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CDL Test Notes

CDL Written Test Notes: prepared July 2009 by Roger Wright 937 605 1061


I. Introduction

A. Drivers who must have CDL

1. single vehicle with gross vehicle weight (GVW) of over 26,000 lbs.

2. trailer with GVW over 10,000 lbs. IF GVW with power unit is over 26,000 lbs.

3. vehicle with 16 or more person capacity

4. any vehicle used to transport hazard materials (haz mat)

B. How to Get CDL

1. pass knowledge test

2. pass driver test (skills test)

a. pre-trip inspection

b. basic vehicle control (maneuver in parking areas)

c. on-road test

* C. Disqualifications or Ways to Lose CDL

1. blood alcohol more than 0.04% (one year suspension)

2. refuse to blood alcohol test (one year)

3. driving under influence of controlled substance or alcohol (one year)

4. leaving the scene of an accident (one year)

5. felony while operating a commercial vehicle (one year)

6. felony while operating a commercial vehicle with haz mat (three years)

7. lose CDL for 24 hours if operating commercial vehicle with blood alcohol of less than 0.04%

8. lose CDL for 60 days with two serious traffic in-service violations within three years

9. minimum CDL suspension of 120 days for three out-of-service violations in a ten years

10. minimum of 120 day suspension for three in-service violations within three years

11. at least 60 day suspension for first railroad-highway violation

12. at least 120 day suspension for second railroad-highway violation within three years

13. at least one year suspension for third railroad-highway violation within three years

a. not stopping before crossing line at railroad with a hazmat load

b. not stopping at railroad before crossing line if tracks are not clear

c. if not required to stop, failure to slow down before crossing railroad tracks

d. having to stop ON the railroad tracks

e. disobey traffic control device at railroad crossing

f. bellying-out on railroad crossing and getting stuck on tracks

D. Other rules

1. not more than one driver's license ($5,000 fine)

2. notify employer within 30 days of conviction for traffic violation

3. notify you state BMV if convicted of traffic violation in another jurisdiction (except parking)

4. notify employer if license suspended, revoked, canceled or otherwise lose CDL

5. give employer or potential employer list of all driving jobs for past ten years


II. Pre-trip Inspection

A. Overview

1. do the same way every time

2. observe general condition of vehicle as you approach it (wet on ground, broken glass, dents...)

3. review most recent post-trip report; verify by signing-off on repair report

4. lock brakes and/or chock wheels

B. Engine compartment

1. Check engine

a. oil, coolant, power steering fluid, windshield wiper washer fluid

b. air compressor pump, note the drive belt tension or drive gear housing for leaks & damage

c. if you can see them, suspension & steering systems (see below)

d. battery caps, holder, cables and acid if in engine compartment

e. transmission fluid

f. belts for tension and wear, hoses, clamps, connections, wiring to be secure, wear, rubbing...

g. steering column, gear box, etc.

h. close hood

C. Start engine after checking parking brake is on and in neutral

1. Observe oil pressure normal rise within a few seconds

2. Idiot lights go out, buzzers off

3. Listen for problems

4. Air pressure 50 to 90 lbs psi within three minutes

5. Amp/volt meter normal

6. Normal rise in coolant temperature and engine oil

7. Check controls for looseness, sticking, damage, improper setting

a. steering wheel no more 10 degrees slop (2 inches on a 20 inch wheel)

b. clutch

c. accelerator

d. brake foot, parking, trailer, retarder

e. transmission

f. inter axel controls

g. wipers and fluid pump

h. horn

i. turn on:

- head & tail lights

- flashers

- both right and left turn signals

- four way parking

8. Check mirrors, windshield, windows for:

a. cracks

b. dirt

c. illegal stickers

d. sight obstructions

9. Check emergency equipment

a. spare fuses (unless have circuit breakers)

* b. three red reflective triangles

c. fire extinguishers properly charged and rated

d. tools (tire changing and tire chains optional)

e. emergency phone numbers

f. accident reporting kit

10. Turn off engine

a. check low brake air pressure warning system from fully pressurized system

- release parking brake & time air pressure drop

* - loose less than 2 psi per min for single vehicles & less than 3 psi per min for combinations

b. set parking brake

c. take key with you

d. headlights on low beam & 4 way flashers on

D. Walk Around Inspection

1. Front: first check

a. head light low beams

b. flashers flashing

c. push dimmer switch, check high beams

d. turn off head lights and four-way flashers

e. turn-on parking, clearance, side-marker, right turn signal and id lights

f. resume walk-around inspection have rag to clean all lights & reflectors as you go

2. Left front side

a. driver's door latch, window clean

b. wheels & rims not bent, out of alignment, cracked, welded; wrench check rust streaked lugs

c. hub oil seal, no leaks

d. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding) securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- front axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

e. steering (must grab to check for slop) drag link, pitman arm, steering arm, tie rods, etc. and

that all are properly attached at both ends

f. brakes

- drums; no oil or grease on drum, no cracks more than half way across friction area, too thin

- hoses and lines, secure at both ends, no leaks

* - pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

g. tires

- steers no less than 4/32 of an inch of tread; no recapped tires on steers

- all others no less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- no cuts, cracks, cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

h. if cab over check cab locks, latches, etc; check hood latches on conventional tractor

3. Front end: second check

a. windshield clean, not damage, free of sight obstructions

b. wiper blades proper tension, rubber soft, not damage edges, secure blades

c. parking lights on, clearance lights on, id lights on, clean, and amber color

d. reflectors amber and clean

e. right turn signal flashing and facing forward

4. Right front side

a. passenger door latch, hinges, window clean

b. wheels & rims not bent, cracked, or excessive rust; wrench check rust streaked lugs

c. check hub oil seal for leaks

d. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding), securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- front axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

f. brakes

- drum; no oil or grease on drum, no excessive ( 50% of friction area) cracks or wear

- hoses and lines, no leaks

- pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

g. tires

- steers no less than 4/32 of an inch of tread

- all others no less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- no cuts, cracks, cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

h . fuel tank

- secure support brackets, cap secure, etc.

- not damaged

- no leaks

- fuel in tank

i. cat-walk & step securely fastened, not damage, clean

5. Right rear of cab

a. no leaks on engine, transmission, brake lines, air lines, etc.

* b. exhaust system

- brackets secure

- no leaks or cracks (black carbon deposits indicate leak)

- not rubbing anything to make a hole or break support straps

c. frame good condition, lines attached to frame not rubbing or crushed

- cross members same

d. spare tire rack secure, check tire for pressure

6. Cargo

a. blocked, braced, tied down

b. header board adequate for load

c. side boards slots solid, not damaged, secure to attach cargo tie-down straps

7. Right side rear

a. wheels & rims not cracked, bent, cracked; wrench check rust streaked lugs

b. check hub oil seal, no leaks

c. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding), securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- front axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

- torque rod secure at both ends, not bent or cracked

d. brakes

- drum; no oil or grease on drum, no excessive cracks or wear

- hoses and lines secure at both ends, no leaks

* - pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

e. tires

- not less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- no cuts, cracks, cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

8. Rear End

a. lights & reflectors clean, not damaged, proper color (red)

b. license plate visible, securely fastened

c. splash guards present, not damaged, not dragging ground, not rubbing tires

9. Left rear side

a. wheels & rims not bent, cracked; wrench check rusty lugs

b. check hub oil seal for no leaks

c. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding), securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

- if no leaf springs, air bags have no tears, leaks, secure at top & bottom to control arm

- control arm secure at both ends (air bag & frame) U-bolts to axel, no cracks, nuts tight

- bearing plates, bolts tight, not cracked

d. brakes

- drum; no oil or grease on drum, no excessive cracks, excessive wear

- hoses and lines secure at both ends, no leaks

- pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

e. tires

- not less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- cuts, cracks, no cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

10. Left rear cab

a. no leaks on engine, transmission, brake lines, air lines, etc.

b. exhaust system

- brackets secure

- no leaks or cracks

- not rubbing anything

c. frame good condition, lines attached to frame not rubbing, crushed

- cross members same

d. spare tire rack secure, check tire

e. check signal & id lights operational, reflectors in good condition and clean

f. if battery compartment on left side, check as described previously

E. Complete light check

1. turn off signal lights & stop lights

2. apply trailer brakes

3. turn on left blinker

4. get out of cab and check left blinkers

5. get in cab

- turn off lights not needed for driving

- check for required papers (permits, manifest, maps, load numbers, log book, etc.)

- secure items in cab

F. Final checks

A. start engine

* B. test hydraulic brakes by three pumps and hold pressure for five seconds

C. fasten seat belt

D. test parking brake by rolling slightly and applying parking brake

* E. test service brakes by moving 5 mph and firmly apply service brakes

1. note for pull to side or delayed engagement

G. During & After Trip Inspections

* 1. inspect cargo first 50 miles and then every 150 miles or three hours, which ever comes first

2. complete post trip inspection report

a. place a copy in cab for next driver to review


III. Driving

A. backing

* 1. avoid backing if at all possible; plan ahead (backing is always dangerous!!!)

2. start in proper position

3. use a helper if possible

4. use both side mirrors, go slow

5. turn to driver's side if possible, get out and look if necessary

B. double clutch when shifting gears

* 1. consider RPM or MPH to decide when to shift

C. when going down hill...

1. on pre 1996 trucks, use same gear to go down a hill as you did coming up

2. on post 1996 trucks, use one gear lower going down then you used coming up

3. know if your truck has a retarder and which type:

a. exhaust

b. engine c. hydraulic

d. electric

4. softly apply brakes when reach max safe down hill speed

* a. hold brakes softly until 5 MPH below max safe speed, release brakes

b. repeat as necessary when speed returns to maximum safe downhill speed

* 5. evaluate down hill grades by:

a. length

b. steepness

c. road conditions

d. your weight

e. traffic flow

f . safety ramps

D. looking ahead, safe clearance

* 1. look 12 to 15 seconds ahead

* 2. stopping distance = perception distance + reaction distance + braking distance

a. ¾ second + ¾ second + 4 ½ seconds on good road with good brakes at 55 MPH

* b. thus, 55 MPH takes 6 seconds to stop; 7 seconds to stop at 60 MPH

* c. empty truck takes more distance to stop than loaded truck

3. doubling your speed takes four times more distance to stop

* E. Signal your intentions

1. signal early

2. signal continuously

3. cancel signal when maneuver is complete

4. tap brakes lightly when you need to slow down, but not expected to stop immediately

* F. Slippery conditions are likely at:

1. shaded areas

2. bridges

3. melting ice

4. black ice (ice which is clear and can see the road)

5. wetness

6. hydro planning (can occur at speed as low 30 MPH)

7. bleeding tar on hot days

* G. Turning right

1. never bear left before turning right as drivers will think you are turning left (jug handle turn)

2. if you must go left of center, do it after the turn, not before (hook turn)

* H. Hazards=any condition or driver that is a possible danger; have a plan to deal with each hazard

1. blocked vision

2. delivery trucks

3. parked vehicles

4. pedestrians, bikes, SMV

5. distractions (radio, cell phone, map reading, etc)

6. children

7. talkers (drivers talking to passenger, cell phone, etc.)

8. construction workers

9. ice cream trucks

10. disabled vehicles

11. accidents

12. shoppers

13. confused drivers

14. slow drivers

15. turning signals (may be on inadvertently or wrong one is on)

16. aggressive drivers (in a hurry)

17. impaired drivers (drivers look where they plan to go)

18. drivers engaged in conflict

a. arguing with a passenger

b. two or more drivers wanting to different things with their vehicles (intersections, etc)

* I. when tailgated:

1. more space between you and vehicle ahead to reduce the need to stop quickly

2. stay in right lane

3. don't speed up

4. avoid quick changes in speed, lanes, etc.

J. Other

1. don't drive adjacent to other vehicles

a. you or other driver is trapped

b. other driver may forget you are there in an emergency

2. overhead clearance

a. signs stating clearance may be wrong

- new paving

- snow pack

- tilt of vehicle raising one side higher

- weight of cargo or lack thereof may change your height

- tires of different diameter may have changed on your vehicle

3. driver attitudes

a. aggressive driver

-selfish, bold, pushy

b. road rage

-driver wants to do harm

* 4. stab braking (emergency braking)

a. lock brakes (apply completely but do not push as hard as possible)

b. release as soon as wheels lock

c. reapply when wheels start to turn

5. fire extinguishers

a. ABC can be used on all fires

b. BC extinguishers to be used on electrical or burning liquid fires

6. passing

a. assume whoever you are passing does not see you

- if legal, tap horn, flash bright lights at night, etc.

b. signal your intention to change lanes

7. if you have difficulty seeing other vehicles, they have trouble seeing you

a. slow down

b. turn on all lights, not just parking & id lights

8. if you must stop, never stop where vision of your vehicle is impaired

* a. place triangle reflectors within ten minutes

b. in two-way traffic

- place one triangle 10 feet & 100 feet in front of vehicle, 10 feet & 100 feet behind

c. in one-way traffic

* - place one 10 feet, 100 feet and 200 feet behind your vehicle

* 9. match your speed to road conditions

10. curves

a. slow to 5 MPH below recommended max curve speed BEFORE the curve

b. allows you to apply power in the curve to maintain better vehicle control

11. maintain speed with flow traffic if law permits, especially in heavy traffic

12. braking reduces steering capability; skidding eliminates steering capability

13. plan ahead to avoid being distracted

14. avoid distractions

a. well rested to start

b. preset radio stations, stereo disks, phone numbers on cell phone

c. have route planned with maps handy and turned to the page you need

d. don't read or write while driving

e. adjust mirrors before pulling onto road

f. clean mirrors and windows before pulling onto the road

g. do not look directly into other bright lights & do not retaliate

h. don't drive in fog if at all possible

- use low beam lights

- slow down

- turn on four-way flashers

- watch for vehicles parked on side of road

- use road side reflectors to help define road age

- listen for traffic you cannot see

- do not pass other vehicles

- don't stop along road

15. check for ice by reaching to the front of your side mirror to feel for ice forming

16. avoid wet brakes

a. when driving through deep water:

- go slow

- gently apply brakes to keep water and mud from getting on brake drums

- when out of water, heat the brake drums by maintaining slight pressure to generate heat

- then test your brakes

b. wet brakes cause:

- reduced braking ability

- grabbing and lock-up

- uneven braking

17. railroad crossings

a. passive (no traffic control devices)

b. active (does have traffic control devices)

- always slow down before any rr crossing

- if you stop, stop before crossing the stop line

c. avoid stopping on a crossing at all costs (don't belly-out)

- it takes 15 seconds to cross a single track, 16 seconds to cross a double track

d. if you stop, turn on four-way flashers and use pull-out lane if possible

e. do not shift gears while crossing tracks

18. leaving the road

a. do not do it except to avoid collision

b. keep one set of wheels on road if possible

c. do not apply brakes until speed is down to 20 MPH

* d. if you must re-enter the road before stopping, firmly turn wheel on to road edge

19. if you lose brakes

a. get off accelerator

b. down shift

c. pump brakes

d. use parking brake

e. find an escape route (escape ramp if possible, flat field, etc)

20. detect tire failure by:

a. sound

b. vibration

c. feel on steering wheel

21. know if you have ABS by:

a. reading operator's manual

- required on air brake tractors built after 1 Mar 1997

- required on airbrake trailers built after 1 Mar 1998)

- required on all other commercial vehicles built after 1 March 1999

b. ABS yellow light on dash board

c. look for ABS wiring and sensors on hubs

* 22. if involved in an accident:

a. protect the area (get off road, flashers, triangles)

b. notify authorities

c. care for the injured

d. after accident fires are causes by:

- spilled fuel

- tires

- electrical shorts

- flammable carg

* 23. if you have a fire, do NOT pull into a fuel station

a. shut-off engine to stop flow of fuel

b. stay as far away from fire as possible when using extinguisher

c. aim for base of fire

d. do not open hood if you have an engine fire

e. fire types and extinguishers:

- A for wood, paper; use ABC

- B for grease, oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, other liquids; use BC

- C for electrical fires; use BC

- D for combustible metals; use D


IV. Cargo

* A. driver is responsible for safe stowage of cargo regardless of who loaded it

B. inspect cargo on pre-trip inspection, first 50 miles & every 3 hours or 150 miles, whichever first

C. do not be overweight on any axel

D. load balanced

E. do not exceed tire load

F. do not exceed suspension system load

G. do not be top-heavy

H. one tie down for each ten feet of cargo length

1. minimum of two tie downs on any sized cargo

I. Cover cargo

1. to protect people from spilled cargo (not all states require)

2. to protect cargo from weather

J. Special consideration cargoes

1. hanging meat

2. livestock

* 3. dry bulk loads can have a high center of gravity and can shift

4. oversized loads

K. Make sure header board is appropriate for cargo to protect driver


V. Air Brakes

* A. Three systems

1. service

2. parking

3. emergency

B. Components

1. air compressor

2. air compressor governor

a. controls air pressure in air pressure tanks

3. compressed air tanks

4. air tank drains

a. remove water from air tanks daily

* 5. alcohol evaporator (optional)

a. puts alcohol in system to prevent ice formation

6. safety pressure valve on first air tank

a. usually set to open at 150 psi

7. air compressor cut-in and cut-out psi regulator (check during pre-trip inspection)

8. brake pedal

9. foundation brakes (primary brakes)

a. brake drum (cracks no longer than one-half the width of the friction area)

b. brake shoe

c. brake lining (not loose or oily and not too thin

d. three types

* - S-cam (rotates to push brake shoe to drum)

- wedge (wedge pushes brake shoes against drum)

- disc brakes use a power screw to engage brake shoes

10. air supply pressure gauge (measures air pressure in tanks)

* 11. application air pressure gauge (measures air pressure exerted against brake shoes)

12. low air pressure warning buzzer or wig-wag when below 60 psi; large buses at 80 to 85 psi)

* 13. stop switch light

a. illuminates brake lights in rear of vehicle when you push brake pedal

14. front brake limit valve on vehicles made before 1975

a. manually set for "normal" or "slippery" conditions

- slippery setting reduces air pressure to steer axel brakes

15. spring brakes

* a. all vehicles with spring brakes engage brakes when loose air pressure

b. takes at least 20 to 30 psi to release spring pressure brakes

16. parking brake controls

a. diamond shaped yellow push-pull button on cab dash to right of steering wheel

b. do not push brake pedal when parking brake engaged, combined pressure could damage

17. modulating control valve (optional)

a. allows driver to set "feel" of spring brakes being applied

18. dual parking control valve(optional, usually on buses)

a. separate air tank for emergency use to release springs when need to move bus off road)

19. ABS

a. on air brake tractors built after 1 Mar 1997

b. on airbrake trailers built after 1 Mar 1998)

c. on all other commercial vehicles built after 1 March 1999

d. ABS yellow light on dash board

* e. ABS does NOT change how you brake, but does prevent skidding even if you stomp pedal

C. Dual System

* 1. two brake systems using the same brakes

2. primary system controls front brakes and maybe one rear axel brake

3. secondary system controls rear brakes

4. air pressure should build from 85 to 100 psi within 45 seconds


VI. Combination Vehicles

A. Heavier, longer rigs require more driving skill

1. higher center of gravity

2. fully loaded rig 10 times more likely to roll-over in an accident than an empty rig

a. keep cargo as close to ground as possible

* b. drive more slowly around turns

c. center cargo on trailer and spread it out

* 3. steer gently

a. avoid quick lane changes

- to avoid "crack-the-whip" effect

- "rearward amplification" causes crack-the-whip effect

- rearward amplification of 2.0 means rear trailer is twice as likely to roll than the tractor

- a triple trailer rig has a rearward amplification of 3.5

B. Trailer skids

1. best way to recognize trailer skid is to see it in the mirrors

a. anytime you apply the brakes hard, look at your trailer wheels

* 2. to stop trailer skid:

a. release brakes to get traction back

* b. do not use trailer hand brake

C. Turning

1. turn wide in button hook pattern, not jug handle pattern

a. the longer the rig, the more the back wheels will "off track" the steer wheels

b. do not run up on the curb, but keep rear trailer wheels close to the curb

* D. Backing Is Always Dangerous

1. turn the top of the steering wheel in the opposite direction you want the trailer to go initially

2. back straight whenever possible

3. back turning left instead of turning right whenever possible so you can see the rear of the trailer

4. look at your path before you begin backing; get out and walk around behind (sides, overhead)

5. use both mirrors 6. back slowly

7. correct drift (off-course) immediately

a. pull forward if necessary

E. Combination Vehicle Air Brakes

* 1. Trailer Hand Valve (AKA trolley valve or Johnson bar)

a. do not use when driving cause could cause trailer to skid & jack-knife

b. never use hand valve when parking because air may leak out and release brakes

* - always use parking brakes if have spring brakes (spring brakes = air brakes)

* - if not spring brakes, chock wheels

2. Tractor Protection Valve

a. keeps air in the tractor brake system should the trailer break away

- controlled by the trailer supply control valve in the cab

- allows you to open & close tractor protection valve

b. will close automatically if air pressure is low (20 to 45 psi).

- stops air from leaving tractor

- lets air out of trailer brake system to allow spring brakes to engage

3. Trailer Air Supply Control

a. on newer tractors, eight sided red knob used to control the tractor protection valve

b. pops out when air pressure is low (20 to 45 psi) closing tractor protection valve

c. on older vehicles, may be a lever

- "normal" position is used for pulling a trailer

- "emergency" position is used to engage trailer emergency brakes

4. Trailer Air Lines

a. there are two air lines to the trailer

- service line blue color

- connected to relay valves which allow trailer brakes to be applied more quickly

- emergency line (aka supply line) red color

- supplies air to trailer air tanks

- controls the trailer emergency brakes

5. Hose Couplers (aka "glad hands")

a. clean before coupling

b. press 2 seals together and twist 90 degrees to lock

- make sure hook red to red, blue to blue

c. always test trailer brakes after hitching to make sure air lines are properly connected

d. very important to keep couplers clean

- use dummy connectors when not in use or hook red and blue couplers, if possible

6. Trailer Air Tanks

a. filled by emergency air line (red)

b. relay valves send air to brakes from trailer air tanks

-pressure in the service line tells relay valves how much air to send to brakes

c. drain water from tanks every day

7. Shut-off Valves (aka cut-out cocks)

a. located in the service & emergency lines at back of trailer used to provide air pressure to

other trailers

b. make sure last trailer has shut-off valves closed and not leaking

8. Trailers older than 1975 do not have spring brakes

a. these trailers have no parking brakes and wheels must be chocked

9. Antilock Brake Systems (ABS)

a. required on all trailers & dollies built after 1 March 1998

b. yellow ABS malfunction lamps on left side in front or rear corner

c. braking with ABS helps avoid wheel lock-up and nothing more

d. brake the same with or without ABS

F. Coupling Trailers

1. inspect fifth wheel for damage, missing parts, grease and

a. tilted toward trailer

b. jaws open for pin

* c. safety unlocking handle in automatic lock position

d. make sure a sliding fifth wheel is properly locked (some fifth wheels can be moved on frame)

e. make sure trailer king pin is not bent or broken

f. make sure area around trailer is clear & wheels are chocked or spring brakes engaged

g. check cargo is secure

h. put tractor directly in front of trailer

i. back tractor under the trailer until fifth wheel touches trailer, don't hit the trailer frame

j. secure tractor

k. check trailer height (should be raised slightly by fifth wheel) and adjust trailer height

l. align kingpin in jaws

m. connect air lines

n. push air supply knob or move tractor protection valve from emergency to normal position

o. after full pressure in system, shut off engine so you can hear if trailer has air leak

- apply & release brake & listen for brakes being applied & released

- check your air pressure gauges

q. if you can't hear air leaks & brakes are normal, start engine

r. buck tractor under trailer to engage king-pin

s. raise trailer landing gear slightly

t. pull forward slightly with trailer brakes still locked to check king pin locked

s. shut off engine, take key with you to inspect coupling

- make sure no space (gap) between the two skid plates

- make sure claws are locked around kingpin

- locking lever is in locked position

- safety latch is over the locking lever locks the lever in locked position

t. connect electrical wiring and fasten safety catch

u. check electrical & air lines for damage & leaks & clear of moving parts & exhaust

* v. raise landing gear completely & lock handle in home position

- make sure frame of trailer & landing gear is not going to hit tires or frame when turning

w. remove wheel chocks

G. Uncoupling trailers

1. make sure parking space can support weight of landing gear

2. tractor aligned straight with trailer

3. shut off air to trailer to lock trailer brakes

* 4. ease pressure on kingpin by backing slightly to help release kingpin latch

5. engage parking brake while backing pressure is on kingpin to hold it in place

6. chock trailer wheels is trailer does not have spring brakes

7. lower landing gear

8. leave some weight on fifth wheel

9. disconnect air & electrical lines; use dummy connecters or hook blue & red to keep clean

10. secure lines to avoid damage on trailer & tractor

11. unlock fifth wheel latch

12. pull tractor until fifth wheel is clear of trailer, but stop with tractor frame still under trailer

13. inspect landing gear is fully supporting trailer, not sinking into ground

14. pull clear

H. Pretrip inspect trailer as previously discussed plus:

1. fifth wheel secured to tractor frame

2. no missing or damaged parts

3. enough grease

* 4. no space (gap) between fifth wheel skid plate and trailer skid plate (properly called an "apron")

5. locking jaws on kingpin shank, not on head of kingpin

6. locking arm properly stowed & latched

7. glide plate securely fastened to trailer frame

8. kingpin not damaged

9. electrical cord firmly plugged, not damaged

10. air lines properly hooked and secured, enough slack for turns, no leaks

11. trailer will not hit tractor frame or cab when turning

12. landing gear fully raised and locked

13. crank handle properly secured

14. check each trailer on multiple trailers as stated above

15. build air pressure in trailer brake systems

* 16. go to rear of trailer(s) & open emergency and service brake lines to make sure have pressure

17. recharge air system, shut engine off

a. step on brake pedal several times to reduce pressure in tanks until air supply valve pops

18. restart engine and test emergency brake by letting vehicle roll freely

a. stop & pull out trailer air supply control

b. pull gently on trailer to make sure brakes are locked

19. check for normal air pressure, release parking brake, move forward, apply trailer hand brake



* means that point was a question on the test. I have marked nearly 50 points; there are about 95 questions on the three tests.


There is a test question which asks some like, "What happens if you lose air pressure on your emergency braking system while driving?" The answer is, "Nothing until you stop" or something like that... Make sure you select the answer that has the word "nothing" in it.


The written test for a Class A license with no endorsements (hazmat, passenger bus, tanker) has three parts. The first part is 50 questions about driving. You have to get 40 correct. As you miss a question, it will tell you missed it. Keep track of the number you missed. You can by-pass a question; by-pass all questions you are not sure of the answer and answer them at the end.


The air brakes written test has 25 questions (I think). You have to get 20 correct. Keep track of the number you missed. You can by-pass a question; by-pass all questions you are not sure of the answer and answer them at the end.


The combination vehicles written test has 20 questions (I think), you have to get 16 correct. Keep track of the number you missed. You can by-pass a question; by-pass all questions you are not sure of the answer and answer them at the end.

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