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Thread: Pre-Trip Inspection Important

  1. Default Pre-Trip Inspection Important

    If there’s a rule of thumb in maintaining a Class 8 truck, hands down it would be consistency and thoroughness in doing pre-trip inspections, say two truck service experts.

    From a maintenance standpoint, “there’s no single more important moment in your daily routine than the pre-op inspection,” said Terry Trexler, new and used truck service manager for Barloworld Freightliner in North Little Rock, Ark.

    And, it’s not what truckers miss in their pre-trip inspections, he said, “it’s whether they do the walk-around” at all.

    If a trucker is fairly close to his next stop, he may put the inspection off until his destination, Trexler said. But putting off a pre-trip could be costly to a driver and his company.

    “It’s hard to put a dollar figure on it; the variables are endless,” said Trexler, “but I’ll say if the truck breaks down on the side of the road it costs a whole heck of a lot more than if the driver had it taken care of at his home shop. You’ve got the towing charges and then there’s the charge of the repair station and the lost hours.”

    Other charges can stem from getting the truck out of impoundment if it’s placed out of service after failing a Department of Transportation inspection, not to mention the safety factors involved.

    Elvis Yarbrough, assistant service manager for Barloworld, said often-overlooked include wheel seals, because that takes getting down on your knees with a flashlight. Proper tire inflation is another, said Trexler, and Yarbrough added that on two different makes of tires with two different tread patterns, a tire thumper is not sufficient to tell which is inflated to 100 pounds and which one is inflated at 75 pounds.

    The important thing about truck maintenance, Yarbrough said, is that “nothing is a surprise.” A lot could be missed; the driver must know what he or she is looking for, he said. For example, some hoses crack and some don’t; sometimes it’s necessary to be hands-on and feel the hose to see if it’s hard or brittle.

    A restriction gauge, used to monitor air filter efficiency, might be located under the hood, or could be in the dash. Once found, reading it is pretty obvious, it’s either on the red or yellow line, Yarbrough said.

    Anyone who has a Commercial Driver’s License, should know what to look for on a pre-trip, but it’s all different from book knowledge once the driver gets out on the road, said Trexler.

    When getting his CDL he said “we only spent two days on pre-op inspections. That’s not really enough, because we’re talking two times in a 16-week course. I don’t think they [truck driving schools] teach it much.”

    Yarbrough said that’s where driving teams are invaluable. “The old hands teach the new ones,” agreed Trexler.

    “A lot of it is common sense, just looking under the hood to see if you’ve got all your belts,” Yarbrough noted. While the hood is raised, be sure to look at hoses, clamps and check for air, water and exhaust leaks, Trexler said. It’s a dead give-away for oil filter or air filter trouble if a driver notices a loss of performance, or if there’s a decrease in power, he said.

    Another red flag is if the driver has to constantly add coolant. “Some drivers will just keep adding coolant or worse, add water, which is a big no-no,” said Trexler. He said having to add coolant is symptomatic of a leak and should never be ignored.

    Also overlooked is the air-bag suspension. “You need to know what you’re looking for; usually you can eye-ball it,” said Yarbrough. “There is a measurement but just to know if you have air in it, you can look and tell.”

    Some equipment doesn’t have to be checked on a pre-trip but should be checked by number of miles and/or the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance intervals.

    With fleets, said Trexler, the company takes care of maintenance, whereas the owner-operator must keep up with his own mileage unless he’s leased on to a fleet. Customarily, Yarbrough said, the fuel filter is checked with the oil change and the air filter is checked at the same time.

    While some companies download information from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM) to see if fault codes have been activated, which would denote a problem, Yarbrough and Trexler don’t see a time when drivers can do all their own trouble-shooting.

    Yarbrough said there’s only one piece of software he knows of that can read all fault codes, and Trexler said “school’s still out” on it.

    Basically, they agreed, the best way to prevent trouble is the pre-trip walk-around, a hands-on inspection that takes time and gets the driver dirty.

    “Just getting the driver to do it is the important thing,” emphasized Trexler. He said a lot depends on the time of day, the weather and other factors, but that the pre-trip inspection should really be done no matter the inconvenience or time involved.

    After all he pointed out, what’s that time spent compared with the average wait time of three- and-a-half hours when a truck is sidelined on the road?

    Then there’s the time spent taking the rig back to the shop and time in the shop, and some states won’t tow tractor and trailer at the same time so there’s the added expense of two wreckers, Trexler said. And, all the while the truck is not operating, the driver and his company are losing money.

    Other things for the driver to inspect or have taken care of by his mechanic include:

    • Checking bypass and full-flow filters to keep clogging particles and contaminants out of engine lubricating fluid

    • Making sure water isn’t leaking into the fuel tank

    • Spec’ing the right air filter to keep out the maximum [recommended 98 percent] of airborne dirt and monitoring the pressure present when air goes through the filter (where the restriction gauge can come in handy)

    • Making sure the engine cooling system is free from rust and scale, which can form from using too much or too little supplemental coolant additive

    • Checking belt tension and pulley function and

    • Careful inspection of hoses, mounting tubes and clamps.

  2. #2
    Lonleyboy_515 Guest


    I agree with that . A good PRE TRIP takes more than 15 min. I see a lot of drivers in Truck Stops that wake up & leave.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    I see that too LB. How can you just get up & start driving without doing your pre trip?
    By doing a good pre trip, you could save a lot of time, & lives. This allowes you to catch anything that may not be right. I think 30 min's works for a pt.

    no sir I wasn't speeding, I was qualifying


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    British Columbia/Canada(Vancouver)

    Default Hey Harry

    Please read my thread on pre trips drivers round table you'll find that interesting I took a course at a C D school class 1 and out of 22 hours of driving i got 1 hour of pre trip experience so I fail my pre trip exam now i have to pay again to re take the test.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Here's a copy of the pre-trip you're supposed to do each and every day. I had to take an upgrading course to get my class 1 back. I couldn't pass the physical after a wreck I was in back in '88 and I reverted back to a class 5.

    When you take your practical test you have to verbalize this whole pre-trip as your doing it. You have 45 min to do the pre-trip and if you go over, you can be failed on it and you don't get to do the driving part of the test.

  6. #6
    Accremonious Guest


    QUOTE: If there’s a rule of thumb in maintaining a Class 8 truck, hands down it would be consistency and thoroughness in doing pre-trip inspections, say two truck service experts. UNQUOTE.
    I partially disagree, it should read ALL CLASSES of commercial vehicle including busses, off road and on road from class 5 to class 8 and special OD units, WITH NO EXCEPTIONS! While Class 8 does make up a greater percentage of the traffic by numbers they are no more or less important than any of the other classes, if I may be so testy!

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    I'll have to say I was impressed with the professionalism that they have at Valley. That's where I did my recent refresher course. The pre-trip was one of the hardest things to get through. The instructor there (Al Roberts) has a website of his own, with lots of tips and video about class 1. He has made a video of CD of the whole pre-trip that can be purchased for $20.00. It's well worth it too. It walks you through the hole deal in an orderly fashion so you don't make any mistakes or at leased make fewer of them. There's quite a few vids of driving techniques for the novice also. Here's a link to Al's website.


  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Powell River B,C.


    I went through the Valley driving school, great bunch of guys, patient and understanding, very helpful.
    in the beginning I didn't think I'd make it, I couldn't get the hang of double clutching but in the end I did it. I've been driving for 10+ yrs now, mostly heavy hauling and demo work, it's been fun.

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