A Guide to CMV Inspections: What You Need to Know

This article gives you a brief introduction to CMV inspections, what they entail, and who is responsible for them.

Commercial motor vehicle inspection

Published 7 Jun 2022

What is a CMV Inspection?

A Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) inspection is a safety inspection required for all commercial automobiles. This type of vehicle inspection ensures that commercial vehicles are safe and compliant with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.

CMVs include any vehicle used for business purposes, such as trucks, vans, and buses.

Commercial motor vehicle inspection

What is Inspected on a Vehicle During a CMV Inspection?

FMCSA requires the drivers or vehicle owners to carry out a thorough pre- and post-trip inspection on their vehicles.

A pre-trip inspection includes:

  • Windshield wipers
  • Tires
  • Suspension
  • Secured cargo
  • Fluid levels
  • Mirrors
  • Lights

A post-trip inspection includes:

  • Windshield wipers
  • Mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment
  • Service and parking brakes
  • Steering wheel
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn

Why is it Important?

A CMV Inspection is essential because it provides safety not only to the drivers but also to other public vehicles. A punishment will be enforced for those found with violations during an inspection. It can result in the following:

  • Paying penalty fines
  • Drivers losing their licenses
  • Vehicles being placed out of service

Who Needs to Get a CMV inspection?

All commercial motor vehicle operators must get a CMV inspection. This includes owners, operators, and drivers of commercial vehicles.

Additionally, these vehicles must be inspected regularly to comply with safety regulations. The frequency of inspections varies from state to state, but typically they are required every six months or one year.

How Often Do I Need to Get a CMV Inspection?

It’s important to get a CMV inspection regularly to ensure that your vehicle is up to code. The frequency of your inspections will depend on the state you live in, so be sure to check with your local Department of Transportation for specific regulations.

In most cases, you’ll need to get a CMV inspection at least once a year. However, if you’ve recently made any changes to your truck or trailer, you may need to get an inspection more often. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always best to play it safe and schedule an inspection.

What Type of Inspection is Ordered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

According to Federal Regulations, “every motor carrier shall require its drivers to report, and every driver shall prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day’s work on each vehicle operated, except for intermodal equipment tendered by an intermodal equipment provider.”

CMV inspections include:

  • a review of the driver’s qualifications and compliance with Hours-of-Service regulations;
  • a review of the vehicle’s mechanical fitness; and
  • an examination of the load to ensure that it is safely secured.

What is the Most In-depth Inspection of a CMV?

While there are different levels of CMV inspections, the most in-depth and comprehensive inspection is the Level I Inspection.

This inspection is more thorough and is also the most common among DOT inspections. The inspection will look at the following documents such as:

  • A medical certificate to confirm that the operator has passed their yearly physical exam
  • A logbook record that shows they have served consecutive eight on-duty days
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) of the vehicle operator
  • A medical Card or waiver (if suitable)

The inspector also checks all aspects of the vehicle, including the engine, frame, and brakes. It also includes a thorough examination of the interior and exterior of the vehicle. This inspection is highly recommended for any driver looking to rent or lease a CMV.

The whole process takes about 45-60 minutes to complete. If you’re looking for a more detailed look at your vehicle, be sure to opt for a Level I inspection. It can give you peace of mind that your vehicle is in good condition and up to standards.

Shella Marie Ang

SafetyCulture staff writer

Shella Marie Ang

Shella Marie Ang is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Cultivating her experience in social media marketing, virtual assistance, and SEO has helped her create compelling content for websites and blogs. Her medical background also has given her an edge when it comes to writing medical and health-related content. She loves reading in her free time and being around other creatives.

Shella Marie Ang is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Cultivating her experience in social media marketing, virtual assistance, and SEO has helped her create compelling content for websites and blogs. Her medical background also has given her an edge when it comes to writing medical and health-related content. She loves reading in her free time and being around other creatives.