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What You Need to Know About Annual DOT Vehicle Inspections
Mariah Barr
5 mins read

The end of 2023 is coming up quickly, and if you haven’t conducted your annual DOT vehicle inspections yet, time is running out!

Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and their components must be inspected every 12 months according to FMCSA regulations. Not only does this ensure your CMVs are safe to drive, but it also helps better your chances of passing a DOT roadside inspection.

There’s a lot that goes into the annual inspection process, so let’s cover the basics:

  • What CMV parts need to be inspected (consider this your DOT vehicle inspection checklist)
  • Annual inspection recordkeeping requirements
  • Fines and penalties you may face for failing to meet the recordkeeping requirements

Let’s start with what you need to know – the components of your CMVs that must be looked over.

What needs to be inspected during an annual DOT vehicle inspection?

The following interior and exterior parts of your CMVs must be visually and physically inspected:

  • Brake system – service brakes, linings or pads, drums and rotors, parking brake system, hoses, tubing, low-pressure warning device, tractor protection valve, air compressor, electric brakes, hydraulic brakes, vacuum systems, antilock brake system, automatic brake adjusters
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Lighting devices
  • Steering mechanism
  • Suspension
  • Frame
  • Tires
  • Wheels and rims
  • Rear impact guard
  • Coupling devices – fifth wheels, pintle hitches, drawbar/towbar eye and tongue, saddle mounts
  • Windshield wipers and glazing

Completing this DOT vehicle inspection checklist and looking over these components for signs of wear and tear, or even complete failure can help prevent costly violations and accidents.

Did you know your performance in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC category can impact your CSA score? Find out more in our related article: The BASICS of Vehicle Maintenance Recordkeeping.

What are the annual DOT vehicle inspection recordkeeping requirements?

When a CMV is due for an annual inspection, the qualified inspector performing the inspection needs to prepare a report that includes the following information:

  1. The name of the individual performing the inspection
  2. The company using the vehicle
  3. The date of the inspection
  4. The vehicle being inspected
  5. The vehicle components inspected, the results of the inspection, and any components that do not meet FMCSA standards
  6. A certification of the accuracy and completeness of the inspection

You must keep either the original or a copy of this inspection report for 14 months from the date the inspection report is completed. The inspection report must be kept where the CMV is stored or maintained.

What are the fines for committing inspection recordkeeping violations?

If you fail to keep up with the above recordkeeping requirements, you may be subject to a maximum penalty of $1,000 for each violation per day it is not addressed, up to $10,000.

If you are cited for creating false inspection records, you could face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.

In short, much like your DOT driver qualification filesfailing to keep up with inspection-related recordkeeping is not worth the expensive fines.

Why Annual DOT Vehicle Inspections Matter

You should take pride in the CMVs your drivers operate to keep your business moving. If they’re constantly breaking down or you’re using “band-aid” fixes just to keep costs low, you could be putting your company at risk of serious violations.

Here are the top five vehicle violations and the number of occurrences cited during roadside inspections in FY23:

  1. Inoperable Required Lamp – 352,368
  2. State vehicle registration or license plate violation – 213,585
  3. Operating CMV without proof of periodic inspection – 194,818
  4. Clamp or Roto type brake out-of-adjustment – 126,580
  5. No/discharged/unsecured fire extinguisher – 125,119

All the above vehicle violations can be avoided if employers take their annual inspections seriously and train drivers how to perform thorough pre- and post-trip inspections.

Talk to Foley About Your DOT Compliance

Foley’s compliance experts are ready to help you stay on track with your DOT recordkeeping so you don’t face any of the above citations or fines. Keep your company’s safety, reputation, and bottom line in mind by investing in your compliance today!

Take the first step and request a FREE demo of our DOT compliance software, Dash, now by filling out the form below. We can also help you with your DOT driver files, MVR monitoring, and more.

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