting the vehicle, rattling sounds, or other signs of mechanical trouble must be noted on the inspection form.
Large vehicles are more dependent on their brakes than small cars, because these vehicles must be able to quickly and safely stop. A brake check is critical for safety, since even minor brake issues can become life-threatening.
Be sure to check:
- the airbrake
- the parking brake
- the service brake
Much of the brake check is part of the external cab check, and the brakes should not be considered safe until the external cab check fully inspects them.
The external cab check reveals much about how the vehicle is operating. Check for obvious broken parts, or signs that there might be internal wear and tear -- things like rusting wheel rims or dents in the hood.
Important components of the external cab check include:
- checking the suspension, including springs, mounts, and shock absorbers
- external brake components, including slack adjusters, brake hoses, brake lines, brake chambers, drum brake or rotor, and brake linings
- wheels, including rims, lug nuts, tires, spacers, axles, and axle seals
- the side of the car, including battery box and exhaust system, drive shaft, frame, fuel tank, doors, and mirrors
- doors, ties, lifts, and splash guards at the rear of the vehicle
- tractor and coupling components, including catwalk, mounting bolts, locking jaws, electric and air lines, locking pins, platform, release arm, and kingpin, apron, and gap
Problems with the trailer can be extremely dangerous. Not only do they pose a threat to the driver and other motorists. Trailer issues can also endanger the load a driver is hauling, costing time and money.
Be sure to check:
- lifts, doors, and ties
- landing gear
- locking pins and tandem release arm
Custom Checklists: Why the Bare Minimum Legal Requirements Aren’t Enough
You know you have to complete DVIR checklists before your vehicles can legally go on the road. But the push to comply with the law can distract from a more fundamental goal: the need to keep drivers safe, to protect motorists, and to keep your vehicle's operating soundly for as long as possible.
So don’t focus solely on meeting the minimum threshold. Consider how custom checklists can promote better safety and a healthier work environment. For example, simply blocking the wheels during an inspection with the engine running can prevent catastrophes. By adding this item to your checklist, you increase the likelihood that drivers will actually do it.
Likewise, providing specific instructions-- “kick the wheels; note any rust”-- you increase driver compliance well above that which you could expect with a simple list of items to inspect. You need custom checklists that drivers can understand and follow quickly and efficiently. That’s precisely what Whip Around offers.
Other Inspection Requirements
It’s not enough to simply check off a few boxes and put a vehicle on the road. Indeed, the law specifically forbids such cursory checks. A pre-trip inspection requires the driver to completely check each component of the vehicle, note any problems on the form, and then submit the form. From there, any defects must be repaired before the vehicle can be taken back on the road.
Failure to repair defects can cost a company dearly. If there is an incident with the car, then your failure to repair defects could give rise to lawsuits, fines, and bad publicity. Additionally, investigators may request copies of DVIRs from immediately before any incidents. If these forms indicate cursory checks or are not available, your company could be in trouble.
Why Going Digital is the Solution
Whip Around allows companies to build custom DVIR forms that are elegant, simple, and easy to follow for drivers and managers alike. Our digital approach makes inspections easy, allows you to assign repairs to mechanics, and assists you to track repairs so you can plan schedules and deliveries.
Better still, we end the pile of paper that may have taken over your office. By going digital, you’ll gain access to searchable forms that reveal important information about your vehicle's’ history. If you need a form, it’s readily available -- no more stress, no more fines, and no more paper.