Tool Kit

Vehicle Inspections and Maintenance

Proper vehicle inspections and regular maintenance can reduce the risk of crashes. They help ensure everything is operating properly and safely. Employers have a duty to make sure work vehicles are properly inspected and maintained. Learn more about when and how to inspect your vehicles.


Vehicle inspections

Owners of vehicles used for work are responsible for inspecting them before they’re driven. We recommend doing it daily. Use our forms to understand what needs to be checked, and how to report the findings.

The benefits of vehicle inspections

Inspections help ensure the vehicle is:

  • Properly equipped
  • Properly set up for the driving, road, and weather conditions it will experience
  • Operating safely

Discovering mechanical defects or deficiencies before a trip can help drivers avoid a crash or being stranded at the side of the road. Knowing the vehicle should get them safely to their destination can help ease stress behind the wheel. Inspections help focus the driver on the task ahead.

Inspections and proper maintenance also help reduce the risk for everyone who shares the road. Other drivers expect your vehicles to be road worthy. For example, they expect your brake lights to be working so they can avoid rear-ending you. Cyclists and pedestrians expect your wipers to be working so they can be seen and establish eye contact with you at a crosswalk.

Inspection responsibilities

Health and safety regulations require workplace inspections – and a vehicle used for work in BC is a workplace. It’s the employer’s responsibility that all vehicles owned by the organization be inspected. The inspection needs to be done before a vehicle is used.

Employees who drive their personal vehicles for work are responsible for their own inspections. Employers need to make sure the inspections are done.

If any deficiencies are found that could make the vehicle unsafe or hazardous, a supervisor needs to be notified immediately. The deficiency needs to be fixed before the vehicle is used for work.

Regulations also require vehicle owners to maintain inspection records. We recommend the person doing the inspection be instructed to submit their reports to their supervisor or manager. Set a regular frequency, such as requiring reports weekly or monthly. Owners of personal vehicles used for work need to keep their own records. The employer may request copies.

If the inspection identifies any deficiency that could make the vehicle unsafe or hazardous, the employee needs to make sure their supervisor knows immediately. The condition needs to be remedied before that vehicle is used for work.

When to inspect vehicles

Commercial vehicles have to meet specific vehicle inspections standards. See the Carrier Safety Guide for information.

For all other vehicles, best practice is to do a visual inspection before the start of every shift. An employer, supervisor, or driver can do it. We also recommend inspections at the end of the workday.

Even if an employer doesn’t require the driver to inspect a work vehicle before using it, drivers have a responsibility to keep themselves, their passengers, and other road users safe.

Inspecting a vehicle

An inspection requires a systematic approach. It takes only a few minutes. An employer, supervisor, or driver can do it.

Use our Vehicle inspection Tip Sheet (PDF 190KB) and adapt it as needed. Review our Pre- and Post-trip Vehicle Safety Inspection video:

Conducting vehicle inspections

Not sure what to look for when inspecting your vehicle? Follow these tips:

Item

What to do

Tips

Engine oil

Before starting the engine, check the oil level daily. Top up as necessary.

Consult your owner’s manual to confirm the oil you use is the right viscosity if operating in extreme heat or cold.

Transmission Check automatic transmission fluid level.  
Coolant Check coolant in reservoir is within operating range.  
Brake fluid Check reservoir fluid level is within correct operating range. If you’re not sure, have your mechanic check.
Power steering fluid Check reservoir fluid level is within correct operating range.

If you’re not sure, have your mechanic check.

Battery Confirm battery is securely mounted; ensure battery terminal connections are tight (tug test) and check for signs of corrosion.  
Engine belts and hoses With the engine off and cool, visually inspect belts and hoses. Gently tug them to confirm they are secure. If you see evidence of leaks, kinks, splits, cracks or abrasion, have a technician check it.  
Windshield washer Check there is enough washer fluid.

Use winter washer fluid in winter. Have an extra container with you for longer road trips in dirty conditions.

Tires – tire pressure Each day, check to see if the tires look properly inflated. If you’re not sure they are, check with a tire pressure gauge. Check for signs of tire damage or unusual wear. Find correct tire inflation pressures on the driver side door jamb or in the glove box and listed in your owner’s manual. Don’t forget to check the spare tire.
Tires – tread depth Use a tread depth gauge to keep track of tire tread depth. The Motor Vehicle Act requires that tires be replaced when tread depth is 1.5 mm or less. Winter tires must have at least 3.5 mm of tread depth. But in practical terms, start planning to replace your tires when they are down to 4 mm of tread.
Headlights Confirm high beams, low beams, and fog lights work.  
Tail lights, brake lights Check that tail lights and brake lights work.  
Turn signals, emergency flashers Confirm both front and rear signal lights, and emergency flashers work.  
Windshield Clean the windshield. Check for rock chips. Use a clean cloth and automotive windshield cleaner to clean the INSIDE of your windshield.
Wipers Confirm wiper controls work, and wiper blades clear the windshield. Replace wiper blades when you see streaks or gaps when you use them. Switch to winter wiper blades in October.
Leak check As you walk around your vehicle, look underneath for oil, coolant or other fluids on the ground. If you see evidence, have a closer look.  
Body damage Look for door dings, scrapes and scratches that may have occurred the previous day. Watch for loose hubcaps or body stripping, rock chips. Note and report them immediately.
Instrument panel gauges and warning lights Confirm no warning lights are flashing. If there are, have a mechanic address them immediately. If your vehicle has gauges (e.g., oil pressure, coolant temperature) confirm they are within normal range.
Heater/defroster Check fan and flow direction controls are working well.  
Horn Check that the horn works.  
Seating position Adjust your seat position, steering column (tilt / telescopic) and headrest location for your optimal driving position. Keep the vehicle free of clutter. Ensure items in the cab are secured / stowed.
Rear-view mirrors Confirm mirrors are clean, damage-free, and adjusted for your driving position. Adjust your mirrors for optimal rearward visibility.
Seatbelts Make sure that seatbelts and mechanisms (latches, emergency restraint, recoil) work properly. Most vehicles have adjustable shoulder belts; adjust it so that the shoulder belt rests on the middle of your collar bone rather than on your neck or shoulder.
Parking brake Test parking brake for operation and holding capacity. Whether you have a manual or automatic transmission, best practice is to set the parking brake whenever you park.
Brakes As you back out of the garage and before you enter traffic, gently apply your brakes to confirm they are operating as they should. To periodically check that the ABS is working, find a quiet parking lot with no traffic, get your vehicle up to 60 km/hr, grip the steering wheel and firmly apply your brakes.
Vehicle documents Take your drivers licence with you. Have a copy of the registration on board. Check insurance expiry dates. Renew before expiry.
Licence plate Confirm licence plate remains firmly attached and visible. Ensure licence plate lights work.
Steering Assess the “free play” in your steering system to confirm it remains tight. If you’re not sure, ask your mechanic to check.
Engine noises Listen for any unusual sounds (tics, pings, rattles, knocks).  
Roadside emergency/first aid kit Check to make sure your emergency kit is in the vehicle and has what you need. Check expiry dates and replace items as they expire.

Vehicle maintenance

Vehicles need to be properly maintained to ensure a safe workspace and meet legal obligations. The owner’s manual is a good guide to follow. A qualified technician may be needed to do the work.

Scheduling maintenance

The maintenance schedule recommended in the vehicle’s owner’s manual is based on average use and circumstances. Speak to a mechanic about changing the maintenance schedule if the vehicle:

  • Drives daily in stop-and-go traffic
  • Carries heavy cargo
  • Drives in extreme weather or road conditions (hot, cold, dusty, etc.)
  • Is an older or aging model

Performing maintenance

Many maintenance items need to be completed by a qualified technician with specialized training and tools.

If an organization doesn’t have one on staff, or for owners of personal vehicles used for work, it’s worth investing time to find a reliable technician. A technician who becomes familiar with a vehicle and how it’s used can provide proactive tips and service. That can save time and money and help extend the vehicle’s life.

Sometimes deficiencies are found during maintenance work. They need to be reported to the employer or supervisor immediately if they could make the vehicle unsafe. They need to be repaired before the vehicle can be used.

Maintenance for personal vehicles

When employees use their own vehicle for work, they need to ensure it’s properly maintained. The task is part of employee responsibilities for road safety.

The employer remains responsible for ensuring a safe workplace, meaning they need to verify maintenance is done. As a best practice, employers should ask regularly for maintenance records.


Resources

Tip Sheet

Conducting Vehicle Inspections

Regular inspections help ensure vehicles are mechanically sound, safe, and suitable for work. Use these tips to identify potential problems and fix them before using the vehicle.
Form

Basic Vehicle Inspection and Mileage Log Form

Vehicle inspections and mileage need to be recorded. Customize this document to suit your organization’s procedures, then have drivers fill it out and submit it to you when complete.
Form

Monthly Vehicle Inspection Form

Keeping accurate records is critical for road safety and to fulfill legal responsibilities. Use this Excel spreadsheet for daily pre-trip and weekly inspections.