Driver Tip: The basics of a chassis pre-check

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As an owner operator, the health and safety of your truck is the most important thing in keeping the business stable and running. What’s also essential is the quality of the chassis that you use to haul intermodal containers. Any problems that the chassis may have could affect the container and your truck if something out of the ordinary were to happen, so it’s important to inspect the chassis pre-trip.

This video from the Intermodal Association of America (IANA) goes over everything you need to do in a pre-check, and for now we are going to highlight some of the main points that are essential to look over during an inspection.

The Front of the Chassis

Check the seven-way connector in the front of the chassis to ensure that the lights are able to operate. This includes checking the plug, lid and pins to verify that everything is in place for a connection.

Right next to the connector will be the gladhands, and it’s important to make sure they are sturdy and able to connect the emergency and service lines to the chassis.

For the front locking pin, make sure that the pin wasn’t damaged during loading and the latch is there so that you can actually lock the container in place. Also make sure that the marker lights are there, as they are required on all trailers in the United States.

 

The Side Inspection

Some of the key features on a side chassis inspection include checking the landing gear to see if all of the bolts are present and in place, as well as making sure there aren’t any cracks that could affect the levelness of the container during the loading/unloading process.

While you’re down checking out the landing gear, there’s also time to make sure that the registration plate is present and visible. Here you can also verify that the chassis number is correct and the registration date has not expired. 

It’s important for the tandem to slide correctly in place so that the weight of the freight inside the container is correctly distributed. Furthermore, a warehouse may require that the tandem is shifted, so it’s also a way to stay compliant with the warehouse.

When checking the brakes underneath the chassis, use a go/no go gauge to measure the break lining. It should be at least a quarter inch. And with the suspension, it’s important to note that the spring isn’t broken.

Finally there’s a general vanity look over, where you’re going to want to check the tires and container for any holes or damage that can either cause further damage on the tires or prevent the container from being accepted at the warehouse.

If during any of these processes you find anything damaged or missing, it’s important to get it taken care of at the rail yard, where service is free. Once you leave with the container, the rail will transfer responsibility and anything wrong with the container would be on you. 

 

All it takes is one inspection before the trip starts to save you from having an expensive headache later on during the trip.

Brad Frith