Which maintenance checks should be carried out on heavy goods vehicles?

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If you drive, keep or manage a heavy goods vehicle, you’ll know that it’s essential to keep it in a safe, legal condition. While thorough inspections should be carried out every six weeks, daily walk-arounds and safety checks help to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.

With over 1.39 billion tonnes of goods lifted across the UK from 2020-21 alone, it’s crucial for the industry to be as safe as possible. In the following guide, we’ll outline some of the most rudimentary checks along with a standard maintenance routine for any HGV driver.

  1. Internal checks

Whether you drive articulated lorries over long distances or you’re responsible for getting students to school on time on the bus, it’s important to leave enough time to perform daily internal checks on your vehicle. Basic checks should ensure that:

  • The windscreen must not be chipped, cracked or discoloured
  • Mirrors should not be obscured or insecure
  • No objects should impair vision
  • No warning lights should show, including ABS
  • The steering wheel moves freely
  1. External checks

Similarly, it’s crucial to make sure that the external components of your vehicle are in a safe, operational condition. Even if you’ve obtained comprehensive transport insurance, any potential claims might be unsuccessful if existing faults or damage to your vehicle have been ignored.

Take a walk around your vehicle at the start of every shift to make sure that:

  • Lights and indicators work properly
  • Fuel and oil are topped up, without leaks
  • Your battery is secure and in good condition
  • Your tyres meet legal requirements for HGVs, including tread depth
  • The load is secure/does not move, etc.
  1. Maintenance inspections

Safety inspections are an imperative part of a good maintenance routine for any HGV. These should be pre-planned and must include the same items covered by a statutory annual test. The safety inspection record must include:

  • The name of the vehicle owner/operator
  • The date of inspection
  • Vehicle identity, including registration number
  • Vehicle make and model
  • Mileage reading
  • A list of all manual parts to be inspected
  • Information on any defects, plus repair work undertaken
  • The inspector’s name

Lastly, you’ll need to obtain a signed declaration that any defects have been correctly repaired, restoring the vehicle to a safe and roadworthy condition.

Preventative maintenance checks will look to identify the condition of the vehicle and repair any small defects before they escalate. This covers the steering, suspensions, brakes, tyres and emissions, improving the chances that the vehicle should pass its annual MOT.

  1. Keeping records up to date

You must report any defects or signs of these that could impact safety, including any noticeable signs while you’re driving. If any defects are found, the vehicle should not be used until the fault has been repaired. A written report should always be provided by the driver and anyone else involved.

Over 89% of all GB goods transported by land are moved directly on the roads but each individual driver plays an important role in keeping the industry running safely.