What is a Truck Inspection Checklist?

A truck inspection checklist is a vital document to have when you get your truck inspected before your journey, or when you do the inspection yourself. This is used by commercial drivers to make sure that their truck is suitable for road use and is compliant with all safety regulations. It makes the inspection task much more streamlined and it makes sure that you don’t miss a component or part that may turn out to be defective, and in turn saves you and the truck from trouble, whether being a deadweight stuck on the side of the highway, or getting pulled over and receiving a ticket from the law enforcement for being non-compliant with safety standards.

Why Should You Get Your Truck Inspected?

Safety is one of the most important reasons why you should get it done. Just because you’ve never had any trouble driving your truck on the highway, does not mean that you should not get your truck inspected. By also having your truck inspected, you save more than just money, you also have the potential to save your life and that of the other drivers around you, and from the scathing remarks that you could receive from your boss should your shipment get delayed due to your truck having a breakdown.

What Are Some Examples of Trucks?

The trucks that drive on the highway come in different shapes and sizes. Here are some common examples of trucks you may encounter on the road.

Semi-Trailer Truck: These trucks are the most popular example that you see on the road. Semi-trailer trucks are used to carry most common transportation needs. These trucks can be loaded from the back, both sides, and from the top. They are most suited for transporting palleted cargo. Due to the complexity in operating these vehicles, a special type of license is required should a driver wish to operate this kind of truck.Flatbed truck: The bodywork of this truck is just a flat, level bed without any roof present. The cargo being transported in a flatbed truck is secured to the back by the means of tying it down with ropes. This kind of design allows for quick and easy loading of cargo. Also, abnormal goods that require more space than that of a closed body truck usually make use of a flatbed.Cement Truck: Also called a cement mixer truck, this is a truck with a cement mixer attached to it. These vehicles are specially designed to mix concrete and transport it to the construction site. The mixing occurs while the truck is travelling.Pickup Truck: This is a really popular light-duty truck. It is a vehicle that uses a body-on-frame design. This kind of design enables the main vehicle to be separate from the chassis and the cargo bay located at the back. This is mostly used as a passenger vehicle in the North American area.Fire Truck: Also called a fire engine, this truck is built to carry firefighters as well as equipment needed to put out a fire. They can have different specializations, such as for wildfire, or aircraft fire and rescue. They can also be made to carry technical rescue equipment.Tow Truck: Also known as a breakdown lorry, a tow truck is used to move or retrieve a vehicle that is impounded, broken down on the side of the street, improperly parked, or if it has been involved in an accident and is immobilized. It differs from a car lorry because a car lorry is used to move multiple vehicles for transport purposes only.Tanker: These trucks usually get their name from the huge tanks that are attached to their rear. These vehicles are designed to carry liquids or gases, and are usually difficult to drive, and are very dangerous when involved in collisions due to the type of load they carry. Examples include oil tankers, water tankers, and compressed gas tankers.Dump truck: These trucks are also commonly referred to as production trucks, or in their short name which is a dumper. They transport materials such as dirt, gravel, sand, which are common materials used for construction. They sometimes carry coal and waste to be transported to landfills. They have a hydraulically operated, hinged open box located at the back, which is used to “dump” the cargo on the ground behind the truck at the delivery site.

What is the DOT Truck Inspection Checklist?

This is a standardized safety checklist used by the Department of Transportation for inspecting trucks. This is divided into six levels.

Step by Step Process in Creating a Truck Inspection Checklist

Here are the steps you can follow should you decide to make your own truck inspection checklist:

1. Know the type of truck that will be inspected.

Before even creating the checklist, it is important that you know about the type of truck to be inspected, whether if it is a flatbed truck, a semi-trailer truck, a dump truck, a food truck, or a firetruck. This is done because different trucks have components and parts that are unique to them (a firetruck has a siren equipped while a dump truck does not). The research plan is also done to avoid any unnecessary confusion when conducting the check itself.

2. Planning for the checklist.

When you are satisfied with the research and the familiarization process you’ve done on the truck, you should begin planning the checklist. Planning on making a detailed format is usually recommended for trucks, as it can involve travelling long distances or handling sensitive cargo. If possible, you can also plan to have a road test checklist included to be more thorough with your test.

3. Creation of the checklist.

Once the familiarization and research of the type of truck are done, it is time to create the checklist. It can be written by hand or digitally encoded, depending on your preference. Here, the items necessary in the checklist are included, such as the vehicle and owner’s information, the parts and components to be inspected and tested, as well as anything that is unique to that specific type of truck. You can also have a detailed sketch of the truck drawn on the checklist if you prefer. You should also leave space for feedback and a safety observation report, in case you would still like to make the checklist yourself but prefer an authorized person to perform the inspection. Depending on your preference, you can also turn it into a questionnaire checklist.

4. Verify the checklist.

When the creation of the checklist is done, make sure to verify it with the information that is researched, to make sure that it is correct and nothing of importance is overlooked. You should also check if there are parts that do not belong to the truck that you may have accidentally included. If you hand it over to an authorized inspector, it is also important to let him/her know about the parts and components that you have included in the inspection checklist, so he/she can also verify your created checklist and also to avoid any confusion.

When everything else is done, prepare the truck’s necessary papers as well as your own, so the inspection process can begin.


How often should you inspect or get your truck inspected?

The inspection process should be done before operating the truck. A simple visual walkaround inspection performed on the truck can help the driver assess for hazards around the truck’s vicinity, such as other people, stray pets, potholes, foreign objects, and other vehicles. These can prove to be a concern whenever the driver starts using the truck for operations.

Do I really need to inspect the truck prior to operation?

Yes, it is recommended that you do so. You should take time to perform an inspection before venturing out the road/highway, as any defects or irregularities found on your truck during inspection can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. If you operate the vehicle uninspected, there is a chance that something as simple as a broken blinker or brake light can turn your truck into a rolling hazard and is guaranteed to land you in trouble with the authorities.

Do I need a license to perform truck inspections?

There are no requirements that you should be licensed to do truck inspections, but proper certification is needed. A specific training program concerning truck inspections is to be completed, and you should have prior experience as a truck mechanic or a federal or state inspector. If a truck is due to undergo its annual DOT inspection, then a DOT inspector will perform it. Sometimes, you will also deal with state troopers, the CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance), and a member of the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association), which is the safety organization that oversees and funds all inspections in the United States.

It is absolutely necessary to make sure that your truck has no problems prior to operation. As you notice a minor discrepancy, you should get it fixed as soon as you can to avoid that small problem snowballing into a much bigger one. It is also recommended to get it inspected and maintained during intervals to keep it in top shape. Having a checklist for this process will definitely help make sure that everything is fine. If you are in need of an example checklist, there are templates listed above this article that you can use as a guide.