Pre Trip Vehicle Inspection: Why and How
Regardless of whether you are learning to drive or have been driving for years, new or old vehicle, regardless of the shape your vehicle is in, it needs to be inspected every day before you drive out. Depending on the situation, it may also require checks if there is a shift or driver change. This daily check includes two separate inspections — a circle and an operations inspection.
As the name implies, the first thing all drivers should do is walk around their vehicles and see if anything could potentially be a problem. You should first want to take note of anything in or around the vehicle as well as its overall condition. The vehicle must be well maintained and reasonably clean. You also want to move anything out of the way that may be on the ground.
The inner workings of the vehicle need to be checked on a daily basis. The battery and cables need to be in good shape and working in top form. The connections should be snug with no fraying and the battery should be held in place. It should also be fully charged with full cells and ready to go. Chain anchor pins, hoses, nuts, bolts, and other items should all be in place and in good condition. Safety items like seatbelts, horns, and lights all need to work properly and have no sign of wear.
Once the driver has completed the circle check, it is time to inspect the actual operating mechanisms of the vehicle. In all, the brake systems need to be working perfectly before use. Also, ensure that the handbrake is working properly. The parking brake should hold when the slightest bit of throttle is applied and the foot brake should bring you to a smooth stop in a reasonable amount of distance.
When it comes to driving the vehicle, it should be able to steer with a reasonable amount of force and be smooth. It should also shift without hesitation of extreme movements from the clutch or gears. Next, move the vehicle back and forward all the way in both directions. All of the movements should be smooth and should hold in position. Once this is complete, listen for anything unusual and check the hydraulics for leakage.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a new vehicle, a used one, or how long you have been driving it. These checks are the only things that stand between a productive day and a dangerous situation. Vehicles are a valuable machine, and by maintaining them and keeping them in top condition, you can enjoy them for years to come without incident.
Still not sure how to perform a proper pre-trip vehicle inspection?
Consider taking a driving lesson with us and we can go over the necessary details with you.
Done – Pre-Trip Check
Incomplete – Thumbnail: Newsha Pointing to the Tire
Introduction to the Circle Check (Pre-Trip Check)
[Show the car as it’s entering the parking lot]
[Show the inside of the car]
[Show me the driver, instructors]
Alright, now that we’re here, let’s step out of the vehicle and discuss an important topic called the circle check.
[Show us getting out of the vehicle]
Do you have any idea what I mean by a circle check?
Uhhh, we go around the vehicle in a circle, checking for something?
[Show me approaching the vehicle in a mall parking lot]
Anytime we return to our vehicle after having parked it somewhere,
[Show me walking around the vehicle from the back, counterclockwise, checking it out.]
it is a very good idea to walk around it, in a counterclockwise direction, starting from the back.
And here are there things we are on the lookout for.
[Show the rear lights]
Do all the lights appear to be operation. Nothing is visibly broken.
[Show the rear licence plate]
Is the rear license plate in place?
Can you tell me
[Show the licence plate]
what these stickers mean on the back license plate?
Ummm, I think they are for the insurance.
Yes, they tell you when your insurance expires.
[Show the licence plate]
So for example in our case, the insurance runs out on the 24th day of September 2017 at midnight.
[Show the outside of the vehicle]
Alright moving on, we’ll want to look and see if our tires are in good shape.
[Show the tread of the tire]
We want to ensure that the tires do not have any uneven tread wear that may indicate an alignment or suspension issue.
[Show the sidewall of the tire]
We also want to make sure that there are no bulges on the sidewall of the tire.
[Show an underinflated tire]
How would we tell is the tire is underinflated?
The bottom of the tire is fatter?
Exactly, you’ll see the bottom of the tire being wider than the top portion.
[Show an inflated tire]
Is there a way we can tell if the tire is overinflated just by looking at the tire?
[Show the student]
I don’t know.
No, not really.
[Show someone measuring the tire pressure of the vehicle.]
In fact the proper way to tell if the tire is inflated correctly is to use a tire pressure gauge.
What should the tire be inflated to?
[Show the student][Show the side of the tire]
I think my dad said it’s written on the side of the tires.
Actually, what’s listed on the tire is the maximum tire pressure for that tire which is not necessarily what is appropriate for your vehicle.
[Show the owner’s manual]
The proper tire pressure is listed in your vehicle’s owner manual
[Show the car’s door jamb]
or in the driver’s-side door jamb.
[Show us moving along]
Moving along, we check the overall exterior of the vehicle for damage and ensure our mirror is in place.
[Show us in front of the vehicle, point to the lights]
We move forward to the vehicle and
[Show the front licence plate]
check to see if the front licence plate is in place. This licence plate will not have the insurance stickers.
[Show stepping back and looking underneath the vehicle]
And we want to look underneath the vehicle for any signs of leak.
What are some leaks we might find?
An oil leak?
Yes possibly, and you can tell if it’s engine oil by it’s color.
[Show different types of oil leaks]
It’s usually black or brown in color,
What else? There can be a coolant leak, right?
[Show different types of coolants]
Coolant can vary in color too ranging from blue, green, orange, or yellow depending on your type of vehicle.
[Show me asking this question]
Anytime you find such a leak, you’ll want to…..?
Get it checked out!
[Show me pulling into a mechanic shop]
Now sometimes if it’s a hot day
[Show the A/C on in the car]
and you’ve had your car A/C on if you
[Show me going into Walmart]
go into the store
[Show me coming back towards my car][put water on the neath the car]
and come back out, you might find a puddle of clear water underneath the car and that’s just the condensation from your car’s A/C. And that’s normal. Nothing to worry about.
[Show us approaching the driver side of the vehicle]
Now as we approach the driver side of the vehicle, we’ll do the same thing as we did on the other side,
but why do you think we went around the car in a counterclockwise direction?
So we could see the traffic?
[Show us approach our car door in fort street for example]
We want to avoid having our back to the traffic so we can see if it’s safe to enter our vehicle.