Your official CDL pre-trip inspection checklist

Maintaining safety and compliance in the trucking and transportation industry is of utmost importance for your success. A crucial aspect of ensuring safe operations is conducting a thorough pre-trip inspection before every trip. In this article, we’ll provide you with an official CDL (Commercial Driver's License) pre-trip inspection checklist. By following this checklist, trucking companies can equip their drivers with a comprehensive guide to assess their vehicles' condition and address potential issues proactively.

What is a CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist? 

A CDL pre-trip inspection checklist is a systematic procedure that drivers perform to evaluate the operational readiness and safety of their commercial vehicles before hitting the road. This essential process allows drivers to identify any potential mechanical, structural, or safety-related concerns that could compromise the vehicle's performance or pose a risk on the road.

The CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Process:

External Inspection:

  • Check the condition of the vehicle's body, lights, mirrors, and reflectors.
  • Inspect headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights for proper functioning.
  • Ensure all reflectors are clean, intact, and visible.
  • Inspect tires for proper inflation, tread depth, and signs of damage.
  • Examine the brake system, including hoses, lines, and connections.
  • Assess the condition of the coupling devices and securement mechanisms.
  • Verify the exhaust system is working and ensure it is properly mounted.

Wheel System Inspection:

  • Inspect the condition of the wheels, rims, and lug nuts.
  • Check for any signs of cracks, dents, or damage.
  • Ensure lug nuts are properly tightened.
  • Verify there are wheel chocks or blocks and that they’re in good condition.

Engine Compartment:

  • Check the engine oil level, coolant level, and power steering fluid level.
  • Inspect the engine belts for tightness and signs of wear.
  • Examine the battery connections and ensure they are secure.
  • Verify the presence and condition of the air compressor and associated components.

Inside the Cab:

  • Test the functionality of the horn, windshield wipers, and washers.
  • Verify the proper operation of all lights, gauges, and controls.
  • Inspect the condition of the seatbelt and adjust it for proper fit.
  • Examine the windshield for any cracks or obstructions that would impair visibility.


  • Inspect the trailer's body, including doors, hinges, and latches.
  • Check the condition of the landing gear, support legs, and fifth wheel.
  • Verify the proper functioning of the trailer's electrical and air brake systems.
  • Examine how secure the cargo is and the restraint systems.

Who has to do a CDL pre-trip inspection? 

Every commercial driver with a Class A CDL is required to perform a pre-trip inspection before every trip. This includes drivers operating semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial vehicles. Compliance with this requirement ensures that drivers have a comprehensive understanding of their vehicle's condition and are prepared to address any issues that may arise during their journey.

CDL pre-trip inspection test

To demonstrate proficiency in conducting a pre-trip inspection, drivers are often required to pass a CDL pre-trip inspection test. This examination evaluates a driver's knowledge and ability to identify potential safety hazards, ensuring they possess the necessary skills to operate commercial vehicles safely.

The CDL pre-trip inspection checklist serves as a vital tool for trucking companies and their drivers to maintain safety and compliance in the transportation industry. By following the systematic steps outlined in this checklist, drivers can proactively identify and address potential issues before they escalate into more significant problems. Implementing a comprehensive pre-trip inspection process helps ensure that commercial vehicles are roadworthy and reduces the risk of accidents and breakdowns. By prioritizing safety through regular inspections, trucking companies can demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their drivers and the communities they serve.

Remember, a thorough pre-trip inspection is not just a legal requirement but an essential practice that enhances safety and professionalism in the trucking industry.

If you’re looking to streamline your trucking business’ operations, Rose Rocket could be your solution. As the #1 rated TMS, one of our team members would be happy to speak with you. Get started below and book a demo!

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