The annual DOT truck inspection is something that every fleet manager is familiar with. It comes around every year like clockwork. But still, even managers with years in the business tend to feel a little stressed every time they roll around. It’s normal to want your vehicles to perform well during inspections. Especially since a failed inspection can cost around $850 in addition to the fines and repairs needed.
The DOT truck inspection does come with costs. As a rule of thumb, fleet managers will have to cover the inspection charges. On top of that, additional costs from repairs and possible fines may build up. We’ve compiled a list of questions that arise regarding annual truck inspections. We’ve also listed some tips for passing the DOT inspection at various levels.
Who Conducts DOT Inspections?
The DOT stands for Department of Transportation. It’s no surprise that they are the department responsible for carrying out your yearly truck inspections. Within the DOT, there are three groups dealing with various aspects of inspection:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are in complete oversight of inspections and stand behind funding.
- Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). This group created the 7-level DOT inspection program.
- State Troopers: They are often the ones performing the actual inspections.
How Can I Pass the DOT Inspection?
Theoretically, passing the DOT truck inspection isn’t too challenging. Drivers just have to keep their vehicle and respective paperwork in proper condition. It’s advisable to carry out a walk-around inspection of your truck before every departure and after every arrival. Most importantly, faults and mechanical issues should be dealt with in time. Take your vehicle to the nearest truck shop for servicing if it is necessary.
Generally, drivers will want to make sure their truck is clean and presentable. They should also check that cargo is safely loaded and secured. Finally, drivers will want to keep all relevant paperwork at hand.
What Results Can I Get From A DOT?
A DOT truck inspection can go three ways:
- No violations: This is the ideal result. It means everything looks mechanically sound, and your truck is ready to move right along.
- Non-Out of Service Violations: This indicates that something in your truck is faulty and needs fixing. Deal with the issue ASAP, and everything should be alright.
- Out of Service Violations: The result that no driver wishes to see. Your truck should not even be on the road. Get it to the nearest repair shop for immediate servicing.
How Much Will a DOT Inspection Cost?
Roadside inspections will be free. However, violations (even non-out-of-service ones) can result in fines of different levels. On top of that, you’ll be expected to pay for the necessary servicing jobs and repairs. The prices of these can vary, with more serious violations incurring heftier price tags.
Getting your truck’s DOT done at a local truck shop will cost a certain fee. This is generally based on the vehicle type, inspection level needed, and the shop’s pricing levels. Expect an in-shop DOT truck inspection to cost from $80 to $200.
Tips for Passing the DOT Inspection:
Your vehicle’s papers will definitely get checked during a DOT Level 1 Inspection. Knowing this, make sure you’ve got the following documents organized and ready to show the inspector:
- Daily log and hours of service
- Drivers License
- Inspection reports (driver and vehicle)
- Medical card
- Hazmat documents
- Alcohol and drugs
Did you know that digitalizing your DOT truck inspection can speed up the process by up to 15%? Maintenance, inspections, tracking HOS, and many other important pieces of paperwork can now be digitalized. Not only will this save time, but reduce your paperwork and help keep your reports safe and organized.
Think Ahead with Preventative Maintenance:
It’s too late to get your truck serviced on the day of its inspection. But a preventative maintenance program will eliminate your fears of having to do so. Being proactive about truck maintenance will reduce the chances of slipping up on the DOT. Some of the typical checklist items that drivers should check before trips include:
- Tire quality and inflation levels
- Exhaust systems
- Securing down cargo
We hope we’ve answered some of your questions about the annual DOT truck inspection. For more information and resources on fleet maintenance, feel free to reach out to our team. We’d love to help.