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Section 11: Vehicle Inspection Test

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Section 11: Vehicle Inspection Test

This Section Covers

11.1 – All Vehicles

11.2 – Internal Inspection (All Vehicles)

11.3 – External Inspection (All Vehicles)

11.4 – School Bus Only

11.5 – Trailer

11.6 – Coach/Transit Bus

11.7 – Taking the CDL Vehicle Inspection Test


11.1 – All Vehicles

The vehicle inspection test is a skills test to see if the customer identifies which features and equipment on the test vehicle should be inspected before operating the vehicle. The entire vehicle inspection test must be conducted in the English language, pursuant to CFR, Title 49 §§391.11(b)(2) and 383.133(c)(5).

If you communicate in a language other than English or fail to comprehend instructions given to you in English, during the skills tests (vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and road test) you will receive a verbal warning for the first 2 offenses committed on the same test date. Upon the third offense committed on the same test date, the test will end as an automatic failure.

A vehicle inspection should be done the same way each time so you will learn all the steps and be less likely to forget something during the test.

Vehicle inspection tests are conducted to ensure that a vehicle is safe to operate. During the vehicle inspection test, you will be expected to explain or show your knowledge of the vehicle inspection process.

During the vehicle inspection test, you must show that the vehicle is safe to drive. You will have to walk around the vehicle and point to or touch each item and explain to the examiner what you are checking and why. You will NOT have to crawl under the hood or under the vehicle. The brake lights, emergency flashers, turn signals, and horn must be checked. If any of these items do not work, the skills and road portions of the test will be postponed.

You may use the guides shown on the last page of this section when taking your vehicle inspection test. You cannot write any instructions or notes on the vehicle inspection guide. If you do not pass the vehicle inspection test, the other tests will be postponed.

Remember: You are allowed a total of 3 attempts to pass the vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and road tests.

11.2 Internal Inspection (All Vehicles)

Study the following vehicle parts for the type of vehicle you will be using during the CDL skills tests. You should be able to identify each part and tell the examiner what you are looking for or inspecting.

As you approach the vehicle, notice its general condition. Look for damage or if the vehicle is leaning to one side. Look under the vehicle for fresh oil, coolant, grease, or fuel leaks. Check area around the vehicle for hazards to vehicle movement such as people, other vehicles, objects, low hanging wires, or limbs, etc.

Check that the parking brakes are set and/or wheels chocked. You may have to raise the hood or open the engine compartment door. Check the following:

11.2.1 – Engine Compartment (Engine Off)

Leaks/Hoses

  • Look for puddles on the ground.
  • Look for dripping fluids on underside of the engine and transmission.
  • Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.
  • Water Pump.
    — Identify the water pump.
    — Identify that the water pump is mounted securely and is not leaking.
  • Alternator.
    — Identify the alternator.
    — Check that the alternator is securely mounted and that all wires are securely fastened.
  • Air Compressor.
    — Identify the air compressor.
    — Check that the air compressor is securely mounted and is not leaking.

Oil Level

  • Indicate where the dipstick is located.
  • See that the oil level is within safe operating range. the level must be above the refill mark.

Coolant Level

  • Inspect reservoir sight glass.
  • OR:
  • If the engine is not hot, remove the radiator cap and check for a visible coolant level.

Power Steering Fluid

  • Indicate where the power steering fluid dipstick is located.
  • Check for an adequate power steering fluid level. The level must be above the refill mark.

Windshield Washer Fluid Level

Check the fluid level and that the cap is secure.

Engine Compartment Belts

  • Check the following belts for snugness (up to 3/4 inch play at center of belt), cracks, or frays:
    — Power steering belt.
    — Water pump belt.
    — Alternator belt.
    — Air compressor belt.

Note: If any of the components listed above are not belt driven, you must:

  • Tell the examiner which component(s) are not belt driven.
  • Make sure the component(s) are operating properly, not damaged or leaking, and mounted securely.

Safe Start

  • Make sure the parking brake is set.
  • Depress the clutch.
  • Place the gearshift lever in Neutral (or Park, for automatic transmissions).
  • Start the engine, then release the clutch slowly.

11.2.2 – Cab Check/Engine Start

Oil Pressure Gauge

  • Make sure the oil pressure gauge is working.
  • Check that the pressure gauge shows increasing or normal oil pressure or that the warning light goes off.
  • If equipped, the oil temperature gauge should begin a gradual rise to the normal operating range.

Temperature Gauge

  • Make sure the temperature gauge is working.
  • The temperature should begin to climb to the normal operating range or the temperature light should be off.

Air Gauge

  • Make sure the air gauge is working properly.
  • Build air pressure to the governor cut-out, roughly 120–140 psi.

Ammeter/Voltmeter

Check that the gauges show that the alternator and/or generator is charging or that the warning light is off.

The Mirrors and the Windshield

  • Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside.
  • Windshield should be clean with no illegal stickers, no obstructions, or damage to the glass.

Emergency Equipment

  • Check for spare electrical fuses.
  • Check for 3 red reflective triangles, 6 fuses or 3 liquid burning flares.
  • Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.

Note: If the vehicle is not equipped with electrical fuses, you must mention this to the examiner.

Check Optional Emergency Equipment

  • Tire chains (where winter conditions require them).
  • Tire changing equipment.
  • List of emergency phone numbers.
  • Accident reporting kit (packet).

Wipers/Washers

  • Check that the wiper arms and blades are secure, not damaged, and operate smoothly.
  • If equipped, the windshield washers must operate correctly.

Lights/Reflectors/Reflector Tape Condition (Sides and Rear)

  • Test that the dash indicators work when the corresponding lights are turned on:
    — Left turn signal.
    — Right turn signal.
    — 4-way emergency flashers.
    — High-beam headlight.
    — ABS indicator.
  • Check that all external lights and reflective equipment are clean and functional. Light and reflector checks include:
    — Clearance lights (red on rear, amber elsewhere).
    — Headlights (high and low beams).
    — Backing lights.
    — Turn signals.
    — 4-way emergency flashers.
    — Brake lights.
    — Red reflectors (on rear) and amber reflectors (elsewhere).
    — Reflector tape condition.
    — License plate light(s).

Note: Checks of the brake, turn signal, and 4-way emergency flasher functions must be done separately.

Horn

Check that the air horn and/or electric horn(s) work.

Heater/Defroster

Test that the heater and defroster work.

Parking Brake Check

  • Fasten your seat belt.
  • With the parking brake engaged (trailer brakes released on combination vehicles), check that the parking brake will hold the vehicle by gently trying to pull forward with the parking brake on.
  • With the parking brake released and the trailer parking brake engaged (combination vehicles only), check that the trailer parking brake will hold the vehicle by gently trying to pull forward with the trailer parking brake on.

Hydraulic Brake Check

  • Pump the brake pedal 3 times, and then hold it down for 5 seconds. The brake pedal should not move (depress) during the 5 seconds.
  • If equipped with a hydraulic brake reserve (back up) system, with the key off, depress the brake pedal and listen for the sound of the reserve system electric motor.
  • If equipped with a“HydroBoost” brake system, release the parking brake and with the engine off, depress and release the brake pedal several times to deplete all hydraulic pressure. Depress and hold the brake pedal with light pressure (15–25 pounds) and then start the engine and run it at idle speed. If the Hydro-Boost is operating, the pedal will yield slightly to foot pressure and then hold. Less pressure is required to hold the pedal at this position.
  • Check that the warning buzzer or light is off.

Air Brake Check (Air Brake Equipped Vehicles Only)

Refer to Section 5, “In-Cab Air Brake Check” for DMV vehicle inspection testing. All items marked with an asterisk (*) are required during the vehicle inspection test. These items must be demonstrated and the parameters verbalized to receive credit. Failure to perform these air brake tests correctly will result in an automatic failure for the entire vehicle inspection portion of the test.

Service Brake Check

You will be required to check the application of air or hydraulic service brake. This procedure is designed to determine that the brakes are working correctly and that the vehicle does not pull to one side or the other.

Pull forward at 5 mph, apply the service brake and stop. Check to see that the vehicle does not pull to either side and that it stops when the brake is applied.

Safety Belt

Check that the safety belt is securely mounted, adjusts, and latches properly, and is not ripped or frayed.

11.3 – External Inspection (All Vehicles)

11.3.1 – Steering

Steering Box/Hoses

  • Check that the steering box is securely mounted and not leaking. Look for any missing nuts, bolts, and cotter keys.
  • Check for power steering fluid leaks or damage to the power steering hoses.

Steering Linkage

  • See that connecting links, arms, and rods from the steering box to the wheel are not worn or cracked.
  • Check that joints and sockets are not worn or loose and that there are no missing nuts, bolts, or cotter keys.

11.3.2 – Suspension

Springs/Air/Torque

  • Look for missing, shifted, cracked, or broken leaf springs. If ¼ or more are missing or broken, it will put the vehicle “out of service.”
  • Look for broken or distorted coil springs.
  • If vehicle is equipped with torsion bars, torque arms,or other types of suspension components, check that they are not damaged and are mounted securely.
  • Air ride suspension should be checked for damage and leaks.

Mounts

Look for cracked or broken spring hangers, missing or damaged bushings, and broken, loose, or missing bolts, u-bolts, or other axle mounting parts. (The mounts should be checked at each point where they are secured to the vehicle frame and axle[s]).

Shock Absorbers

See that shock absorbers are secure and that there are no leaks.

Note: Be prepared to perform the same suspension components inspection on every axle (power unit and trailer, if equipped).

11.3.3 – Brakes

Slack Adjustors and Pushrods

  • Check that the slack adjuster is securely mounted.
  • Look for broken, loose, or missing parts.
  • For manual slack adjustors, the brake pushrod should not move more than 1 inch (with the brakes released) when pulled by hand.

Brake Chambers

  • See that the brake chambers are not leaking, cracked, or dented, and are mounted securely.
  • See that there are no loose or missing clamps.

Brake Hoses/Lines

  • Check that the hoses or lines can supply air or hydraulic fluid to brakes.
  • Check for cracked, worn or frayed hoses and all couplings and fittings are secured and not leaking.

Drum Brake

  • Check for cracks, dents, or holes. Also check for loose or missing bolts.
  • Check for contaminates, such as debris or oil/grease.

Brake Linings

Brake linings (where visible) should not be worn dangerously thin. On some brake drums, there are openings where the brake linings can be seen from outside the drum. For this type of drum, check that a visible amount of brake lining is showing.

Note: Be prepared to perform the same brake components inspection on every axle (power unit and trailer, if equipped).

11.3.4 – Wheels

Rims

  • Check for damaged or bent rims.
  • Rims cannot have welding repairs.
  • Check that there are no rust trails that would indicate the wheel is loose.

Tires

  • The following items must be inspected on every tire:
    — Tread depth: Check for the minimum tread depth (4/32 on steering axle tires, 2/32 on all other tires).
    — Tire condition: Check that the tread is evenly worn and look for cuts or other damage to tread or sidewalls. Also, make sure that valve caps and stems are not missing, broken, or damaged.
    — Tires are the same type(not mixed radial and bias). Front tires for buses cannot be recapped, retreaded, or regrooved.
    — Tire inflation: Check for proper inflation by using a tire gauge.

Note: You will not get credit if you simply kick the tires or strike the tire with a mallet or other similar device to check for proper inflation.

Hub Oil/Axle Seals

See that the hub oil/grease and axle seals are not leaking and, if the wheel has a sight glass, that the oil level is adequate.

Lug Nuts

  • Check that all lug nuts are present, free of cracks and distortions, and show no signs of looseness such as rust trails or shiny threads.
  • Make sure all bolt holes are not cracked or distorted.

Spacers or Budd Spacing

  • If equipped, check that spacers are not bent, damaged, or rusted through.
  • Spacers should be evenly centered, with the dual wheels and tires evenly separated.
  • No debris is between dual tires.

Note: Be prepared to perform the same wheel inspection on every axle (power unit and trailer, if equipped).

11.3.5 – Side of Vehicle

Door(s)/Mirror(s)/Window(s)

  • Check that the door(s) are not damaged and that they open and close properly from the outside.
  • Hinges should be secure with the seals intact.
  • Check that the mirror(s) and mirror brackets are not damaged, are mounted securely with no loose fittings, and are free of excessive dirt.
  • Windows must be clean and work properly.

Fuel Tank

Check that the tank(s) are secure, cap(s) are tight, and that there are no leaks from tank(s), cap, or lines.

Drive Shaft

  • See that the drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
  • Couplings (U-joints) should be secure and free of foreign objects.

Exhaust System

  • Check the system for damage and signs of leaks such as rust or carbon soot.
  • The exhaust system should not have cracks, holes, or severe dents.
  • The system should be connected tightly and mounted securely and there are no loose clamps.

Frame

Look for cracks, broken welds, holes, or other damage to the longitudinal frame members, cross members, box, and floor.

11.3.6 – Rear of Vehicle

Splash Guards

If equipped, check that the splash guards or mud flaps are not damaged and are mounted securely.

Doors/Ties/Lifts

  • Check that the doors and hinges are not damaged and that they open, close, and latch properly from the outside, if equipped.
  • Ties, straps, chains, and binders must also be secure.
  • If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged, or missing parts, and explain how it should be checked for correct operation.
  • Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.

11.3.7 – Tractor/Coupling

Air/Electric Connectors

  • Check the trailer air connectors are sealed and in good condition.
  • Check the fittings out of the truck and trailer are secured.
  • Check that all connections from the truck to trailer are secured.
  • Check that the trailer electrical plug is firmly sealed and locked in place on both the truck and trailer.

Air/Electric Lines

  • Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced, or worn (steel braid should not show through).
  • Make sure the air and electrical lines are not tangled, pinched, or dragging against tractor parts.

Catwalk/Steps

  • Check that the catwalk is solid, clear of objects, and securely bolted to tractor frame.
  • Check that the steps leading to the cab entry and catwalk (if equipped) are solid, clear of objects, and securely bolted to the tractor frame.
  • Check that the storage area is solid to the tongue and the cargo in the storage area is secured.

Mounting Bolts

  • Look for loose or missing mounting brackets, clamps, bolts, or nuts. Both the fifth-wheel and slide mounting must be solidly attached.
  • On other types of coupling systems (ball hitch, pintle hook, etc.), inspect all coupling components and mounting brackets for missing or broken parts.
  • Check for loose or missing mounting bolts. Look for broken welds on the pintle hook or other hitch mount, and tongue/drawbar assembly to be sure they are solidly attached in place.

Hitch Release Lever

Check to see that the hitch release lever is in place and is secure.

Locking Jaws

  • Look into the fifth-wheel gap and check that the locking jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.
  • On other types of coupling systems (ball hitch, pintle hook, etc.), inspect the locking mechanism for missing or broken parts and make sure it is locked securely. If present, safety cables or chains must be secure and free of kinks and excessive slack.
  • Safety devices.
  • Check that the latch is secured and locked in place and that the cotter pin is not missing, is in place, and not damaged.
  • Safety chains must be hooked and crisscrossed, free of kinks and excessive slack. Cotter pins to hooks must be in place with the hooks secured pointing in an outward position.
  • If the trailer is equipped with electric brakes, check that the breakaway chains or cables with battery backup are not missing or damaged.

Fifth-Wheel Skid Plate

Check for proper lubrication, that fifth-wheel skid plate is securely mounted to the platform, and that all bolts and pins are secure and not missing.

Platform (Fifth-Wheel) (Pintle Hook)

  • Check for cracks or breaks in the platform structure which supports the fifth-wheel skid plate.
  • Check the pintle hook for cracks, breaks, or excessive wear.

Release Arm (Fifth-Wheel)

If equipped, make sure the release arm is in the engaged position and the safety latch is in place.

Kingpin/Apron/Gap

  • Check that the kingpin is not bent.
  • Make sure the visible part of the apron is not bent, cracked, or broken.
  • Check that the trailer is lying flat on the fifth-wheel skid plate (no gap).

Locking Pins (Fifth-Wheel)

  • If equipped, look for loose or missing pins in the slide mechanism of the sliding fifth-wheel. If air powered, check for leaks.
  • Make sure the locking pins are fully engaged.
  • Check that the fifth-wheel is positioned properly so that the tractor frame will clear the landing gear during turns.

Sliding Pintle

Check that the sliding pintle is secured with no loose or missing nuts or bolts and the cotter pin is in place.

Tongue or Draw-Bar

  • Check that the tongue/draw-bar is not bent or twisted and check for broken welds and stress cracks.
  • Check that the tongue/draw-bar is not worn excessively.

Tongue Storage Area

  • Check that the storage area is solid and secured to the tongue.
  • Check that cargo in the storage area (chains, binders, etc.) are secure.

11.4 – School Bus Only

Emergency Equipment

  • In addition to checking for spare electrical fuses (if equipped), 3 red reflective triangles, and a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher; school bus drivers must also inspect the following emergency equipment:
    — Emergency kit
    — Body fluid cleanup kit

Lighting Indicators

  • In addition to checking the lighting indicators listed in Section 10.2 of this handbook, school bus drivers must also check the following lighting indicators (internal panel lights):
    — Alternately flashing amber lights indicator, if equipped.
    — Alternately flashing red lights indicator.
    — Strobe light indicator, if equipped.

Lights/Reflectors

  • In addition to checking the lights and reflective devices listed in Section 10.2 of this handbook, school bus drivers must also check the following (external) lights and reflectors:
    — Strobe light, if equipped.
    — Stop arm light, if equipped.
    — Alternately flashing amber lights, if equipped.
    — Alternately flashing red lights.

Student Mirrors

  • In addition to checking the external mirrors, school bus drivers must also check the internal and external mirrors used for observing students:
    — Check for proper adjustment.
    — Check that all internal and external mirrors and mirror brackets are not damaged and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.
    — Check that visibility is not impaired due to dirty mirrors.

Stop Arm

If equipped, check the stop arm to see that it is mounted securely to the frame of the vehicle. Also, check for loose fittings and damage.

Passenger Entry/Lift

  • Check that the entry door is not damaged, operates smoothly, and closes securely from the inside.
  • Hand rails are secure and the step light is working, if equipped.
  • The entry steps must be clear with the treads not loose or worn excessively.
  • If equipped with a handicap lift, look for leaking, damaged, or missing parts and explain how lift should be checked for correct operation. The lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.

Emergency Exit

  • Make sure that all emergency exits are not damaged, operate smoothly, and close securely from the inside.
  • Check that any emergency exit warning devices are working.
  • Make sure that any exterior or interior locking devices, if equipped, are not “locked” and that the door is free to open.

Seating

  • Look for broken seat frames and check that seat frames are firmly attached to the floor.
  • Check that the seat cushions are attached securely to the seat frames.

11.5 – Trailer

11.5.1 – Trailer Front

Air/Electrical Connections

  • Check that the trailer air connectors are sealed and in good condition.
  • Make sure the glad hands are locked in place, and free of damage or air leaks.
  • Make sure the trailer electrical plug is firmly seated and locked in place.

Header Board

  • If equipped, check the header board to see that it is secure, free of damage, and strong enough to contain cargo.
  • If equipped, the canvas or tarp carrier must be mounted and fastened securely.
  • On enclosed trailers, check the front area for signs of damage such as cracks, bulges, holes, or missing rivets.

11.5.2 – Side of Trailer

Landing Gear

  • Check that the landing gear is fully raised, has no missing parts, the crank handle is secure, and the support frame is not damaged.
  • If power operated, check for air or hydraulic leaks.

Doors/Ties/Lifts

  • If equipped, check that the doors are not damaged. Check that the doors open, close, and latch properly from the outside.
  • Check that ties, straps, chains, and binders are secure.
  • If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged, or missing parts, and explain how it should be checked for correct operation.
  • Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.

Frame

Look for cracks, broken welds, holes, or other damage to the frame, cross members, box, and floor.

Tandem Release Arm/Locking Pins

If equipped, make sure the locking pins are locked in place and the release arm is secured.

11.5.3 – Remainder of Trailer

Remainder of Trailer

  • Please refer to Section 11.3 on External Inspection of this handbook for detailed inspection procedures regarding the following components:
    — Wheels.
    — Suspension system.
    — Brakes.
    — Doors/ties/lift.
    — Splash guards.

11.6 – Coach/Transit Bus

11.6.1 – Passenger items

Passenger Entry/Lift

  • Check that the entry doors operate smoothly and close securely from the inside.
  • Check that the hand rails are secure and, if equipped, that the step light(s) are working.
  • Check that the entry steps are clear, and the treads are not loose or worn excessively.
  • If equipped with a handicap lift, look for any leaking, damaged, or missing part, and explain how it should be checked for correct operation.
  • Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.
  • Make sure the lift control interlock(s) functions properly.

Emergency Exits

  • Demonstrate that at least 1 emergency exit operates smoothly, closes securely, and is not damaged.
  • The release handle can be operated properly both from inside and out of the vehicle.
  • Points out and describes how all other emergency exits operate.
  • Checks any one emergency exit warning device.

    Passenger Seating

    • Look for broken seat frames and check that the seat frames are firmly attached to the floor.
    • Check that the seat cushions are attached securely to the seat frames.

    11.6.2 – Entry/ Exit

    Doors/Mirrors

    • Check that the entry/exit doors are not damaged and operate smoothly from the outside. The hinges should be secure with seals intact.
    • Make sure that the passenger exit mirrors, all external mirrors, and mirror brackets are not damaged and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.

    11.6.3 – External Inspection of Coach/Transit Bus

    Level/Air Leaks

    See that the vehicle is sitting level (front and rear) and, if air-equipped, check for audible air leaks from the suspension system.

    Fuel Tank(s)

    See that fuel tank(s) are secure with no leaks from tank(s) or lines.

    Baggage Compartments

    Check that the baggage and all other exterior compartment doors are not damaged, operate properly, and latch securely.

    11.6.4 – Remainder of Coach/ Transit Bus

    Remainder of Vehicle

    • Please refer to Section 11.3 on External Inspection of this handbook for detailed inspection procedures for the remainder of the vehicle.

    Remember: The vehicle inspection test must be passed before you can proceed to the basic control skills test.

    11.7 – Taking the CDL Vehicle Inspection Test

    11.7.1 – Class A Vehicle Inspection Test

    If you are applying for a Class A CDL, you will be required to perform a vehicle inspection in the vehicle you brought with you for testing. Tests include an engine start, in-cab-inspection, and inspection of the coupling system. Then, your test may require an inspection of the entire vehicle or only a portion of the vehicle which your CDL examiner will explain to you.

    11.7.2 – Class B and C Vehicle Inspection Test

    If you are applying for a Class B or Class C CDL, you will be required to perform a vehicle inspection in the vehicle you brought with you for testing. Tests include an engine start and in-cab inspection. Then, your test may require an inspection of the entire vehicle or only a portion of the vehicle which your CDL examiner will explain to you. You will also have to inspect any special features of your vehicle (e.g., school or transit bus).

     CDL Vehicle Inspection Memory Aid

     

     


     

     

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