For each and every person on the road, a pre-trip checklist can be one of the most important parts of a road trip. This is particularly applicable in the case of truckers or anyone pulling a trailer. And though everyone can benefit from executing a pre-trip checklist before embarking on an excursion of any substantial length, we’re going to look specifically at the checklist for semi-truck drivers. With the loads that these trucks pull on a regular basis, trip preparation is of the utmost importance.
First, Check under the Hood
- Check for tightness of caps – i.e., power steering fluid, oil filler, radiator. Also make sure that the dipstick is situated appropriately.
- Any kind of leakage can be a present or potential problem, so look for any fluid leaks – i.e., power steering fluid, coolant, fuel, oil.
- Fluid levels should be checked – coolant and oil levels.
Time to Look a Little Deeper
- Check for proper lubrication and wear – i.e., kingpins, ball joints, shock absorbers.
- Check for nails, uneven wear, etc. on steering axle tires.
- Make sure that the wiper fluid level is full.
- Wiring – are any wires out of place or are there bare or exposed wires?
- How does the fan look? Are the blades free of chips or missing pieces?
- Take a close look at the engine block – is there any fluid running down the engine sides which would point to a leak? How are the hoses? Are they frayed, cracking, or worn? Fan belts should show no significant signs of wear and be at the proper tension.
Tires, Trailer, Brakes, and More
- Are there any indications that the brakes need adjustment? Are they properly positioned?
- How is the thickness of your brake pads?
- Trailer suspension – no broken springs / airbags are up.
- How is your landing gear? Crank handle should be secure. Legs should be secure and up.
- Make sure the fifth wheel is coupled to the trailer.
- Check for proper connections involving the electrical cord and the air lines with a visual inspection.
- Closely inspect each and every tire on the trailer and the rig.
- Once these are done, look over everything with a top to bottom and side to side scan – you’re basically looking for body damage.
Start Up the Tow Vehicle
- In neutral, start the engine after depressing the clutch. Is the electrical system charging and is the oil pressure good? Slowly ease out the clutch and idle at 650 RPM for a while – don’t high idle right away.
- Are all belts turning properly and do they have the right tension?
- Do another visual check for leaks on the motor.
- Check to make sure that all lights and flashers are working.
- Make sure that all gauges read correctly, and that pressure is building where appropriate.
- When finished, close and lock down the hood.
Included here should be a check of the brake lights and listening for air leaks while someone else depresses the brake pedal.
Back up a little bit just to make sure that all wheels are turning (trailer and tow vehicle). To ensure that it’s working properly, pull the trailer brake. Is the fifth wheel correctly coupled? Pull ahead a little more and test your foot brake.
Naturally, any problems that you notice during this check should be seen to immediately.
You don’t have to be a mechanic to run through this checklist; simply have good working knowledge of your vehicle/trailer. When you need more expertise, however, the service technicians at Mickey Genuine Parts service centers are at the ready. For your convenience, we have numerous locations situated throughout the United States. To find the one closest to you, click here.
And when you need parts, accessories, new or used trailers, etc., who better to purchase them from than Mickey Genuine Parts? Contact us today to see how we can be of assistance to you regarding your trailer/transportation needs.