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CDL Pre Trip Inspection Engine Compartment

Last updated on February 10, 2023

The CDL pre-trip inspection engine compartment part of the CDL skills test is a required component of the exam. When performing the CDL pre-trip inspection, the engine should be turned off. The driver must check the engine compartment for loose hoses, oil, and coolant levels. Also, check the level of power steering fluid reservoir sight glass. The power steering fluid level should be at or above the refill mark. A faulty engine could spell disaster if not repaired quickly.

The following is a list of items that the driver must check during the CDL pre trip inspection engine compartment while the engine is off.

CDL Pre Trip Inspection Engine Compartment (ENGINE OFF)


  • Look for puddles on the ground.
  • Look for dripping fluids on the underside of the engine and transmission.
  • Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.

Oil Level

  • Indicate where the dipstick is located.
  • Make sure the oil level is within safe operating range. The level must be above the refill mark.

Coolant Level

  • Inspect the reservoir sight glass, or If the engine is not hot, remove the radiator cap and check for visible coolant level.

Power Steering Fluid

  • Indicate where the power steering fluid dipstick is located.
  • Check for adequate power steering fluid level. The level must be above the refill mark.

Engine Compartment Belts

Check the following belts for snugness (up to 3/4 inch play at center of belt), cracks, or frays:

  • Power steering belt.
  • Water pump belt.
  • Alternator belt.
  • Air compressor belt.

Note: If any of the components listed above are not belt driven, you must:

  • Make sure the component(s) are operating properly, are not damaged or leaking, and are mounted securely.

Source: 49CFR383.113

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