California Pre-Trip Inspection 2023

Pre Trip is the first & important section of DMV Exam

Think Safety – Touch, Point And Fully Explain. Remember, Do Not Go Inside The Engine Or Crawl Under The Vehicle.

Unsafe Act – Forgetting To Set The Parking Brakes. Safety Of Examiner And Driver Is Highest Priority.

Always Use 3 Points Of Contact When Entering And Exiting The Vehicle. Always Follow Examiner’s Instructions – If You Do Not Understand, Ask Examiner For Clarification.

In-Cab Inspection

Lights And Gauges 

  • Put On Seatbelt
  • Foot Off Brake
  • Turn On Auxiliary Power
  • Abs Lights Turn On/Off … Trailer Side ABS Light On/Off ..
  • Left Turn Signal
  • Right Turn Signal
  • Four-Way Emergency
  • High Beam Headlights Are Functioning
  • Def Is More Than Full

Emergency Equipment 

  • Fire Extinguisher – Securely Mounted. Properly Rated And Charged
  • 6 Spare Fuses
  • 3 Emergency Triangles

Windshield And Mirrors 

  • Mirrors Are Adjusted To Me, And Clean
  • Windshield – Securely Mounted, Not Cracked, No Stickers Except Inspection Sticker, Nothing Blocking My View And They Are Clean.

You Must Demonstrate The Use Of The Following

  • Windshield Wipers / Activate The Fluid, The Blades Are Securely Mounted And, Not Damaged
  • Horns Electrical / Air (If Equipped)
  • Heater / Defroster

Air Gauges

Air Gauges - California Pre-Trip Inspection 2023 - Dave School of Truck Driving

Air Brake Check

Key PSI Numbers To Remember

  •  120 – 140  Governor Cut Out
  • 4 – 1       Air Leakage (Dual System)
  • 3 – 1       Air Leakage Test (Single System)
  • 55        Low Air Warning
  • 20 – 45    Spring Brake Pop Out

Key Actions To Perform

AAR          Air It Up – Auxiliary On – Release The Brakes

You Must Explain, Demonstrate And Perform Your Air Brake Check To The Examiner In The Following Manner.

Before Inserting Your Keys Into The Ignition

Apply (Pull Out) Truck And Trailer Brake.

Ensure Truck is in Neutral

Announce Clear”

  1. Chock Your Wheels If On Unlevel
  2. Turn Key To Auxiliary, Let Your Gauges Fully Sweep
  3. Turn On The Truck
  4. Verify Verbally that ABS Light IS Functioning InCab – Side Of Trailer
  5. Identify the Gauge You Will Be Reading From, (Primary – Secondary).
  6. Build Your Air Pressure To Governor Cut Out, (Between 120 – 140 PSI).
  7. You Must Identify The # The Needle Stops Rising On (Governor Cut Out)
  8. Turn Off The Truck
  9. Now Turn The Key To Auxiliary
  10. Release Truck & Trailer Brake, (Wait For Shushing Sound To Go Away).
  11. Put Your Foot On The Brake
  12. Identify The PSI The Needle Has Settled Upon
  • Announce to the Examiner, “I Am Performing The Applied Air Leakage Test. I Should Not Lose More Than 4 PSI In One Minute On A Dual System, 3 PSI On A Single System, I’m Going To Start My Timer ” When The Timer Is Done, You Must Declare How Much, If Any, PSI You Lost During The Test.
  • “Next I will Check the Low Air Warning The Low Air Warning Should Come On No Less Than 55 PSI.” Fan The Brakes Until The Alarm And Light Come On The Dash. You Must Identify The PSI It Comes On At.
  • “Now I Will Keep Fanning The Brakes Until The Parking Brakes Pop Out. They

Should Pop Out No Less Than 20, No More Than 45 PSI”. You Must Identify the Number At Which They Pop Out. Make Sure Both Brakes Popped out!

3 Way Brake Test / Tug Test

  1. Ensure That The Truck Is In Neutral, Brakes Are Applied
  2. Announce “Clear
  3. Turn Key To Auxiliary, Allow Gauges To Fully Sweep
  4. Turn On The Truck, And Build Air Pressure To Governor Cut Out
  5. With Foot On Brake, Release Truck Parking Brake
  6. Put In Drive And Tug Against Trailer Brake.
  7. Now Apply Truck Parking Brake, And Release Trailer Brake
  8. Put In Drive, And Tug Against Truck Parking Brake.
  9. Now Release Both Truck And Trailer Parking Brake
  10. Drive No More Than 5 Mph Forward And Apply Foot Brake. The Truck And Trailer Should Stop Without Pulling You To The

Brake Tests Are Now Complete

Exterior Lights Operation Check

Ask The Examiner To Assist You During Lights Operation Check. You Will Sit Inside The Cab Of Truck, With The Brakes Set, Auxiliary On, And Window Down. Speak Loudly. Tell The Examiner Exactly Which Light You Want Them To Check And Turn On The Corresponding Light.

  • Headlights Low And High Beam
  • Turn Signals
  • 4 Way Flashers
  • Clearance Lights
  • ABS Lights
  • Tail Lights
  • Brake Lights

Inspection Front Of The Vehicle/Engine Area

Identify The Components On The Vehicle And Give Brief Description

  • Clearance Lights: Amber In Color, Not Broken Or Missing, Mounted Securely
  • Turn Signals Left / Right: Amber In Color, Not Broken Or Missing, Mounted Securely
  • Headlights: High & Low, Clear, Not Fogged, Not Broken Or Missing, Mounted Securely
  • Check Under vehicle: no loose or hanging parts, no leaks, no puddles
  • Check Vehicle Position: Truck & Trailer, No Leans Front To Back, Side To Side
  • Coolant Reservoir: Securely Mounted, Filled Above Refill Mark, Cap Is Tight, Not Leaking
  • Coolant Hose: Securely Mounted, No Bubbles, No Cuts, No Leaks
  • Windshield Washer Fluid: Securely Mounted, Filled Above Refill Mark, Cap Is Tight, Not Leaking
  • Windshield Washer Hose: Securely Mounted, No Bubbles, No Cuts, No Leaks
  • Engine Oil Reservoir: Securely Mounted, Cap Is Tight, Not Leaking
  • Engine Oil Dipstick: “I Will Check My Oil Level With My Dipstick, & Make Sure It Is In Safe Operating Range And Above The Refill Mark.”
  • Power Steering Reservoir: Securely Mounted, Filled Above Refill Mark, Cap Is Tight, Not Leaking
  • Power Steering Reservoir Hoses: Securely Mounted, No Bubbles, No Cuts, No Leaks

Steering System

  • Power Steering Pump: Gear Driven Not Cracked, or Broken & Securely Mounted With Cotter Keys & Castle Nut To The
  • Steering Shaft: No more than 10° of play, Not Bent, Not cracked Securely mounted with the Universal joints, no missing bolts or nuts
  • Control Arms And Tie Rod:
  1. Pitman Arm
  2. Drag Link
  3. Upper Control Arm
  4. Lower Control Arm
  5. Tie Rod
  6. Passenger Side Control Arm
  • Not Bent, No Cracks, Not Broken, Securely Mounted To The Vehicle With Cotter Keys And Bolts. All Are Tight And Present & Sufficiently

Steer Suspension System

  • Spring Hangers: Not Cracked, Or Broken, Securely Mounted
  • Shackles: Not Cracked, Or Broken, Securely Mounted
  • Leaf Springs: Properly Mounted To The Shackles Not Cracked, Or Broken. “If They Were Cracked More Than ¼ Of An Inch I Would Place My Vehicle Out Of Service”.
  • U Bolts: Not Cracked Or Broken Securely Mounted To The Spacer, Axle And Springs
  • Shock Absorbers: Not Cracked Or Broken, Securely Mounted

Brake System

  • Brake Hose & ABS Line: Securely Mounted, Not Worn, Not Cut, No Leaks
  • Brake Chamber: Securely Mounted, Not Cracked, & There Are No Leaks
  • Brake Chamber Clamp: Securely Mounted, Not Cracked, & There Are No Leaks
  • Slack Adjuster & Push Rod: Not Bent Broken Securely Mounted When My

Brakes Are Applied It Should Be At A 90° Angle, When My Brakes Are Released I Should Have No More Than 1 Inch Of Free Play

  • Brake Drum: Securely Mounted, No Holes, Not Bent Or Broken, No Oil Or Contaminates
  • Brake Linings: Securely Mounted, They Are No Less Than ¼ Inch Thick, Not Broken Or Missing


Remember: ICD Inflation, Condition And Depth

  • Inflation: I Will Check Inflation With A Tire Gauge And Make Sure It’s Inflated To The Manufacturer’s Specification.
  • Condition: Inner And Outer Side Walls Are Evenly Worn, No Cuts Or Bubbles They Are The Same Type. No Recaps On Front Tires
  • Depth: No Less Than 4/32 On Both Front Tires No Less Than 2/32 On All Rear Tires
  • Tire Rims: Not Cracked, Bent Or Broken, There Are No Welds, & No Rust Trails Indicating Its Loose On The Wheel
  • Studs & Bolt Holes: Are Not Broken, Missing, Or Elongated
  • Lug Nuts: Tight And Present, No Shiny Threads, & No Rust Trails
  • Valve Cap And Stem: Not Broken Or Missing Cap Is Present, Not Leaking
  • Hub oil Seal: It Is Full, It’s Not Leaking & The Seal Is In Good Condition

Inspection Side Of Vehicle

Moving Along The Driver’s Side Of The Vehicle You Will Inspect The Following

  • Side Lights/Blinkers: Amber In Color, Not Broken Or Missing, Mounted Securely
  • All Side Mirrors: They Are Clean, No Missing Parts, Not Broken, Or Damaged, Mounted Securely
  • Fuel Tank: Is Not Cracked Or Damaged In Any Way, The Cap Is On Tight, No Leaks From The Tank, Cap, Or Fuel Lines.
  • Fuel Tank Straps: Are Secured To The Frame, They Have No Visible Damage & The Rubber Behind Them Is Intact.
  • Def Tank: It Has More Than 1/8 In The Tank, Cap Is On Tight, No Leaks From The Tank, Lines Or Cap And It’s Securely Mounted To The
  • Sidesteps & Catwalk: Are Clear Of Debris, Not Broken And Securely Mounted To The Vehicle.
  • Battery Box: Is Secured To The Frame. All Connections Are Tight & Have No Excessive Connection Cables And Lines Are Not Cracked Or Worn. The Battery Box Cover Is Secure And In Place
  • Frame: The Frame Is Straight, It Has No Cracks, No Broken Welds, No extra holes, Not Damaged In Any Way
  • Crossmembers: No Cracks, No Broken Welds, no extra holes, Not Damaged In Any Way
  • Torque Bar: Not Bent, Cracked Or Broken And Secured To The Vehicle

You Must Tell The Examiner That Your Drive Axle Suspension Has The Same Components As The Steering Suspension With The Exception Of One Additional Component, The AIR BAGS.

  • Air Bags: (Located Behind The Shocks) Are Secured To The Vehicle, They Are Not Ripped, Torn Or Cut, & Not Leaking.

Coupling System

  • Air Lines: Both Air Lines, & All My Fittings And Seals, From Truck And Trailer Are Not Cracked, Worn, Torn Or Loose, They Are Not Pinched Or Tangled They Are Not Touching The Catwalk. I Hear No Air Leaking From The Lines Or Fittings. They Are Secured To The Truck & Trailer. The Safety Latch Is Not Broken Or Missing.
  • Electrical Plug: Is Firmly Seated And Locked In On Truck & Trailer. It’s Not Sitting On The The Wires Are Not Exposed, & Is Not Worn Torn Or Frayed. Safety Latch Is Not Broken Or Missing.
  • Slider Air Line: (Manual Only) Not Spliced, Not Chafed, Not Worn, Cut Or Leaking And Is Secured To The Vehicle
  • Fifth Wheel Skid Plate: Securely Mounted To The Platform, No Missing Bolts Or The Safety Pin, & Cotter Key, Are In Place & Not Damaged, Or Missing. The Fifth Wheel Is Not Cracked Or Broken & Is Greased Properly.
  • Fifth Wheel Platform: Is Not Cracked Or Broken, Not Missing Any Bolts Or Nuts, And Is Secured To The Frame Of The Truck
  • Sliding Fifth Wheel Locking Pins: (Manual Only) Are Free From Damage Are Fully Engaged And Functioning Properly
  • Release Arm/Lever: Is In The Locked (Closed) Position, When My Trailer Is The Spring Is Working Properly, There Is No Freeplay Around The Lever. And Both Are Securely Mounted, Not Damaged In Any Way.
  • Locking Jaws: Are Working Properly, They are Not Damaged In They Are Locked Around The Kingpin.
  • Trailer Apron: Not Cracked, Bent Or Secured To The Frame Of The Trailer, And Properly Greased.
  • Gap: The Apron Should Rest Flat Upon The Fifth Wheel And There Should Be No Gap Between Them.
  • Kingpin: Is In Place, It Is Not Cracked, Bent, Or Worn.
  • Landing Gear: Is Fully Raised, Securely Mounted To The Not Missing Any Parts. The Handle Is Secured And The Legs Are Straight. The Feet Are Not Broken Or Missing. The Legs Will Clear The Truck Frame And Mud Flaps While Turning.
  • Reflective Tape: Is Present, Clean and Visible
  • ABS Light: Amber In Color, Not Cracked, Working Properly, Securely

Rear Of Trailer

  • Reflective Tape: Is Present, Clean And
  • Lights: Red In Color, Not Cracked, Working Properly, Securely
  • License Plate Light; Clear in Color, not cracked, working properly, securely
  • Pintle Hook: Securely Mounted, Not Cracked, Bent Or Broken. No Excessive No Missing Pins, Bolts Or Brackets.
  • Chain Bar: Securely Mounted, Not Cracked, Broken Or Missing.

Class-A-Checklist - Tractor Semi - Trailer or Truck & Trailer or Bus & Trailer Dave School of Truck Driving

At Dave Truck Driving School, we guide you through the entire Pre-Trip section for getting CDL.  Enroll to get started!

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