Every professional driver knows he is only as good as the vehicle he operates. That's why smart fleet managers take the time to remind drivers how to spot problems sooner and keep their vehicles in tip-top shape.
When drivers perform a basic vehicle inspection from time to time, they will feel more confident and safer on the road. While annual inspections require a mechanic, here are some simple inspection tasks that every driver should know how to perform.
We've divided them into 11 components of the vehicle.
- Air filter: Pull out the filter element and if there is a good deal of dirt and debris, it is time to replace it.
- Brake fluid: Pop off the cap and make sure the vessel is full; otherwise, add more fluid and be sure to replace the cap.
- Battery terminals: Look for any corrosion and if it is significant, point it out to a mechanic.
- Power steering fluid: Examine the notch for the accurate level, and if the steering fluid is under the minimum be sure to top it off with more and replace the cap.
- Windshield washer fluid: Check it regularly and whenever it is low, add more fluid.
- Coolant level: Use a flashlight so you can better see into the tank and add coolant if needed.
- Drive belt: Make sure there are no cracks or tears in it; if so, make sure to have the drive belt replaced before your next long trip.
- Radiator hoses: Squeeze the hoses and they should feel relatively firm; if squishy, they are worn out and ready to be replaced.
- Wipers: Make sure there are no cracks or tears in the windshield wipers; even slight separation means it's time for new ones.
- Air pressure: Most vehicles include a recommended psi posted inside the driver's front door. Pull off the tire's valve cap, check the pressure with a tire inflator, and fill them with more air if needed — and don't forget the spare.
- Tire tread depth: Using a tire depth gauge, check the depth in the middle of the tire. If it is 3/32s or less, it is time to replace the tires.
Watch a video to learn more about how to perform a vehicle inspection.