18 Things to Check on Your 18-Wheeler Before Hitting the Road

When you’re driving a semi truck, you are essentially operating an 80,000 lb. potential weapon. Of course, that’s fully loaded, but even without the cargo, the semi is always going to win in tragic instances of semi vs. personal vehicle. This is why it’s absolutely essential that you perform pre-checks on your rig before heading out. Here are 18 areas to inspect on your 18-wheeler before you hit the wide open road:

  1. Check for leaks under the engine.
  2. Inspect the belt driven alternator to ensure it’s not cracked or broken and that all wires are connected properly.
  3. Check the general hoses on both the passenger and driver’s side for leaks, bulges, cracks, or any other signs that they’re not 100% intact.
  4. Examine the brake hose for cracks, cuts, and abrasions, and air leaks.
  5. Check out the brake drum to make sure it isn’t cracked, bent, or otherwise compromised.
  6. Are your lug nuts all there and in good shape? They should be.
  7. How about the tires? They should be properly inflated (use an air gauge to check) with no cracks or bulges, and with a tread depth of at least 4/32 of an inch.
  8. Take a look at your mirrors. They should be properly mounted, with no cracked or broken parts. They should also be clean – you need to be able to see out them, after all!
  9. Check the fuel tank for leaks or cracks, and make sure the fuel cap is on securely and is not leaking.
  10. How’s the drive shaft? Is it secure and properly mounted? Are the U-joints clear of debris?
  11. Inspect the mudflaps for tears; also make sure that the reflective tape is present and visible.
  12. Check the spacing between the tires if you have duals, and make sure there’s nothing stuck between them.
  13. Examine the electric lines. If there are any cracks or tears, they will need some attention.
  14. Take a look at the air lines. Are they properly connected? Are they cracked or bulging or leaking air?
  15. Inspect the rear doors and hinges for proper mounting and no visible defects. Don’t forget to check the door seals too.
  16. Lights need to be checked in 5 locations: front of the truck, rear of the truck, sides of the truck, sides of the trailer, and rear of the trailer. Ensure all lights function properly.
  17. Don’t forget to take a look at your reflective tape.
  18. Make sure the shock absorbers are free from cracks or bent areas, and that it is connected at both ends.

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