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Class A CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist & Guide

Truck Driver Academy / Blog  / Class A CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist & Guide

Class A CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist & Guide

Before heading out on a route, it’s extremely important that you inspect your truck. This is not only a requirement but also essential in keeping you and others safe on the road. If you’re in the process of studying for your CDL exam, you’re probably trying to figure out how to remember all the pre-trip inspection items and wondering how you’ll check all those items before every trip. Fear not! While memorizing these inspection items is necessary for the test, your pre-trip inspection will likely be a little bit shorter on a daily basis.

Not sure what is essential to look at during your CDL pre-trip inspection? Check out our CDL pre-trip inspection checklist below for a concise list of the main items you’ll need to look at before every trip. This list is not exhaustive though, so be sure to add anything that may be specific to your truck.

CDL Pre-Trip Inspection List

While the DOT isn’t explicit with which items drivers are required to inspect during their pre-trip inspection, it is important to take a look at the following items:

  • Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
  • Parking (hand) brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear-vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

Your company may have additional requirements, but the items listed above are all necessary to include in your daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR). Your DVIR should be completed post-trip, but it’s beneficial to review all list items prior to setting off on your trip as well.

When completing a Class A CDL pre-trip inspection, here is a more detailed list of items that you should check. Again, it’s important to note that these are not the only items you should be checking – this is just a good starting point.

Under the Hood

  • Fluid Levels (including oil, coolant, and windshield washer fluid)
  • Fluid Leaks
  • Damage to Hoses and Belts
  • Damage to Wiring
  • Steering Shaft
  • Water Pump
  • Alternator
  • Air Compressor

Side of Cab

  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • Mirrors
  • Doors
  • Lights and Turn Signals
  • Fuel Cap and Tank
  • Steps

Rear of Cab

  • Air Line
  • Electrical Cord
  • Frame
  • Drive Shaft

5th Wheel

  • Pivot Pin and Slider Lock Pins
  • 5th Wheel Platform
  • Release Arm

Front of Trailer

  • Inspection Sticker
  • Registration
  • Clearance Lights
  • PM Sticker
  • Height Sticker
  • Header Board

Side of Trailer

  • Top Rail
  • Clearance and Bottom Lights
  • Landing Gear

Back of Trailer

  • Doors (including hinges, latches, and seals)
  • Bumper
  • License Plate
  • Lights


  • Gauges
  • Mirrors
  • Seatbelt
  • Horn

As time goes on, you’ll become more and more comfortable with completing a pre-trip inspection. Don’t let yourself get too comfortable though. These inspections are extremely important and require the utmost care and attention. If you don’t complete a thorough inspection, you’re putting yourself and others at risk, so treat each inspection with the same attention to detail.

If you want to learn more about conducting a pre-trip inspection and what you should be looking for when inspecting each of the items above, our CDL training covers everything you need to know. Get started on your CDL training today!