FREE South Carolina CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test 2024 | SC

Looking to receive your pre-trip inspection endorsement? The best place to start your journey is right here with our free South Carolina CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test. Earning your pre-trip inspection endorsement will demonstrate to potential employers that you have the inspection knowledge to help ensure your safety as well as the safety of the drivers you share the road with. Our practice test includes 30 questions similar to these: For manual slack adjusters, what must you check that doesn’t move more than one inch (with the brakes released) when pulled by hand? What should you check to see that it is secure, free of damage, and strong enough to contain cargo (if equipped)?

To pass this pre-trip inspection practice test, you need to achieve a score of 80% or more. Our test questions are drawn from the South Carolina CDL Handbook and are multiple choice in format just like on the real test. You will be given four possible answers and you will be required to select the correct one. Our practice test covers the very same subjects found on the real exam to ensure you have the best possible study aid available. In fact, many of our questions are so similar to the real thing that they could possibly show up on test day! Take the test now to get familiar with the content and format of the real test before you visit the DMV. Get started.

South Carolina CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Overview:

Get the latest (2024) official SC CDL Manual.

Select Another SC CDL Practice Test

  • General Knowledge Test 1
  • General Knowledge Test 2
  • General Knowledge Test 3
  • SC CDL Air Brakes Test 1
  • SC Combination Vehicles Test 1
  • SC CDL HazMat Test 1
  • SC CDL Tanker Vehicles Test 1
  • SC Double/Triple Trailers Test 1
  • SC Passenger Vehicles Test 1
  • SC CDL School Bus Test 1
  • SC CDL Pre Trip Inspection Test 1 (you are here)
  • General Knowledge Test Simulator
  •    Help center
  •    Send email
  • Premium Login
  •    Car
  •    CDL (Commercial Vehicles)
  •    Motorcycle
  • Last-Minute DMV Tips
  • Driving Tips
  • Help Center

Your Progress

  • 0   Incorrect ( 4 allowed to pass )
  • 0   Correct
  • Answer popularity
  • Font size Default A A
  • Keyboard shortcuts Shift + ?

How to Pass The First Time

  • Practice with the Free tests
  • Unlock 67 Premium tests
  • Review our Premium Cheat Sheets

or we return 100% of your money

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

  • Back to  all tests
  • View  Handbook

SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test 2024

  • Perfect for first-time and renewal CDL/CLP applicants, and those adding endorsements
  • Based on 2024 SC commercial driver's license manual
  • Triple-checked for accuracy
  • Updated for June 2024

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

About this test

Do you think you are prepared to take the SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Exam? If you are not sure if you’ll pass, it is a really bad idea to go to the DMV and take the exam. You could fail it, and that will make it difficult for you to maintain your job. It is much better to prepare ahead of time by taking our CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test. It will make it much easier for you to go into the SC DMV and pass with flying colors.

Learn from Your Wrong Answers

You might not get each answer correct the first time, and that is fine. You can learn from the answers that you miss. When you miss a question, the test will let you know. It will highlight the correct option so you can make a note of it. This will let you know what you need to study up on. For instance, you might not know anything about checking the oil level, so you might miss a question about that subject. That will let you know that you need to go back through your SC manual and review that section before you go to the DMV.

Prepare for Exam Day

When you finally get all of the practice test questions correct, you’ll know that you are ready for test day. At that point, don’t put it off. There is no sense in putting it off any longer. You’re now ready to go to the DMV. You should have a lot of confidence now since you have practiced here. The tests are very similar, so there is no reason to think that you won’t do the same thing on the official exam.

So, now it’s time to buckle down and get ready for big day. Begin with the practice test, paying attention to each question that you face. After you make it through the practice test, you’ll finally be ready to go to the DMV and take the real thing.

Thoroughly prepare for your CDL Pre-Trip Inspection with our detailed guide, offering step-by-step procedures and essential tips at our Pre-Trip Inspection section .

What to expect on the actual SC CDL exam

correct answers to pass

passing score

Helpful links

SC DMV website

Official South Carolina CDL manual (2024)

More SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Exam Resources

  • SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Test
  • SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Test 2
  • SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Test 3
  • SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Test 4
  • SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Marathon
  • SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Exam Simulator

Your trusted source for driver education

Our commitment to accuracy and quality in our practice tests.

Explore our rigorous, multi-tiered verification process that ensures each question mirrors the official manual for unparalleled accuracy.

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

At, we understand the importance of reliable and accurate practice tests to help you prepare for your DMV exam. That's why we've developed a meticulous process to create and continually update our practice questions, ensuring they reflect the most current driving laws and regulations.

Here's an inside look at how we maintain the highest quality in our practice tests.

Content Creation and Verification Process

  • Alignment with Official Manuals: Every question we develop is based on the most recent version of each state's official driving manual. Our team regularly monitors each state DMV's website for the latest updates to ensure our practice tests are always aligned with the most current information.
  • Community Feedback Integration: We leverage feedback from our vast community of users to understand which topics are most frequently tested. This helps us focus on the areas that are most relevant and beneficial for your preparation.
  • Expert Content Creation: Our in-house editor, Steven , who has extensive experience in driver education, crafts each question with precision. He conducts a thorough review of each question against the official manuals to ensure accuracy.
  • Rigorous Review Process: Once Steven has finalized a set of questions, our team conducts a joint review session. This second level of scrutiny involves content accuracy, proofreading, and fact-checking to eliminate any errors.
  • User Feedback Mechanism: After a question goes live on our site, we keep the lines of communication open. Each question features a feedback button, inviting users to report any issues or errors. This continuous feedback loop allows us to address and rectify any concerns promptly.
  • Responsive Updates: In line with our commitment to accuracy, we quickly update our practice questions to reflect any changes in the DMV manuals. Additionally, we update the free electronic copy of the state's driver's license manuals on our site, typically within a few days after the DMV publishes them.

Our thorough quality control process ensures that you have access to practice tests that are as accurate and up-to-date as possible. We believe in the power of well-prepared drivers and are dedicated to providing you with the best study tools to help you succeed on your DMV exam.

Keyboard shortcuts

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

Try Driving-Tests Premium

Pass the knowledge test the first time, guaranteed.

Pass Guarantee

How does it work.

Our Premium Membership comes with a Pass Guarantee (30-day access and longer). If you successfully complete all the practice tests for your province/territory, we promise you a passing grade on your official written knowledge test or we'll refund your money. Your most recent completion of all the tests should be not earlier than 30 days before your exam date.

Just send us an email with your full name (must match the name and email address used for your purchase at within 30 days from the purchase of your Premium membership. 

What happens next

We'll check your account to make sure you've successfully completed all practice tests for your state. Once that is confirmed, we'll issue a full refund (you'll receive a separate email confirmation).

cota systems fright shipping platform

Best Free CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist | Trucker Safety & Profit

Best Free CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist | Trucker Safety & Profit

Table of Contents

The indispensable CDL pre trip inspection checklist is one of the most important rituals of a driver's day. Industry veterans know this routine like the back of their hands—it's that vital to the trade— but new drivers struggle with how to remember their CDL pre trip inspections, especially for the exam.

Drivers are required to complete this walkthrough at least every 24 hours, after their mandatory 10-hour break. A detailed inspection can safeguard not only your safety but also that of everyone else on the road.

This article will walk you through an exhaustive checklist to follow before every trip, as well as the potential costs of not doing so. We've designed this list with YOU in mind, so we're throwing in some money-making tips that will help you avoid steep fines and costly repairs.

"Spotting and fixing vehicle defects early on keeps you safe and your truck in good shape."

cdl pre trip inspection checklist

Why Following the CDL Pre-Inspection Checklist is So Important

The price of a failed DOT inspection makes completing a thorough CDL pre trip inspection checklist even more pressing. Violations can cost carriers thousands each year in both penalties and out-of-service (OOS) trucks. According to the FMCSA, around 20% of vehicles are OOS due to failed inspections at any given time. For an owner-operator, this means you'd be paying thousands in vehicle payments on a truck that's not earning you any money.

The pre trip checklist is designed to avoid any possible accidents due to equipment failure and failed safety inspections. A few minutes of caution pays for itself ten-fold down the line.

DOT & Truck Inspection

  • Steer Axle/ Rear Suspension
  • Side of Cab
  • Rear of Cab

Driver Shaft/Rear Frame

  • Trailer Front/Side/Rear- Trailer Suspension

Gauges/Inner Truck

  • DVIR form fill out
"Most pre-trip truck inspection lists cover safety. We go beyond that with time and money-saving tips in our pre-trip inspection checklist PDF." - Brian Smith, Director, Global Marketing of Cota Systems
  • Get the Google Sheet
  • Download the Printable PDF

General Tips Throughout Your Pre-Trip Inspection

Because you don't have access to a pre trip inspection checklist during the CDL exam, drivers have created a few tricks to pass this part of the test. The most common memorization tricks are:

BBC: Is any plastic or metal bent, broken, or cracked?

CDL: No hard materials should be cracked, damaged or loose.

ABC: Are there any abrasions, bulges, or cuts on the rubber?

PFL: Peak for leaks in fluid and air containers.

PMS: Are bolts properly mounted and secure?

ABCDF: Do you see abrasions, bulges, cuts, dry rot, or frays?

A bit of common sense will help you put these acronyms to good use. For example, there's no way BBC would apply to rubber, as rubber wouldn't be bent, cracked, or broken. Most drivers pick one for each material type and stick with it until they get more comfortable with the list.

What are the ABCS in a pre-trip inspection?

As mentioned above, the ABCs refer to Abrasions, Bulges, and Cuts to check for during the Class A CDL pre-trip inspection. This applies to rubber or soft surfaces - things like tires, hoses, and rubber bushings.

How Long Should a Proper CDL Checklist & Inspection Take?

Ideally, it takes 15-30 minutes to run through the CDL pre trip inspection checklist depending on experience level and whether or not any issues are found. If issues are found, they must be fixed right then, before taking any more loads.

The cost of preventative maintenance averages $15,000 per truck per year. This figure is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of inoperable equipment. Breakdowns and crashes due to mechanical failure cost carriers billions industry-wide. Consider an owner-op paying $3,500 per month on insurance and loan payments. Those payments still have to be made regardless of whether the truck is in the shop or on the road. Adds up quickly right? Spending a bit of extra time and money on prevention keeps trucks on the road and earning money.

CDL Inspection Checklist Driver

Get your Free CDL Pre-Trip Inspection checklist today!

Standard cdl pre trip inspection checklist.

Our pre-trip inspection Class A checklist serves two purposes: helping new drivers pass this portion of the CDL exam, and guiding CDL holders through the process with 100% accuracy every time.

A few exam tips before the pre-trip checklist:

  • Point to or physically touch each area being inspected. This will help your memory and prove you know your stuff.
  • Start with a big section and break it down into small sections from left to right like reading a book.
  • During the test, make at least 2 checks for every item or area.

▢ Hoses: all hoses should be secured on both ends with no splits or cuts

▢ Fluids: engine oil, washer fluid, coolants, and power steering

▢ Belts: no more than 1/2"" to 3/4"" of give, securely mounted with no fraying ends

▢ Alternator: securely mounted, belt in good shape

▢ Water pump: properly mounted with no split or leaking hoses

▢ Air compressor: securely mounted, no visible or audible leaks

If Left Unchecked:

Oil leaks and coolant issues are two of the most common breakdown causes, both of which can be spotted during pre-trip. Scheduling dry maintenance every 10,000-25,000 miles and wet maintenance every 25,000-50,000 miles can prevent most engine issues. These regular services, ranging from $50-$450 , are nothing compared to the price of replacing or rebuilding an engine - $20,000 - $40,000 . Thorough pre-trip inspections are the best way to avoid engine breakdowns and escalated damage.

engine truck inspection

▢ Brake Pads: ¼ minimum brake pad thickness

▢ Slack Adjuster: 1” of play and at a 90' angle to the brake chamber

▢ Brake Chamber : no audible leaks or visible damage

▢ Brake Hose: securely mounted, no audible leaks, splits, or cuts

▢ Brake Drum: no bluing from excessive heat, securely mounted

Brake problems are the most common cause of semi-truck accidents . While over-breaking is a big player in this, a lack of maintenance and unnoticed airline damage usually play roles, too. 

Brake pad replacement costs $150-$300 per axle ($750-$1,500 total) and $80-$160 per hour in labor. The consequences of brake failure are incalculable - body repairs, cargo damage, and strikes to your carrier safety rating will follow you. The last thing you want to deal with is higher insurance premiums or trouble getting placed on loads. Take this part of your pre-trip inspection extra seriously.

cdl class a pre trip inspection for brakes

  • Front: clearance lights, headlights, high beams, turn signals, flashers
  • Sides: turn signals, flashers, clearance lights
  • Rear: tail lights, brake lights, left turn, right turn, 4-way flashers
  • Front: clearance lights
  • Rear: clearance lights, tail lights, license plate lights, brake lights, turn signals, flashers

▢ Reflector Tape: clear, free of dirt

If Left Unchecked:  

Fines for a headlight out vary from state to state, but the consequences of non-functioning brake lights or turn signals could confuse drivers and create unsafe situations. Both of these can be spotted and fixed during a pre-trip inspection. It's easy to run to the shop and change the light yourself if possible. License plate bulbs are just a few cents, and headlight kits range from $40-$250 . Don't add the price of a ticket on top from getting pulled over!

On the topic of lights, it's important to note that warning lights like the engine light or battery alert light should be addressed immediately to avoid developing into bigger issues down the road.

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

▢ Wheel inside: not broken, no illegal welds

▢ Wheel outside: no cracks or illegal welds

▢ Tires: no cuts or bulges, air gauge matches manufacturer recommendations, tread depth at least 4/32" and evenly worn

▢ Spacing: duals are properly spaced

▢ Valve Stem: not audibly leaking. metal cap in place and secure

▢ Lug Nuts: present, tight, no cracks

▢ Hub Seal: not cracked or loose

Tire problems cause 8,000 truck accidents per year. While flats are sometimes unpreventable, blowouts can be caused by improper inflation , which can also shorten the lifespan of your tires via irregular wear and tear. Timely alignments and rotations can also keep tires running longer; the price of new big rig tires is from $250 to $600 . A tire blowout mid-load can make you miss your appointment and waste precious driving hours - all the more reason to be thorough in your truck inspection.

Something to keep in mind is the way you conduct your pre-trip checklist is important. For example, there are a lot of videos and content showing truckers how to check their tires by kicking, beating, and even using a hammer. Hitting a tire with force like that, in the right spot (damaged) can lead to a blow-up and severely injure you and your truck. Even lugging around a damaged tire can lead to a blow-up . Stay safe and take all necessary precautions!

cdl pre-trip wheel check

Steer Axle/Rear Suspension

▢ Steering Shaft: not BBC, securely mounted

▢ Steering Gear Box: not BBC, securely mounted, no visible leaks

▢ Hose: no visible leaks, properly mounted

▢ Pitman Arm: not BBC, securely mounted, nuts and pins are all hardware is present and secure

▢ Drag Link: rubber is in good shape, bushings are properly greased and not split or cut

▢ Upper/Lower Control Arms and Tie Rod: not BBC, securely mounted

▢ Spring Mounts: not BBC, securely mounted

▢ Leaf Springs:  not BBC, securely mounted, not shifted or scissored

▢ U-bolts: not BBC, securely mounted, all accounted for

▢ Shock Absorber: not BBC, securely mounted, no visible leaks, rubber bushings aren't dry rotting

If Left Unchecked: 

On their own, each of these parts isn't a huge deal to replace. For example, 

  • Steering Shafts: $100-$300
  • Pitman Arms: $50-$200
  • Steering Gear Box: $150-750
  • Shock Absorber: $50 - $90

On the other end of the spectrum, neglect can lead to the truck leaning to one side, which can cause further damage. Blown shock absorbers will also make your truck hard to handle, steer, and control. Say it takes a mechanic 3-5 days to diagnose and fix a suspension issue. You could lose out on $1,000 - $3,000 in earnings that week, plus the several hundred it will cost in repairs. Spotting these issues during your 15-minute pre-trip inspection could save you thousands.

steel axle truck inspection

▢ Mirrors: mirrors adjusted properly and without cracks, free of dirt

▢ Foot Pedals: unobstructed

▢ Horns: functioning properly

▢ Windshield: no stickers, cracks, or excessive dirt

▢ Heater/defrost: both operate when the fan is set to max

▢ Wipers: arms move properly when turned on, and wiper fluid works

▢ Steps: mounted and secured

▢ DEF cap: secured

▢ Fuel cap: gasket and vent in place, chain secures cap to the tank

▢ Skirting: no damage, panels secure

To be mid-trip and discover your defrost or wipers don't work can be a scary feeling. A suddenly obstructed view with no way to clear it is what the in cab inspection is meant to avoid.

With the average truck eating up $15,000 per year in maintenance and repairs, it's the little things that add up to such a steep number. For example, fixing a windshield can cost anywhere from $500 - $2,000, depending on the truck type and severity of damage. Wiper blades cost $14 - $35 on average, and an AC compressor would cost around $200 to fix/replace . It's easy to see how these numbers add up fast, but waiting until something breaks on the road and taking on the cost of an OOS violation can quickly double and even triple those numbers.

semi truck in cab inspection

▢ Frame: no illegal welds, not BBC, no rust

▢ Drive Shaft: not BBC, properly mounted, not twisted, and the U-joints are clean

▢ Universal joint: not BBC

▢ Differential: no leaks

Rusting frames and chassis can be prevented and stopped in their tracks with preventative protective sprays . To protect a drive shaft, keep it free of dirt and debris and make sure it's well lubricated. The price of a new driveshaft is around $1,200 . The cost of checking it during pre-trip is free. Remember, the purpose of a pre trip inspection Class A is to not only keep you safe but to spot mechanical issues before they get worse.

cdl class a pre trip inspection of driver shaft

▢ Bolts/Bracket: all accounted for and secure, not broken or bent

▢ Locking pins: all accounted for and secure, not broken or bent

▢ Release Handle: releases freely and is in the locked position.

▢ Apron: no cracks, no gap between apron and 5th wheel plate, securely fastened

▢ Skid Plate: no cracks, properly greased, securely mounted

▢ Platform: securely mounted, not cracked or broken, no illegal welds

▢ Kingpin/Locking Jaws: locking jaws are wrapped around kingpin, which is straight with no chips or welds

▢ Air Lines: securely mounted at both ends. Lines are free of cuts, no audible leaks.

▢ Electrical line: secured at both ends. Lines are free of cuts, no audible leaks.

The consequence of worn brackets or pins is accidental uncoupling, otherwise known as dropping a trailer. Not only can this cause accidents, but it can damage the trailer and the cargo inside. In these cases, the carrier is almost always liable for any damages.

fifth wheel class a pre trip inspection

▢ Header Board: properly mounted and secured, not BBC, no missing rivets

▢ Clearance lights: not loose, cracked, or dirty 

▢ Top rail: No cracks or collision damage.

▢ Rivets, holes: no holes, all rivets in place.

▢ Landing gear: properly mounted and secured, not BBC, shoes are present, handle moves freely

▢ DOT tape: covers at least 50%, not dirty or peeling

▢ Floor: no holes

▢ Cross members: none are damaged, missing, or twisting

▢ Tandem release: properly mounted and secured, not BBC

▢  Slide rail: properly mounted and secured, not BBC

▢  Pins: engaged

▢ Clearance lights: not cracked or dirty

▢ Doors: not broken, no holes, seal intact

▢ Hinges:   securely mounted, not BBC

▢ Door handles and rods: securely mounted, functioning properly

▢ Lights: securely mounted, not cracked or dirty

▢ DOT tape: clean, covers 100% of the backside of the trailer

▢ Bumper: properly secured, not BBC

The trailer keeps your precious cargo safe. Issues with the cross members, flooring, or doors leave cargo unsecured and exposed to the elements. Of this list, the most expensive fix is replacing or repairing cross members. Just one broken cross member puts a truck OOS, and repair/replacement costs thousands , mostly in labor. How can they get damaged?

  • sloppy hooking/unhooking
  • exposure to the elements
  • uneven loading
  • punctures from inside the trailer
  • blown tires

If you notice trailer damage during your Class A pre-trip inspection, you'll have to get it fixed before taking any more loads.

trailer pre-trip inspection

▢ Air pressure: set to proper operating range, no warning lights

▢ Temperature gauge: rising to proper operating range, no warnings

▢ Oil pressure: rising to proper operating range (25-50 PSI), no warnings

▢ Voltmeter: operational, 13 - 14 volts

▢ Dashboard light indicators: check the indicators for the high beams, turn signals, and flashers.

▢ Fuel: gauge matches visual compared to looking in the tank

▢ Tachometer: 1000-1500

▢ Water temperature: 180-205 degrees

▢ Def level: minimum of one light bar

If these gauges don't pass the pre trip inspection Class A checklist, it's likely due to faulty wiring or a fuse issue. You'll have to identify the source or take it to someone who can.

Simple electrical fixes can be done on your own. At a mechanic, a blown fuse costs around $100 to repair, and a full rewiring can cost anywhere from $1,000 - $2,000 .

Preventative maintenance includes replacing old connections with more modern technology and having circuit protectors checked during regular maintenance.

how to check gauge pre-trip

A DVIR, or Driver's Daily Vehicle Inspection Report, is the form that drivers fill out during the Class A pre-trip inspection and at the end of their day. It's designed to keep the company informed of any missing or damaged parts of the truck, keep maintenance costs as low as possible, and keep trucks on the road safely.

Drivers should keep their completed forms accessible and stored for up to 6 months, just in case they're asked to pull them for reference.

DVIR form post pre trip inspection checklist

Most Common Issues Found During Pre Trip Inspection

Below are the most common issues found while running through a CDL pre trip inspection checklist. If left unchecked, these things can lead to getting pulled over and receiving a violation, or worse, causing a breakdown where you or others are hurt. 

Here's a run-through of what to do if you run into these common issues and how to avoid them."

Broken Lights

What to Do:

The first of the three L's (lights, leaks, and leans), broken lights are an easy way to get pulled over and trigger a full-blown roadside inspection. If you notice an issue with one of the many lights during your truck inspection, you're required (and it's in your best interest) to get a replacement immediately.

How to Avoid This:

Obviously, there's no way to avoid lights going out. However, you can avoid faulty reflectors by getting regular washes, especially if you've driven somewhere rural or salted. Shippers appreciate a clean truck, too.

Maintenance as a Money Saver:

Lighting violations are known as ""gateway violations"" because they open the door to law enforcement noticing other things wrong with the truck. This makes staying on top of maintenance even more pressing. For example, most new reflectors cost around $5 each . If you get pulled over for missing or faulty reflectors, it could trigger an inspection that makes you A) sit still and waste hours, B) miss your appointments, C) end up OOS, and D) get in trouble with your company.

Leaning is the second of the three L's. A leaning truck could indicate

  • tire problems
  • faulty suspension
  • worn spring bushings
  • airbag issues

The first step is to check out the above mechanisms yourself for any noticeable worn springs or airbag problems. To avoid damaging any equipment even further, go to the shop after your pre-trip inspection and get it checked out.

Uneven loading puts excess strain on the truck and can cause leaning over time. You have every right to ask shippers to fix uneven or shoddy loading.

A new leaf spring is one common solution to fixing a leaning truck. Costing anywhere from $80 - $450 , it's a solid first step compared to full suspension repair which costs $1,000 - $2,000.

The last of the three L's are leaks. When you look on the ground near the engine, do you see any puddles or fluids? There are three common sources:

  • power steering
  • water leaks
  • brake fluid

Identify the source. What type of liquid is it? Does it smell? How big is the puddle? Is the radiator cap secured and not broken? If you can identify the problem and fix it - great. If not, make a call to the nearest shop.

The reason you check every bolt and hose on the pre trip inspection Class A checklist is to avoid these mystery leaks. Preventative maintenance is key.

Maintenance as a Money Saver: 

It's a lot cheaper to replace nuts and bolts than it is to replace an entire system that's been damaged due to ongoing leaking. Driving with a leaking radiator can damage engine bay components and require repairs to a chain of other parts. If the problem was the radiator gasket, for example, the cost of a replacement would only be around $40 .

The limit for tread depth is 4/32" on steer tires and 2/32" on others to pass a Class A pre trip inspection. Sometimes tires look good during inspection, but after a long haul, treads have worn down too low. 

Tire replacement should be prompt - blowouts happen all the time and can do serious damage to the underside of the trailer. Check if the tire is still under warranty, and have it and any others replaced ASAP.

Make sure tires are always filled to the manufacturer's recommendation and ideally the same PSI in each tire. Note that tread loss accelerates in extreme heat. Tires gain about 1 pound of pressure every 10 degrees as the temperature increases. Asphalt can be 20-50 degrees hotter than the air; keep that in mind before thinking any bulges or worn tread will be fine.

New big rig tires cost $250 - $600 , or $0.04 per mile. Because of the high cost, many large fleets are opting for imported tires to keep costs down. Research reviews on the brand you have in mind first - many have bad reviews from truckers. Here's a video that shows how much time can be lost by blowing a steer tire.


Pull over safely and legally. Give the truck some time to cool down in idle. Try turning the heat on to get some of that heat out of the engine - it will feel uncomfortable but protecting the engine is worth it. Check to see if the radiator is jammed with debris or has bent fins. An overheating truck could be difficult to diagnose, and you'll most likely have to have a mobile mechanic come to you. If you were going up a steep grade, it might have just been the way you were driving.

  • Keep the radiator clean
  • Check the muffler for soot build-up in older trucks
  • Don't use cruise control in hilly areas
  • Don't overload the trailer

Constant overheating can be hard to diagnose, and it can make you chronically late to appointments. Regular maintenance and a thorough CDL pre trip inspection Class A are where the little details can be spotted and nipped in the bud.

why you need to follow the CDL pre trip inspection checklist

Cota Systems Make More Money Per Mile CDL Pre-Trip Checklist

We know the struggle of hauling empty or partially full trucks and deadheading between every load. Our solution? Seamlessly connecting truckers with available LTL loads that complement their route and trailer capacity. Free and easy to use, Cota Systems™ platform makes it simple to earn more money per mile. We'll send you available LTL truck loads on your preferred routes as soon as they're posted.

Simply sync all of your favorite load boards into Cota Systems™ for easy browsing and instant notifications.


Cota Systems™ mobile app connects drivers with new loads and their dispatchers no matter where they are.

  • Extra loads on the road.
  • Scan and send documents.
  • Keep track of your earnings.
  • Seamless dispatch integration.
  • Real-time load notifications.
  • Stay connected anywhere.

Whether you're trying to figure out how to find box truck loads , or you just aim to connect in real-time, anytime, staying efficient on the road makes the difference between staying profitable and staying afloat.

Our trucking dispatch software is completely free and feature-rich, saving teams time on paperwork and document sharing. The platform integrates seamlessly with the driver app simplifying everything from load finding to billing.

How Cota Systems™ helps drivers 10X their income:

  • Eliminates wasted miles with convenient LTL and partial load boards
  • Efficient document uploading and one-click billing
  • Communicate with shippers in the same app
  • Load board syncing cuts down the time it takes to book a load

Bypass Construction

The DOT 511 traffic app provides state-specific traffic and construction updates. Check for delays on your route to get ahead of detours and lane closures. Each state has their own app, so download it ahead of time.

Why does it matter? If you earn $0.60 per mile on a 400-mile trip, that's $240 earned in roughly 8 hours. Now, say traffic adds 1.5 hours to your trip. You still earn the same $240 AND you don't have the opportunity to pick up another load before you reset. Time is money!"

In 2016, truckers were delayed a total of 1.2 billion hours because of congestion on the road - that's in the billions! Truck bottlenecks are mostly common in major cities. Planning your route ahead of time to avoid traffic delays is crucial to your bottom line.

traffic jams cost truckers money

Weather Apps

Winter and summer storms can eat into income and create seriously dangerous roads. Depending on the weather, you might be able to plan a different route to avoid delays or change the time and place you stop to rest. The AccuWeather app is a popular choice among drivers. 

The horror stories of drivers getting stuck at a rest stop for days or getting blown over by strong winds paint the ugly picture of the weather as a driver's biggest opponent.

Truck Parking

After finishing your Class A CDL pre trip inspection, take a few minutes to map out overnight parking spots along your route. American Truck Parking does a good job of showing truck stops and rest areas that offer overnight parking, as well as the pricing, pictures, and other amenities. You can filter out for gated parking spots, CAT scales, showers, truck washes, and much more. Compare pricing beforehand and save yourself the cash!

Speaking of cash, it's important to take advantage of freight factoring. This method can offer truckers immediate cash flow, while waiting on customers to pay.

In addition to managing your cash flow, be sure to consider freight insurance , this protects your trucks and cargo from any potential risk during transit.

Dock Details

Headed to a new shed? Check them out on Dock 411 to confirm things like pallet restrictions and hours of operation. Not sure if you can fit? Most places have pictures that other drivers took or reviews about slow loading and yard hazards.

The benefit? This helps plan things like getting lunch, calculating hours, and knowing whether or not you even want to take a certain load. If you see reviews that a shed has an average 7-hour loading time (the standard is 2.5 hours ), you can have a conversation with dispatch early on to make a game plan regarding detention and/or layovers.

While researching docks, don't put your well-being on the back-burner. Be sure to invest in the right truck mattress for a good night's sleep during layovers or breaks.

truck driver waiting at dock detention time

Gas Buddy helps truckers find the cheapest gas prices along their route. While you're looking, you can see what stops have showers, food, repairmen, and other amenities so you can save time at a 1-stop shop.

For reference, the average owner-operator spends $45,605 on fuel per year ( 2022 ). Company drivers don't usually have this problem since they have discounted fuel cards. (You can get fuel cards with Cota Systems , too). To learn more, check out our post on the best fuel cards for truckers.

Legally Bypass Inspection Sites

Did we mention that time is money? Another way to save time is with Drivewyze , an in-cab app for driver devices that provides inspection bypass opportunities at 884 weigh stations across the states. When bypass isn't allowed, they have an e-inspection system that speeds up the process and avoids long lines. It sounds too good to be true, but it's 100% legal and works 89% of the time. Prepass is another company that offers this service.

Weigh station stops can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours if lines are long or they find something wrong with your truck. That 30-minute stop could have earned you $15 (at $0.60/mile for 25 miles). Doing so every day could cost you $300/month, and that's IF the stops only take 30 minutes!

Most drivers use a combination of navigation apps. Hammer and Google Maps are popular choices. Systems made specifically for truckers won't take you down prohibited roads - that's why Google Maps alone might not cut it.

Health Apps

Recent studies found that workers who take care of their mental health average 9.3 fewer sick days per year than workers who don't. The life expectancy of truck drivers is 61 years , partly due to their unhealthy lifestyle and work-related stress. Your health is just as important as any CDL pre-trip list. Obesity is one of the most prevalent health issues in the trucking industry for long-haul drivers. These healthy habits can save you down the line:

  • Skip the fast food, sugary snacks, and sodas.
  • Find a way to manage your stress. Talking to a friend while you drive or finding a podcast that you enjoy are two common solutions.
  • Exercise during home days focusing on your back.
  • Switch up your stimulants. Instead of Redbull every day, try green tea, coffee, or Yerba Mate a few days per week.

Try out some apps like MyFitnessPal for weight loss and nutrient tracking or Luminosity for mental health support.

long haul trucker health concerns fmcsa department of transportation

OTR drivers can take advantage of toll services like Prepass (which also serves as a weigh station bypass) and Best Pass , a prepaid transponder system. If a toll company isn't covered, it's best to just use cash and keep your receipt. A few tips:

  • Take a second to review toll prices on your trip. Any tolls should be factored in when dispatch discusses rates, especially in cities.
  • Find and join any toll discount program you can find (take the New York toll reimbursement program, for example)
  • Best Pass offers cash toll discounts, but you should verify that the transponder rate wouldn't have been the same (and much faster).

How to Remember Pre Trip Inspection CDL Checklist

Start with our printable CDL pre trip inspection cheat sheet and repeat, repeat, repeat. Use the same checklist every time so your brain can get into that rhythm. Remember the acronyms:

BBC: Bent, broken, or cracked

ABC: Abrasions, bruises, cuts

PFL: Peak for leaks

3 L's: Lights, leaks, leans

Understanding the mechanics of the truck and how everything works together will help your brain form stronger connections and remember more. Try explaining the process to your wife, kids, or friends (even if they won't remember) so you can spot areas you need to study the CDL pre trip inspection PDF more.

What is the item most commonly overlooked during a pre trip inspection?

A few items on the CDL pre trip inspection checklist trip up new drivers most often:

  • Chocks: During your CDL class a pre trip inspection, you'll have the vehicle on and off, and be testing various brake systems. Chocks prevent the truck from moving around while you're underneath and walking around.
  • Seatbelts: It's often the last thing on a new driver's mind on the long list of items to inspect. But, your life depends on it.
  • Emergency Kit: Especially if you drive a shared truck, you don't know if the previous driver used up anything in the kit. Just because you see the kit doesn't mean everything is present and functional.
  • Reflectors: Reflectors help other vehicles see you at night. Because there are so many, drivers rush through this check or give them a quick glance. These are another "gateway violation" that can get you pulled over and given a roadside inspection.
  • Wheel Lug Nuts: Loose wheel fasteners could have your tires speeding down the freeway toward other cars and trucks. Double-check that all lug nuts are fastened and free of rust.
  • Personal Health: Remember the figures we mentioned about truck driver life expectancy. Put your health first, and don't drive if you feel sick and feverish.

This is all about the safety of you and others. Keep your pre trip inspection Class A cheat sheet with you and go through the same, thorough motions every time.

CDL Class B Pre Trip Inspection

The CDL Class B pre trip inspection follows virtually the same guidelines as Class A, but they differ in terms of vehicle type. 

Class B includes buses, straight trucks, and smaller commercial vehicles that are typically not designed to tow additional trailers. Items like the 5th wheel and coupling mechanisms are obviously left off. Drivers have to check passenger doors, wheelchair lifts, handrails, emergency exits, and seating for passenger safety.

New Truck Pre-Inspection Checklist Addition

Non owner-operators who are regularly assigned new trucks can't take for granted that everything was left as you might have left it. Add these to your pre-inspection checklist:

  • Cab card & book: permits, registration, IFTA paperwork, and cab cards are present and up-to-date
  • IFTA Sticker: current year is displayed on both sides of the truck
  • Elog Device: present and functional
  • Permits: in the cab card book and up to date
  • License Plate: front and back plates match
  • Medical Card: med card and CDL are on your person or in the truck
  • Paper Logbook: backup if E-log stops working
  • Inspection sticker: stuck to the side of the truck and up-to-date
  • FMCSA Safety Book: within arms reach of the driver's seat

Additional Supplies: load securing equipment, extra coolant and oil, cable cutters, hammer and wrench, hard hat, and steel-toed boots, and any wisdom you've gained from recent semi truck shows for the latest in safety and efficiency enhancements.

Final Notes on Completing Your CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist

So, you're armed with the ultimate CDL pre trip inspection checklist that will help you pass your exam and save on vehicle maintenance. Your truck is your money maker; our goal for this guide is to give drivers the tools to protect their biggest asset and keep the most money in their pockets as they can. That includes showing you the best truck driver accessories and the best trucking GPS , so you'll be set for the long-haul.

Learn more about how to earn more money and truck driver pay in our blog . Here's another link to the pre trip inspection Class A PDF . Good luck!

Join Our Newsletter

Discover tips, trick, and tools to grow your business faster than ever! Plus - exclusive giveaways, discounts, and new feature releases.

The Cota Systems Blog

Discover new tools, tips, and tricks to drive the growth of your business.

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

What is Consolidated Freight? Shipping Secrets

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

#1 Ultimate Freight Broker Guide: Results You’ll Love


Sc cdl inspection test.

Crist CDL free online BVM practice tests

  • South Carolina
  • CDL Practice Test
  • SC Pretrip CDL Practice Test - 1

FREE 2024 South Carolina (SC) Pretrip Practice Test 1

2024 sc pretrip information.

The pretrip exam is an oral exam that you will need to pass after you have taken all of your CDL written tests, and are at the exam station for your pretrip, skills, and road test exams. During the pretip exam you will need to verbally check components to make sure that the vehicle is safe for operation. In some states there can be over 100 items to check on a tractor trailer.

The exam doesn’t stop at just listing the components, you will have to name the item by its proper name and say at least 3-5 things you would check that item for. Don’t’ forget to mention what you are going to check the 3-5 things for as well. This is a very detailed exam on the vehicle and its parts be ready.

As an example, the air compressor would need checked, we are going to check belts (if not gear driven), air lines, and securement of the air compressor. Because we mentioned belts (if not gear driven) we have to check for play in the belt, check it for wear, and crack. Moving on the air lines, need to be secure, no breaks or cracks, and no leaks. Finally check all bolts, nuts, and securement pieces to make sure none are loose or missing.

Image of South Carolina's Driver's License

Based on the 2024 SC CDL Driver's Manual

Questions appearing on this cdl practice test:, when doing the pre-trip, you should tell the examiner each item you are checking and 2-3 things you check each item for., should you do an overview of your vehicle as you approach it (including looking for leaks, leaning, or excessive damage), when checking the lights at the front of the vehicle what should you check for, when checking the windshield, what should you be looking for, when opening the hood, you should check, checking the mirrors on the outside of the vehicle you should check for, in the engine compartment there are four fluids you must check, they are, in the engine compartment there are four major belt or gear driven components. what are they, what should you check each of the fluids in the engine compartment for, what are the main components of the steering controls found in the engine compartment, what should you check the steering linkage for, which of the following does not get checked in the engine compartment, which of the following is not an engine compartment belt, the leaf springs, shocks, u-bolts, shackles, and air bags are part of what system, hoses in the engine compartment should be checked for, the engine belts should be checked for, brake lines should be checked for, air chambers are, air chambers should be checked for, the slack adjuster is part of the braking system, what is the maximum play allowed with the brakes off, brake pads should be checked for, brake drums, brake drums (or discs) must not have cracks longer than:, tire tread depth depends on the axel. the depth should be no less than ______ for the steer axel, and _____ for any other axel., retreaded tires can be on any axel., tires should be checked for, you should check rims for dents, cracks, illegal welds, valve stem, and that they are tight and secure., all rims have a spacer., lug nuts (that hold the rim to the axle) should be checked for, the hub oil seal should be, differences between the steer axel and the rest of the axles are: tread depth, spacers or budding rims, space between the tires, torsion bars, and air bags., you can leave the hood open when moving on with the pre-trip., more south carolina cdl practice test: ( indicates current test), general knowledge practice test 1, general knowledge practice test 2, general knowledge practice test 3, general knowledge practice test 4, general knowledge practice test 5, general knowledge practice test 6, general knowledge practice test 7, general knowledge practice test 8, haz mat practice test 1, haz mat practice test 2, haz mat practice test 3, haz mat practice test 4, school bus practice test 1, school bus practice test 2, school bus practice test 3, school bus practice test 4, passenger vehicles practice test 1, passenger vehicles practice test 2, passenger vehicles practice test 3, passenger vehicles practice test 4, air brakes practice test 1, air brakes practice test 2, air brakes practice test 3, air brakes practice test 4, combination vehicles practice test 1, combination vehicles practice test 2, combination vehicles practice test 3, combination vehicles practice test 4, combination vehicles practice test 5, double/triple trailers practice test 1, double/triple trailers practice test 2, double/triple trailers practice test 3, tanker vehicles practice test 1, tanker vehicles practice test 2, tanker vehicles practice test 3, pre-trip inspection practice test 1, pre-trip inspection practice test 2, pre-trip inspection practice test 3, south carolina free pretrip videos, engine compartment pretrip inspection, inside cab pretrip inspection, rear of tractor pretrip inspection, exterior light pretrip inspection, complete trailer pretrip inspection.

Complete CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklists for Class A and Class B Drivers

Your fleet is loaded, and the fuel tanks are full – you’re ready to move. Or are you?

If you haven’t completed a pre-trip inspection checklist, you might not be.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all drivers holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to complete a pre-trip DOT inspection checklist before operating a commercial vehicle. Usually taking about 10-15 minutes, this inspection checks essential systems such as brakes and steering, as well as tires, mirrors, and emergency equipment.

So how can drivers know what to check? In this article, we’ll run down the DOT requirements for pre-trip inspection checklists, along with key differences between Class A and Class B inspections and even some useful tools that can help make the job easier.

What is a pre-trip inspection checklist?

A pre-trip inspection checklist is a list of items that CDL holders need to review before operating their vehicles. As you may have guessed, this process is known as a pre-trip inspection .

What is a pre-trip inspection?

Pre-trip inspections aren’t just an annoying routine – they’re an important and necessary safety measure that helps ensure that commercial vehicles are up to fleet safety operation standards .

While the scope and contents of a pre-trip inspection checklist vary according to the type of commercial vehicle and its use, you can complete most inspections in about 10-15 minutes. Checklist items generally include assessing the operational condition of anything the driver and vehicle need to operate the vehicle safely . This usually includes things like an air brake check, along with checking lights, tire pressure, couplings, and so on.

Drivers must also record their inspection results in a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR), which is usually automated (or at least streamlined) in companies with established fleet management tools. Periodic inspection requirements require additional pre-trip inspections every 24 hours of continuous use or whenever the driver changes vehicles.

It may seem like a lot to review, but most of it boils down to common sense. Before you start crawling under the nearest truck, however, you may want to see whether you have to perform a pre-trip inspection in the first place!

Who needs to complete a pre-trip inspection?

Pre-trip inspections are mandatory for both Class A and Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders.

If you’re a CDL holder, you probably already know which Class you fall into. But just in case, here’s a quick refresher on the types and weights of vehicles that different classes of CDL holders can operate.

  • The Class A CDL applies to commercial vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds that can tow at least 10,000 pounds. This usually encompasses most towing commercial vehicles such as big rigs, tractor-trailers , and flatbeds.
  • The Class B CDL applies to commercial vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds that can tow no more than 10,000 pounds. This usually encompasses most non-towing commercial vehicles, such as passenger buses, garbage trucks, and delivery trucks.

While there is also a Class C CDL, this usually extends to specialty vehicles not found under either Class A or Class B (such as hazardous waste transport). However, since their detailed inspection procedures are highly specific and beyond the scope of this article, we won’t cover them here.

But what’s involved in Class A and Class B inspections, and how can they differ?

Class A vs. Class B pre-trip inspections

While Class A and Class B vehicles share many of the same detailed inspection procedures (every commercial vehicle has brake lights, after all), each class and vehicle type has its own inspection procedures.

  • Class A and Class B commercial vehicles share many common inspection items, such as front and rear suspension, brake lights, minimum brake pad thickness, oil level, etc. These are usually items that apply to any type of road vehicle.
  • Class A inspection items are usually those related to towing systems in commercial vehicles, such as the trailer parking brake, coupling areas, etc. These inspection standards usually extend to the trailer, flatbed, or any other object that the truck is towing.
  • Class B inspection items are usually those related to non-towing commercial vehicles. As this is a very broad category, some Class B vehicles may not require any additional inspections, while others may have several specific systems to inspect. In the case of the latter, these are usually items specific to the vehicle itself, such as checking for broken seat frames in passenger areas of a bus.

Of course, there’s much more to each pre-trip vehicle inspection than the handful of key differences we’ve listed here. In the next section, we’ll run down the pre-trip inspection process that applies to nearly every commercial vehicle and then detail more class-specific motor vehicle safety inspections.

CDL pre-trip inspection checklist

The standard CDL pre-trip DOT inspection checklist includes everything a commercial motor vehicle needs to navigate the road safely.

These are generally suspension- and engine-related items that would just as well apply to a regular car. As a general rule, a commercial pre-trip inspection test almost always includes the following motor vehicle safety inspections.

Brake system

There’s nothing more important than your vehicle’s air brakes. Note that the following air brake tests apply to both tractor brakes and trailer brakes on Class A commercial vehicles.

  • Brake linings and brake pads: Brake pads should be no less than the minimum thickness of one-quarter inch (¼”). Also, be sure to check linings for oil and debris.
  • Brake chamber: The brake chamber should be completely sealed with no audible air leaks.
  • Air brake hose: No air should leak from the brake hose, and the line should be properly mounted and free of cuts or splits.
  • Brake drum: Should not be blue from excessive heat.
  • Hand brake: Push rods should have no more than one inch (1”) of play in either direction and stand up 90 degrees when pulled.

Depending on the vehicle, these items are usually checked with a 9-step, 7-step, or 5-step brake test. These tests usually involve pressing the brake pedal, service brake, hand brake, or foot brake under various conditions and seeing whether air pressure recovers to the proper level in time (see your vehicle’s operating guide).

For example, drivers can check for low air pressure by pressing the brake pedal to fan off the pressure. If repeatedly pressing the brake pedal results in a low pressure buzzer or light indicator, the brake system will require repair.

Engine compartment

Engine compartment inspection items include:

  • Fluids: The coolant hose, power steering hose, and any tanks or reservoirs should all be securely mounted and have no leaks. Similarly, a dipstick should indicate that all fluid levels (including oil level and coolant level) are at their proper levels.
  • Belts: All belts for compressors, pumps, and alternators should have no cracks or frays and give no more than one-half of an inch (½”) of play.
  • Air compressor: Should be securely mounted and functional with no cracks or leaks.
  • Water pump: Pump hoses must be properly connected with no leaks.
  • Alternator: Wires and belts must be properly connected.

Front of vehicle

Front-of-vehicle inspection items usually include steering equipment such as:

  • Steering column or steering shaft: The steering column should be straight and unbroken.
  • Steering box: The steering gearbox should be intact, and all connected hoses should be securely mounted with no power steering fluid leaks.
  • Tie rod and control arms: Both should be straight.
  • Drag link: The rubber should be greased and uncracked.
  • Pitman arm: All cotter pins and caste nuts are present, secure, and tight.

Front suspension

Front suspension inspection items include springs, spring mounts, shocks, and suspension airbags.

  • Spring mounts and spring hangers: Spring mounts should hold spring hangers securely in place with no signs of wear, cracks, or breakage.
  • Leaf springs: Should be secured to hangers with no cracks or breakage.
  • Shock absorbers: Should have no leaks, splits, or dry rot in the rubber. Leaks are typically located where the top and bottom pieces overlap.
  • U-bolts: Should all be securely fastened around the spring and axle.

Rear of vehicle

The rear of tractor or truck inspection items include the following.

  • Driveshaft: Should be straight with unbroken U-joints.
  • Exhaust: Should be free of rust with no leaks or excessive soot.
  • Frame: Structurally sound with no damages or unauthorized repairs/welds.
  • Steps: Structurally sound and mounted properly.
  • Mud Flaps: Should be clean, unbroken, and secured at the right height.

Wheels and tires

Wheel and tire inspections check for both proper inflation and overall tire condition, specifically tread depth. Note that this also extends to trailers on Class A vehicles.

  • Drive and steer tires: Tire tread should be even with a minimum tread depth of 2/32” on drive tires and a minimum tread depth of 4/32” on steering axle tires. Use an air pressure gauge to check inflation levels against manufacturer inflation levels. Treads and sidewalls should be free of cracks, bulges, and abrasions.
  • Wheel rims: No unauthorized repairs or illegal welds.
  • Hub seal and axle seals: Should show the axle and hub seal intact with no visible leaks or play.
  • Dual spacing: Any dual tires must have enough spacing between them.
  • Lug bolt holes: All lug bolt holes should have all lug bolts and lug nuts.
  • Valve stem: No audible air leaks.

Lights and reflectors

Light and reflector inspections include everything from running lights to DOT tape and 4-way emergency flashers.

  • High and low beams: Ensure both are functional on all forward lights.
  • Turn signals: Make sure all are functional for both tractor and trailer.
  • Brake lights: Make sure all are functional for both tractor and trailer.
  • Running lights and license plate lights: Walk around the truck and make sure all are on.
  • 4-way emergency flasher function: Walk around the truck to make sure the 4-way flasher rear and front lights are fully operational.
  • Reflector tape and DOT tape: All DOT tape and reflector tape should be clean with no signs of excessive wear.

Driver door and fuel tanks

Cab doors and fuel tanks are often located in the same area on commercial vehicles. Be sure to check the following:

  • Door and door hinges: Should be intact and latch completely. The rubber door seal should be clean and uncracked.
  • External mirrors and mirror brackets: All external mirrors should be firmly attached to their mirror brackets. External mirrors should also be clean and uncracked. Also, be sure to adjust external mirrors and mirror brackets to provide an adequate rear view.
  • Steps: Should be securely mounted and able to support the weight.
  • Fuel tank: No leaks, with cap and seal unbroken and intact.

In-cab items

Cab inspection usually covers the following items:

  • Steering wheel: Fully attached to steering column.
  • Gauges: Check that air gauges, oil pressure gauges, and any other gauges for operation function normally within their operating range. Air pressure gauges should build pressure to the governor cut out during an applied pressure test.
  • Warning lights: Lights should show clearly for any lighting indicators, such as ABS lights or oil pressure indicators.
  • Windshield: Cracks beyond one inch (1”) are not permitted. Windshield wipers should be clean and work properly, and the truck should have enough windshield washer fluid.
  • Seat belt: Should fasten securely.
  • City horn and air horns: Both air and city horn should sound properly.
  • Heater and defroster: Should heat and function properly.

Special checks for Class A and Class B inspections

As we mentioned earlier, a Class A pre-trip truck inspection will usually have different periodic inspection requirements than, say, a Class B pre-trip school bus inspection.

While periodic inspection requirements ultimately come down to the exact type of vehicle (a Class B garbage truck, for example, may require additional inspections for its armature and compactor), the main differences usually come down to trailers vs. passenger areas .

  • Trailers share many of the same inspection checklist items as the tractor, specifically the wheels and tires, suspension, and rear of trailer lights and reflectors. Also, make sure that the landing gear is not broken and can be fully raised.
  • Coupling area inspections include checking air connectors, electrical lines, and nearby glad hands. All mounting equipment, such as the fifth-wheel plate, kingpin, mounting bolts, skid plate, release arm, and locking jaw and pins, should be present, secure, and in good condition.
  • Rear of truck suspension inspections share many of the same items as those of front inspections but with special attention paid to the torque arm (or radius rod), which should be mounted securely with intact brushings.
  • Passenger items such as seating, passenger doors, and any wheelchair lifts should all be secure and in working order. Emergency exits should also be clearly labeled and sound an alarm when opened.
  • School bus items include all of the passenger items listed above, with the addition of checking student loading lights, stop arm, student rear-view mirror, and a recent first aid and body fluid cleanup kit.

Pre-trip inspections made easy with CalAmp

With fleet management software from CalAmp, you can spend less time filling out pre-trip inspection reports and more time on the road. Request a demo today to see just how easy it is to use CalAmp’s pre-trip inspection tools!

Recent Related Stories

Connect with us.

AI-powered applications

Top features

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

Get the most out of your equipment.

Get unparalleled visibility into the location, utilization, and health of your equipment, starting with the new compact and durable Asset Gateway Mini.

By industry

By company size

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

Heritage-Crystal Clean reduced compliance violations by 25%.

How a 1,000-vehicle fleet simplified compliance for its drivers and managers.

Technical resources

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

Physical Economy Outlook 2024

59% of physical economy leaders think rising costs are their biggest threat. Survey of 1,000 leaders uncovers the challenges physical operations leaders experienced over the last year and the opportunities ahead.

Get to know Motive

sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

Empowering a culture of safety, efficiency, and sustainability

Our 2023 Impact Report highlights how we partner with our customers and invest in our people and our organization to drive sustainability and positive impact. 

Talk to Sales or Support 24/7

+1 855-511-3529 Visit Help Center

  • Blog »
  • Tips for drivers

CDL pre-trip inspection checklist.

CDL pre-trip inspection checklist.

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) can put you behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer, a flatbed, or a tanker, among other non-passenger vehicles. Before you hit the road though, you’ll need to complete a CDL pre-trip inspection checklist. By inspecting the commercial vehicle beforehand, you can head out on your route knowing you’ve confirmed major systems and parts are road ready. Recognizing road safety is always a fleet priority . This article provides a comprehensive guide to the CDL pre-trip inspection checklist.

What is a CDL pre-trip inspection checklist?

A CDL pre-trip inspection checklist systemizes the driver’s vehicle inspection to ensure care and consistency. While a pre-trip inspection would be a best practice no matter what, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires these checks for commercial vehicles. Part 396.3 (a) calls on every motor carrier to “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control.” 

The fleet also has to keep formal records of their vehicle checks. So, drivers typically follow a CDL pre-trip checklist and record their findings in the driver vehicle inspection report, or DVIR , confirming the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspection is complete.

A CDL A pre-trip inspection checklist requires drivers to inspect many different parts and system including:

  • Vehicle lights
  • Tires, wheels, and rims
  • Windshield wipers
  • Emergency equipment

Different motor carriers may add their own expectations to the CDL pre-trip checklist. But they would be adding particular items to check, not doing away with the pre-trip inspection. After all, non-compliance with the federal pre-trip inspection requirements can earn hefty fines and lead to the loss of certifications and licenses.

The Class A CDL pre-trip inspection checklist is important enough that drivers testing for their license are expected to do the pre-trip inspection as part of their examination. Inspection requirements can vary by state. There’s also a Class B CDL pre-trip inspection list. 

Why is the CDL pre-trip inspection checklist important?

Compliance isn’t the only reason following the CDL pre-trip inspection checklist is important. The federal requirement is in place, after all, to ensure commercial vehicles on the road are safe to drive. 

With continued investment into critical infrastructure over the last 20 years, the percentage of roads in good condition has climbed since 2000. Yet the United States still has hazardous roads. In fact, “from 2000 to 2020, the share of major roadways in poor condition has remained fairly steady, rising from 11.8% to 13.8% over the course of 20 years.”

This makes keeping commercial vehicles in top shape all the more important to safety and efficiency. A CDL pre-trip checklist helps improve fleet safety by avoiding drivers going out on the road in vehicles that are not fit for duty. Taking a truck out on the road with an unsecured load, damaged brakes, disconnected wiring, or another issue could lead to drivers hurting themselves or somebody else.

Fleet vehicle inspections can also help keep drivers on the road. Identifying issues in advance can help avoid major problems that mean downtime and costly repairs. Plus, if the Department of Transportation (DOT) inspects the vehicle and finds something that the driver missed, they can put that vehicle out of service for longer. DOT violations can also lead to fines and hurt your CSA scores . A decrease in your CSA scores can lose your fleet business and cause your insurance premiums to go up too.

How to perform a CDL pre-trip inspection 

Although there is no specific time limit, a thorough CDL pre-trip inspection usually takes 15 to 30 minutes. This pre-trip starts at the front of the truck, but you can take the steps in this CDL pre-trip checklist and make them your own.

Front of the truck

Verify lights are clean, securely mounted, the right color, and working. Make sure the truck isn’t leaning. Confirm there are no leaks under the engine compartment.

Engine compartment

Check critical fluid levels. This includes power steering, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and engine oil. Inspect reservoirs, tanks, and hoses for any leaks, splits, or cuts. Ensure the hoses for the water pump, coolant, oil, and power steering are all properly connected and securely mounted. Check the air compressor is well secured. Inspect to make sure the belts on the alternator, pumps, and compressor are secure as well. They should have no more than 1/2″ to 3/4″ of play with no cuts or splits.

Front of the truck/tractor

Inspect the steering shaft and gear box to see they’re properly mounted to the frame and that there are no cracks or breaks. Check gear box hoses for leaks. Look for excessive play in the steering belt, secure connections. Check connections and look for leaks on pitman arm, drag link, and upper/lower control arms and tie rod. Move on to the spring mounts, leaf springs, and U-bolts to confirm they are not cracked or broken and are securely mounted. Do the same with shock absorber but also look for visible leaks and ensure the rubber bushings don’t have dry rot. Check the rubber of the airbag.

Check the hose, chamber, drum, pads and slack adjuster to confirm secure mountings and no leaks. Look out also for any breaks, splits, or cuts. Verify slack adjuster push rod has no more than 1″ of play and is at a 90° angle to the brake chamber. Check the brake drum has no bluing from excessive heat. Ensure brake pads have a minimum thickness of 1/4”.


Check tires for cuts, bulges, and abrasions on your tires. Confirm tire tread depth and inflation levels. Check All lug nuts are accounted for and in good condition. Ensure valve stem is properly secured and capped. Look out for unauthorized or illegal welds on wheel rims. Check tires are properly spaced if your tractor/trailer has duals. Confirm the hub seal/axle seal is not loose and has no visible leaks.

Rear of truck

Look at the frame to ensure nothing is broken. Check for unauthorized welds. Confirm the catwalk and steps are properly mounted and kept clear. Ensure the drive shaft is free of debris with unbroken and untwisted U-joints. Verify the exhaust system is secure and look for exterior soot, which could indicate a leak. Make sure mudflaps are also secured at the right height.

Coupling area

Check that the fifth wheel platform, apron, and kingpin are secure, not cracked, bent, or broken. Look for any unauthorized or illegal welds. Confirm skid plate is properly greased. Verify release arm, locking jaw, and slide locking pin are fully locked. See that mounting bolts are tight and none are missing. Ensure glad hands have seals in good condition with no signs of rot or leaks. Secure electric lines with safety latches in place. Check air connector is secure on both ends without cuts or abrasions.

Verify that there are no holes in the trailer’s front, sides, or floor and that all rivets are present. See that DOT tape is properly secured and not dirty. Check that all hardware is present on an untwisted, unbroken frame and that cross members are securely mounted with none missing. Ensure lights are clean, working, and not loose. Confirm landing gear is raised, securely mounted, with an operational handle. Check air lines are securely mounted, above ground, with no audible leaks. Verify tandem slide and release arm are properly mounted and locked.

Truck exterior

Make sure that the truck steps are mounted and secure.  Ensure the fuel cap is tight and the tank is not leaking. Demonstrate that the doors latch properly with hinges intact. Ensure mirrors are unbroken and securely attached. Check all the lights and reflectors are working too. This means inspecting the running lights, high beams/low beams, turn signals, hazards, brake lights, license plate lights, and reflector tapes. If driving a hazardous load , ensure you have the proper hazmat placards securely affixed.

Check to ensure your seat belt adjusts and latches properly and that there are no rips or frays. Confirm the shifting distance, room for the clutch, and that parking brake is on. Verify the steering wheel is secure and that the foot pedals are clear of obstruction. When the vehicle is on, look for the ABS light to come on and off. Make sure the windshield wipers, heat and defrost, gauges, and horns are working. Pump the brake pedal several times then apply pressure to the pedal and hold for five seconds to ensure the pedal does not move. For air brakes, confirm applied pressure, warning lights and buzzers, and valve pop-out are all working. Look for three reflective triangles , spare fuses or circuit breakers, and a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher with its pin in place.

Common issues found during pre-trip inspections

While completing a CDL pre-trip list, drivers may encounter any of these common problems. This section identifies common issues, how to address them, and how to prevent future problems too. 

Truck is leaning

Using the 3L’s you might see the truck leaning to one side. This could be a suspension problem or indicate low tire pressure.

Fix it by first checking the tire pressure and inflating tires. If that doesn’t address the problem, check the suspension. Driving a vehicle when there is a problem with the suspension, springs, shocks, or struts can cause severe damage to the vehicle.

Broken lights/warning lights

If you detect an exterior light is cracked or broken, fix it before going out on the road. If a light from the on-board diagnostic system comes on during inspection, e.g., “check engine” or “service engine soon,” address that warning as you’ll fail a roadside inspection if that light comes on. 

Gas cap missing

Damaged or missing gas caps are a common reason for failed inspections on the road. Don’t set out on your route without replacing the gas cap.

Worn tire tread

Unacceptable or worn tire treads or knots or bulges in tires can also lead to failed roadside inspections. Don’t risk going on your route with substandard tires.

How to prevent future CDL pre-trip list problems

An eDVIR or electronic driver vehicle inspection report allows you to record, compile, and store pre-trip and post-trip information on electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. This helps motor carriers and fleets to have a centralized record of inspection history, allowing authorized users to monitor progress, pull reports quickly, and promptly address driver, vehicle, or equipment issues.

Using an eDVIR , you can get out on the road faster with the convenience and accuracy of using a smartphone or tablet to record your data while ensuring your vehicle is safe for operations. Drivers can even take and upload photos to record details and communicate with fleet supervisors for quick troubleshooting. 

Making pre-trip inspection checklists easier

CDL pre-trip inspection checklists help systemize the driver’s check of their vehicle before going out on the road. This enhances driver safety and can help reduce accidents. Consistently inspecting fleet vehicles also helps simplify fleet maintenance and avoids failed DOT inspections and reduced CSA scores. 

Pre-trip checks are part of the day to day for drivers. Motive’s customizable eDVIR technology simplifies the reporting. Drivers can assess vehicle parts against a built-in checklist in the Motive Driver app, indicate the severity of the issue, and upload photos. Fleet managers get pre-trip inspection reports in real time. Plus, the technology provides advanced reports to help managers analyze health and maintenance trends for all fleet vehicles. 

Ensure smooth fleet operations with Motive’s fleet safety software. Learn more today. Contact us to request a free demo. 

Want to know more about commercial vehicle driving safety? Check out these tips .

CDL pre-trip inspection checklist.

What is paid CDL training? What truckers need to know.

How to save gas while driving commercial vehicles..

How to get your commercial driver’s license in California.

How to get your commercial driver’s license in California.

How to spec your fleet vehicles to maximize fuel mileage., fitness tips for truck drivers: how to stay in shape., stay updated.

Subscribe to get the latest news, industry trends, blog posts, and updates.

Please enter a valid email address

Thank you for subscribing!

You will be the first one to receive the latest updates and announcements..

South Carolina CDL Manual

Get a head start on your truck driver training by studying the South Carolina CDL license manual. It contains everything you need to know to confidently pass the written CDL exam and get a truck driving job in South Carolina. Find a South Carolina CDL license training  program near you.

Open South Carolina CDL Manual .PDF – coming soon

Use the program search application to connect with a CDL training school in South Carolina.

The South Carolina CDL Manual is conveniently divided into several different sections including driving safely, pre-trip vehicle inspection and basic vehicle control. Simple images and diagrams make truck concepts and procedures even easier to understand.

More Study:

  • South Carolina CDL Practice Test
  • Pre Trip Inspection Checklist Guide


  1. Printable Cdl Pre Trip Checklist

    sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

  2. Best Free CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist

    sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

  3. Printable CDL Pre Trip Inspection Sheet

    sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

  4. Pre Trip Inspection Checklist PDF: Complete with ease

    sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

  5. Printable Cdl Pre Trip Inspection Cheat Sheet

    sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist

  6. Cdl Pre Trip Inspection Class A Checklist

    sc cdl pre trip inspection checklist


  1. The Greatest Pretrip Inspection Class B Checklist

  2. CDL Schools CLASS A PRE-TRIP & Checklist Part 2


  4. Class A CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Tutorial

  5. SC CDL Pre Trip In Cab & Exterior

  6. Pre-trip inspection for cdl test


  1. FREE SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Exam 2024

    This CDL practice test is a great place to start if you're after the SC Pre-Trip Inspection endorsement. Each of the 20 questions is based on the official 2024 CDL manual. The test is designed to prepare you for the Pre-Trip Inspection portion of your 2024 Commercial Driver's License exam. There are several answer options, but only one of ...

  2. FREE South Carolina CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test 2024

    South Carolina CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Overview: 20 Total number of questions. 16 Number of questions required to pass. 80 Percentage required to pass. Show Comments. Prepare for your pre-trip inspection test with our South Carolina pre-trip inspection practice test. 100% Free. Questions based on the 2024 CDL manual.

  3. Mastering the CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Exam: A Complete Guide

    This includes checking the engine compartment, brake system, fuel system, and more. The CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Exam is an integral part of obtaining your commercial driver's license. This guide covers Class A and Class B pre-trip inspections, provides a checklist, and offers tips for memorizing the inspection process.

  4. Pre-Trip Inspection Study Guide

    Our Pre-Trip Inspection Study Guide has everything you need to prepare for the Class A CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Exam. Our study guide will cover the pre-trip inspection terminology as well as a thorough list of all of the parts you will be inspecting on the vehicle. For each part you will be inspecting there will also be a list of items you will ...

  5. SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test

    SC CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Practice Test 2024. Perfect for first-time and renewal CDL/CLP applicants, and those adding endorsements. Based on 2024 SC commercial driver's license manual. Triple-checked for accuracy. Updated for June 2024.


    PRE-TRIP VEHICLE INSPECTION SHEET Author: maitland Created Date: 10/24/2012 8:23:08 AM ...

  7. PDF Tips for Getting Your License Fast! South Carolina Cdl Pre-trip

    SOUTH CAROLINA CDL PRE-TRIP INSPECTION CHEAT SHEET . 1. During the pre-trip inspection: • You must show that the vehicle is safe to drive. 2. In addition to the standard inspection procedures for all vehicles, the driver of a coach/transit bus must also check the doors/mirrors to verify that:

  8. Best Free CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist

    Ideally, it takes 15-30 minutes to run through the CDL pre trip inspection checklist depending on experience level and whether or not any issues are found. If issues are found, they must be fixed right then, before taking any more loads. The cost of preventative maintenance averages $15,000 per truck per year.

  9. PDF CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist

    CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist. Studying the Class-A CDL pre-trip inspection checklist is an important part of truck driver training. Before obtaining your Class A commercial driver's license and getting a truck driving job, most states require students to pass a DOT pre-trip inspection test and a CDL general knowledge test.

  10. South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles DL-404C (IS ...

    South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE CHECKLIST ( DL-404C (IS) Rev. 8/16) These are the items a Commercial Driver's License applicant must bring to the DMV for a skills test. 1. Learner's Permit and License a. Provide a valid SC Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP). b.

  11. CDL Testing

    CDL Testing. You must take the knowledge, skills, and vision tests when applying for an original commercial driver's license (CDL) or upgrading to a different class of license. CDL Knowledge Tests. The type of knowledge tests you must pass depends on the type of commercial vehicle you intend to drive and the cargo you expect to carry.

  12. PDF Class B CDL Pre-Trip Simplified

    Class B Pre-Trip Inspection Point to, or touch, every item that you are inspecting. Tell the tester how you know that the part you are ... This three page diagram will simplify the Class B CDL Pre-Trip inspection. Keywords: Pre-Trip Inspection; CDL Test; Class B,air brake,test,skills Created Date: 5/21/2016 8:15:04 PM ...

  13. CDL Manual January 2021 version

    If you fail a CDL skills test on the third attempt or after, you must wait 30 calendar days to be retested. BANKING OF CDL SKILLS TEST SCORES You may receive credit (bank scores) for portions of the CDL skills test that are successfully completed. Scenario #1: A driver who fails the vehicle inspection due to a low score or does not

  14. PDF Pre-Trip Inspection

    Pre-Trip Inspection. My pre-trip begins as I approach the vehicle. I am looking for leaks, leaning one way or the other (which may indicate a low tire or bad suspension). Hint: Start at the bottom and work your way up. License plate - Secure, clean and up to date. Bumper - Secure, not cracked, bent or broken.

  15. FREE South Carolina CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Test (2024)

    Real South Carolina CDL vehicle inspection test questions, 100% free. Pass your inspection test, take this SC vehicle inspection practice test now! ... The vehicle inspection test, formerly known as pre-trip, is a skills test to see if you identify which features and equipment on the test vehicle should be inspected before driving. During the ...


    This is my Pre-Trip Inspection , done my way! This Pre-Trip is done on my truck and trailer. It is a complete Pre-Trip Inspection and features everything you'll need to know. I've been working on this for a long time and my hometime finally gave me the chance to finish it all up. This is based off of Prime Inc.'s Pre-Trip Inspection pro ...

  17. 2024 SC Pretrip CDL Practice Test 1

    Engine Compartment Pretrip Inspection. Inside Cab Pretrip Inspection. Rear of Tractor Pretrip Inspection. Exterior Light Pretrip Inspection. Complete Trailer Pretrip Inspection. Preparing for your SC Pretrip exam just got easier. Based off of the 2024 SC CDL manual our free Pretrip CDL Practice Test 1 will help you pass the first time.

  18. Getting Your First CDL

    You are at least 21 to drive outside SC. You passed all required knowledge tests for a CDL or CLP in the class vehicle you intend to drive. There is a $2 fee for each knowledge test taken. You held your CLP for at least 14 days before testing. You passed the road test, which includes the pre-trip inspection, off-road, and on-road driving.

  19. Complete CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklists

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all drivers holding a commercial driver's license (CDL) to complete a pre-trip DOT inspection checklist before operating a commercial vehicle. Usually taking about 10-15 minutes, this inspection checks essential systems such as brakes and steering, as well as tires, mirrors, and emergency equipment.

  20. CDL pre-trip inspection checklist.

    A CDL pre-trip inspection checklist systemizes the driver's vehicle inspection to ensure care and consistency. While a pre-trip inspection would be a best practice no matter what, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires these checks for commercial vehicles. Part 396.3 (a) calls on every motor carrier to ...

  21. South Carolina CDL Manual

    The South Carolina CDL Manual is conveniently divided into several different sections including driving safely, pre-trip vehicle inspection and basic vehicle control. Simple images and diagrams make truck concepts and procedures even easier to understand. More Study: The South Carolina CDL manual has the information you need to pass the written ...

  22. How To Pass The CDL A Pre-Trip FAST

    Video Tips:1. Record instructor doing the pre-trip2. Make your own written cheat sheet3. Record an instructor or classmate reciting your cheat sheet4. Practi...