How to Perform a Pre-Trip (Pt 1) - Outside the Vehicle

In this video, we’re going to review how to complete a Service Sanitation Pre-Trip Inspection, reviewing many of the main components outside the vehicle.

To get started, there are a few preliminary things we’ll need to verify before we begin inspecting the truck.


We’ll first need to make sure we have our driver’s license, medical card, tablet, phone, and proper PPE. As we approach the truck with our essentials in hand, we’ll want to check for any leaks under the hood and if the truck is leaning in a noticeable way. This can often mean there is an underinflated tire or bad suspension. Next, we’ll look to our load sheets and verify that all the proper equipment is loaded up and ready to go. Once we’ve confirmed we have all the essentials, we’ll enter the cab of the vehicle and pull out our vehicle condition report, also known as a VCR. As we look to this paperwork, we’ll review any notes the previous driver may have noted and ensure any repairs which were written up have been repaired. If not, we’ll want to write them up again and see a mechanic immediately. Once reviewed, we’ll sign the bottom of the form then proceed with our Pre-Trip.

Start the Truck:

As we begin the pre-trip, it’s important to note that some seasoned drivers will run their pre-trip in a different order, but for our example today, we’ll use our VCR as our guide to ensure we stay on task in the most logical way possible. First, we’ll start the vehicle, turning on the headlights, hazards lights, and water box. This will give the truck a few minutes to warm up.

With the truck running, we’ll begin walking around our vehicle, making sure our lights and any reflectors are properly installed and functioning. We’ll check the headlights, clearance lights, plate lights and hazard lights across the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle, including the trailer.

As we’re walking around the vehicle, it’s important that we inspect each tire as we come across it, ensuring it’s inflated properly and has adequate tread. We’ll make sure the tread is evenly worn without cuts or damage to the sidewall. We’ll then look to the rim and ensure there are no cracks, damage, or leaks. Lastly, we’ll make sure that the lug nuts are present with no signs of looseness or cracks. We’ll continue to check each wheel as we make our way around the truck. We’ll also stop at the front and rear of vehicle, and trailer if applicable, to ensure a valid license plate is present.

The last items we’re going to inspect on our vehicle as we walk around are any leaks under the truck, exposed wiring, or hose abrasions that could jeopardize the safety of the vehicle. Even small issues could drastically turn fatal if not fixed right away. If anything seems out of line, we’ll always err on the safe side by reporting it and having a mechanic look at it before leaving for the day.

To report an issue, we’ll need to check that we inspected it on our pre-trip and then write up the issue under the “written request for repairs” header on the VCR form. If all checks out, we’ll move on.

Under the Hood

With our vehicle still running, we’ll now focus our attention to under the hood. Before opening the hood, we’ll need to remove our handcart from the front of the truck, checking it to make sure it’s fully functional. With the engine compartment unlatched and open, we’ll carefully look at our hoses and make sure they’re in good condition and not leaking. Next, we’ll inspect the wiring, ensuring there are no faulty, loose, or exposed wires, nuts, bolts, springs or any other mechanical issues under the hood. As we make our way to the driver side, we’ll also want to inspect the steering mechanisms and belts, ensuring they’re secure and free of leaks or damage.


Lastly, we’ll need to check our coolant levels to ensure the reservoir is full, the transmission fluid to ensure it’s in safe operating range, and our engine oil. Prior to checking the engine oil though, we’ll need to return to the truck’s cab to shut off the engine. By shutting the vehicle off, it’ll allow oil to flow back into the oil pan, giving us a more accurate reading. If all checks out, we’ll close the hood, re-secure the handcart, and continue on.


Vehicle Equipment (Second Pass)

Now that we’ve confirmed our vehicle is safe for the road, it’s time to check our equipment and supplies. This includes our PTO, water pump, hose reels, suction hoses and wands on both sides of the truck, tanks, and lift gate/tailgate. We’ll begin by testing the PTO by turning it on. In doing so, we’ll verify the pump is functional and the tank is able to create negative vacuum pressure. After about 30 seconds, we’ll open the valve at the truck and the valve on the wand. Always aim the end of the wand away from anyone nearby just in case it happens to be building pressure and instead of vacuum. Once we see the tank is under negative vacuum pressure, we can close the valves and turn off the PTO. We’ll then check our water pump by opening the utility box and pulling a small amount of hose from the box and turning the water pump switch inside the box to the on position. We should hear the water pump turn on, and may even notice that there is pressure present in the hose. Next, we’ll push the small hose reel switch to wind the hose up.


With our hose rolled up, we’ll next look to the sight bubbles on our tanks to ensure we’re full of fresh water and empty of waste. If either tank is not done correctly, we’ll need to have those filled or emptied accordingly before leaving the yard. Next, we’ll head to the rear of our truck and check the functionality of the lift gate. This includes raising and lowering it fully if without a trailer or a quick up and down if connected to a trailer.





As we seek to finish inspecting the outside of the vehicle, we’ll make sure our equipment is secure on our truck and trailer by checking straps. These straps need to be fully tightened with the slack tied up. We’ll also want to check our chemical bottles, supplies, and any add-ons, ensuring we have what we need for the day.