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Checked Your Lug Nuts Lately?

Checking the lug nuts on a commercial motor vehicle should be a part of a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). Indicators of a loose lug nut could be shiny metal or new rust. If the lug nut is less than hand-tight, the rim could come off.

July 2011, Work Truck - Feature

by Mike Butsch - Also by this author

Each time a vehicle stops, a walk around should be conducted. Look for any items that may be out of place or failed equipment. The purpose of these checks is to identify issues before they become a major problem.
Each time a vehicle stops, a walk around should be conducted. Look for any items that may be out of place or failed equipment. The purpose of these checks is to identify issues before they become a major problem.

At a Glance:

To ensure safety compliance, commercial vehicle drivers should:

  • Complete a pre-trip inspection.
  • Ensure emergency equipment is onboard and in working order.
  • Conduct on-road inspections.
  • Document post-trip inspections on a DVIR.

At the end of the day, commercial motor vehicle drivers do not want to be involved in an accident, break down, or be placed "out of service" due to poor maintenance. By conducting proper and thorough vehicle inspections, drivers can maximize safety and minimize the risk of mechanical failure. By catching mechanical problems early, the driver can reduce the likelihood of major costly repairs or an accident caused by a preventable mechanical failure. As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Driver vehicle inspections are not only a best practice, but required by the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations (FMCSR). There are three types of inspections:

■ Pre-trip inspections (FMCSR Sec. 392.7 & Sec. 396.13): conducted prior to operation of a vehicle.

■ On-the-road inspection (en-route) (FMCSR Sec. 392.9): conducted while driving or stopped.

■ Post-trip inspection (FMCSR Sec. 396.11): conducted at the end of the shift and includes a completed driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR).

Pre-Trip Inspection

Remember, commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers must be satisfied a vehicle is safe to operate. Before starting, chock the wheels and secure the parking brake.

The standard seven-point process typically followed is:

  • Vehicle overview.
  • Engine compartment.
  • Cab.
  • Lights.
  • Walk around.
  • Signal lights.
  • Brakes.

The inspection should be conducted in a consistent and thorough manner. The best practice is to perform the inspection the same way each time, e.g., front to rear or top to bottom.

Delving further into each point includes key items to be aware of.

Vehicle overview. Walk around the vehicle looking for damage, checking if all items and cargo are secure, if any leaks are evident, that vehicle and trailer tags in place, and the International Registration Plan (IRP) sticker is current. Remember, review the last driver's DVIR and ensure all repairs were conducted.

Engine compartment. Ensure the brake is set and keys are in the driver's pocket. Look inside the engine compartment. Check fluid levels, hoses, and belts for cracks or wear; check if the alternator is loose and the A/C assembly is tight; check turbo, exhaust, and shocks for leaks; check the suspension - tie rods should be tight and look for damage; check brake lines and slack adjusters; check tires and rims - steer tires need more than 4/32-inch of tread depth; check tire pressure and that lug nuts are properly tightened; also, check the air compressor and confirm power steering does not have too much play.

Inside the cab. Look for the registration and insurance card. The best practice is to have a copy of the last Annual Inspection in the vehicle. Fire extinguishers must be up to date. Windows should be clean and operable. Dash gauges and switches should be operable. Safety equipment should include a first-aid kit, triangles, and spare fuses. Seats and seat belts should be adjusted correctly. The steering wheel shouldn't have excessive play, the horn should work, and windshield wipers must be in good condition.

Lights. Check low and high beams, that the flasher is operable, marker lights are working and have no cracks, and that license plate lights are operable. 

Walk around. Check the windshield for cracks or chips. Check tires, brakes, and suspension. Adjust mirrors, check steer tires, steps, and that the faring (if applicable) is attached snuggly. Batteries should be checked and ensure fuel tanks are mounted correctly. The airlines from tractor to trailer must be sealed, glad-hand seals must be operable, and the exhaust system should be tight.

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