As part of your trucking company’s maintenance program, you will need to complete annual DOT inspections. This inspection allows you to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and ensures that your vehicle is safe when it hits the road.
The DOT inspection can be intense and very thorough; the inspector will take their time looking at the different components of the truck and inspecting whether they work correctly. If your truck or commercial vehicle passes the inspection, it is safe to drive on the road, and it will work the way you want.
If you have never had a DOT inspection, you may feel worried about what happens during the inspection. You want to pass to ensure that your truck is safe and that you will be able to keep your truck on the road. Yet, what are some of the things you can do to help pass your DOT inspection?
What Does a DOT Inspection Consist Of?
To help you pass your DOT inspection, you need to make sure that you know what it consists of and the different components of the inspection. You will need to find an approved inspection facility to take the vehicle before you begin the inspection.
Be prepared for the inspection to take between half an hour to 90 minutes, depending on the depth of the inspection, the inspector, and the vehicle.
The annual DOT inspection will thoroughly inspect the whole commercial building, checking whether it is still in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. This process will check that all trailers, buses, and trucks meet minimum DOT requirements and are safe for driving.
The inspector will visually look over the interior and exterior. They can check the air brake, lighting, and steering systems. Next, the inspector will look at the vehicle’s tires, the suspension system, and the wheels to see how bad the wear and tear is on them. They even check the windshield wipers to ensure they will work through the rain.
How Do I Make Sure I Pass My DOT Inspection?
Keeping your truck, trailer, and other commercial vehicles up to date and maintained is the best way to pass the DOT inspection. As long as you fix anything that breaks on the vehicle throughout the year and have it checked by a qualified mechanic, you should have no problem passing your DOT inspection.
Take good care of your commercial vehicle, and you will likely pass the DOT Inspection. However, if you put off maintenance and do not adequately care for your commercial vehicle, it is far easier to fail the examination. If that happens, you can only return the vehicle to the road once the issues are repaired and inspected again, which can slow down the process and cost more money.
Which Components Will They Check During an Annual DOT Inspection?
The inspectors will check many components during an annual DOT inspection to ensure they work correctly. The DOT inspector must be thorough with their work to ensure they notice everything that could be a safety issue or result in non-compliance.
Some of the items inspected include:
- All the components of the braking system to make sure the vehicle can stop adequately.
- Coupling devices in the vehicle include the fifth wheels, eye and tongue, safety devices, and pintle hooks.
- The exhaust system
- Rear impact guard
- Motorcoach seats in any vehicle that carries passengers and fits with DOT regulations.
- Windshield wipers
- Windshield glazing
- Wheels and rims
- Steering mechanism
- Safe loading
- Lighting devices
- Fuel system
If there have been previous problems with the commercial vehicle, the DOT inspector may also take the time to check on those. Routine maintenance will help keep the commercial vehicle in good working order so you can increase your chances of passing the DOT inspection.
Which Vehicles Need a DOT Inspection?
Only certain vehicles will need to complete a DOT inspection. For example, you do not need to get this inspection done on the car you use to commute to and from work.
Some of the vehicles that do need to get an annual DOT inspection include:
- School buses
- Passenger buses
- Vehicles that will transport hazardous materials
- Vehicles that transport more than 16 passengers, including the driver
- Commercial motor vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds
If you meet one or more of these requirements with the vehicle you drive, then be prepared to complete an annual DOT inspection to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate on the road.
Getting the Inspection Form
Once the inspection is complete, the DOT inspector should give you a form and provide you with the DOT inspection stickers that you need to prove that the inspection is complete. Always keep a copy of your annual DOT inspection form in the truck to ensure you have it ready when asked. You can keep a DOT annual inspection sticker on the commercial vehicle at all times too.
You may be asked for one or both of these items once your vehicle has stopped. This evidence helps them know that you have gotten the inspection done and the vehicle is safe to drive on the road.
With either the form or the sticker, it is easier to prove you got the inspection done, which can lead to problems. Since State DOT and FMCSA officers are sticklers about DOT maintenance records, it is a good idea to keep one, or both, on your commercial vehicle at all times.
The Bottom Line
An annual DOT inspection is essential to ensure that your trucks and commercial vehicles are safe on the road and that nothing is wrong with your truck.
It does take some time, and a failure can make it so your trucks are not allowed to be on the road. Nonetheless, when you know what to expect during the inspection and keep up with routine maintenance, passing the DOT inspection on all your commercial vehicles is easier.