Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist for Class A CDL – A Complete Guide
AndrewJune 28, 2022CDL

Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist for Class A CDL – A Complete Guide

The Commercial Motor Safety Act of 1986 in the USA has laid guidelines that need to be followed for the minimum required criteria for a state to issue a CDL-Commercial Driver’s License. All inspections of CMVs (Commercial Motor Vehicles) in the USA are done, by the DOT (Department of Transportation)

Pre-trip inspection

It is an inspection done on CMVs before undertaking any trip. CMVs operate under testing terrains and varying climatic conditions. It is imperative for every CMV in a fleet that is on an arduous journey to be in the best operating condition. Operating vehicles on such a large scale does involve a lot of complications. The truck and the truck driver are at constant risk during any journey. The only way to mitigate any potential disaster is to ensure the fitness of the fleet and the driver. A pre-trip inspection is done to ensure that the CMV complies with the regulations in all respects for that long journey.

CDL (Commercial Driving Licenses) Categories

There are three categories of CDLs (Commercial Driving Licenses) Class A, Class B, and Class C. Each class or program has features that distinguish it from the other.

Class A CDL

Holding a Class, A CDL enables the driver to operate both vehicles & trailers. Vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) greater than 26,000 pounds or more, given that the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the hauled vehicle or the trailer is more than 10,000 pounds. Vehicles driven with a Class A CDL are as follows:

  1. Tractor-trailer or semi, big rig or 18-wheeler
  2. Truck and trailer combinations with double and triple trailers
  3. Flatbed vehicles
  4. Tanker vehicles
  5. Livestock carriers

Note that a Class A CDL holder can also operate Class B and C vehicles.

Pre-trip Inspection For Class A CDL

The CDL Inspections are prescribed by the DOT and governed by DOT regulations. You need to remember all the pre-trip inspection items before appearing for a CDL examination.

This pre-trip inspection checklist for a Class A CDL gives an overview of how to perform an inspection.

Points to remember:

  1. A comprehensive DOT pre-trip inspection checklist clears all safety or mechanical issues and ensures a smooth over-the-road experience.
  2. An inspection should take its own time to ensure vehicles are safe to be driven and adhere to all prescribed safety standards. The DOT inspection does not take long if everything is in order. The average time taken is around 30 minutes.
  3. All the CMV operators and drivers are required to follow the DOT pre-trip inspection to ensure safe operations.
  4. Your DOT inspection determines whether you are compliant with the DOT regulations. DOT audits review the checklist for pre-trip inspection to ensure compliance.
  5. Any violations found will lead to fines and impact your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability score.
  6. The Electronic Logging Devices(ELDs) installed should be in working condition.

Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist – Class A CDL

There are various versions of Class A CDL Pre-trip inspection checklists available. However, the pre-trip inspection varies with each company. This article lists the common and critical points followed by most companies in the Class A CDL- the Pre-trip inspection checklist.

Engine Compartment

Front of truck

Coupling area

Driver door fuel area

Side of truck

Rear of truck

Lights and reflectors

In-cab Inspection

Brake Check


Pre-trip inspections are not any mundane activity done casually. These inspections are vital to the health of the fleet and the truck drivers. Moreover, these inspections have to be conducted as prescribed by federal laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has made it mandatory for pre-trip inspections before each haul.

The procedure of conducting the Pre-trip inspections has improved over the years. ELDs have become an integral part of these inspections. In the space of ELD service providers, one brand that stands out is Matrack ELDs. The ELDs are low on cost and monthly subscriptions. Matrack provides the best customer support and is the most reliable brand in the ELD market. Also, drivers need to file a DVIR for pre-and post-trip inspections. Matrack Fleet Management Solution, along with ELD helps in the filing of the report within minutes, making the process faster and more efficient. 

The introduction of technology and applications have digitized the process of pre-trip inspections. It is easy to get many customized reports depending on your business model. The data is cloud-based and accessed from just about anywhere.

With the trucking industry adopting technology in all spheres, the pre-trip inspections are only going to get better and more beneficial for all concerned.

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