4-Step Basic Safety Inspection For Your Used Commercial Semi-Truck Before Heading Down The Highway

Automotive Articles

After purchasing a used commercial semi-truck from a place like Arrow Truck Sales, you will need to make sure it is safe for driving on the highway. Before you take it out on the road, use this four-step safety inspection to make sure the vehicle is ready for use.

Step 1:  Inspect Any Recaps On The Drive Tires

This first step involves making sure any recaps on the drive tires are properly attached. If not, they could fly off of the wheel while on the interstate and possibly strike another vehicle. 

On each recapped tire, look closely to find the horizontal seam where the recap meets. It should be hard to find if done correctly. However, if you see any gaps or edges sticking up on a tire, you will need to have it redone.

After making sure the seam is tight, look at the entire surface of the tire. You should not see any flattened areas or bubbling. If so, the recap is no longer stuck to the underlying rubber and could come off after a few miles of driving.

Step 2:  Measure The Tread On The Steer Tires

After inspecting the recaps on the drive tires, measure the tread on the front steer tires. These see the most amount of wear and tear, mostly because it is illegal to recap them. When taking your measurements, do so at four points around the tire to ensure they are all even.

For a semi-truck, the grooves need to be at least 4/32 of an inch deep. This thickness ensures the tires will not blow out under the weight of the cab or friction with the road. It is also the legal minimum for every state in the United States.

If you find even one area that is too thin, you will need to replace the tire. Doing so will keep your driver safe and your truck legal to drive.

Step 3:  Check The Color Of The Semi-Truck's Exhaust

Once you have made sure all of the tires are sound, start the truck and let it run for about 10 minutes. After this time is up, check the color of the exhaust coming from the pipe. This will give you a good indicator about the condition of your fuel and injector system.

When the air and fuel ratio is working at optimal levels, the smoke will be light gray. If this is what you see, proceed to step four.

If the exhaust smoke is black, too much fuel is burning at one time. This is typically caused by a problem with the filter not allowing enough air to mix with it. You will either need to change the filter or unclog the air line.

If the smoke has a bluish tint, there is too much air mixing with the fuel. When this is the case, the injection system will need to be adjusted by your mechanic or the company where you bought the semi-truck.

Step 4:  Test The Brakes With And Without A Full Trailer Load

After you have ensured your fuel is burning correctly, the last step is to test the brakes. This should be done with and without a full trailer load. 

Before attaching the trailer, drive the cab 50 feet and slam on the brakes. The truck should stop fairly quickly. Then, attach the trailer and repeat. If you have a heavy load, repeat the distance and apply the jake brakes to make sure they are working properly.

If the brakes feel sluggish, you may want to have them adjusted before you send the truck out. If the brakes appear to be excessively worn down, they will need to be replaced.

Once you have completed the safety inspection and found everything satisfactory, you should be ready to hit the road. However, if you find anything questionable and are unsure of anything, you may want to discuss it with the business from which you purchased your used commercial semi-truck to discuss any solutions you may have overlooked.


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