When you want to set yourself up for a safe, successful trip, performing a thorough fifth wheel inspection is key. It can be a little daunting but necessary for any semi-trailer driver. We’re here to help walk you through the complete fifth wheel inspection checklist. 

What Is a Fifth Wheel Inspection Checklist?

A fifth wheel inspection is a process of carefully examining your vehicle and its components and systems. This checklist usually takes about 15 minutes to complete and is required by the Federal government. 

Why Are Fifth Wheel Inspections Important?

If you’re a semi-trailer driver, you know that the job comes with a lot of responsibility, which isn’t as easy as it looks. Performing fifth wheel inspections before trips is essential for many reasons, including:

  • Safety – Driving a semi-trailer can be dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailer trucks suffer fatal accidents more than any other occupation. Making sure all your equipment is in proper working order can be the difference between a safe trip and getting into an accident.
  • Maintenance – Performing the checklist allows you to find minor issues before they become serious. This can save you money on maintenance by solving problems before your trucks get on the road.
  • Compliance – Pre-trip inspections keep you in compliance with the Department of Transportation regulations. In the case of an audit, the DOT may review your pre-trip inspection checklist to ensure they have been filled out correctly. 

What Does a Fifth Wheel Inspection Checklist Include?

You must thoroughly check each major system when performing your fifth wheel inspection. This process includes:

Engine Compartment

  • Check for leaks in the engine compartment.
  • Ensure every component is properly mounted and secured, including the water pump, power steering pump, alternator, front suspension system, and front brake system. 
  • Look for leaks in hoses.
  • Make sure all the tires, rims, and axles are in good shape and working correctly.

Fuel Tank And Battery Area

  • Inspect fuel tanks, caps, batteries, and exhaust systems and ensure they’re working properly.
  • Ensure mirrors, door hinges, and door handles are not damaged.
  • Look at the exhaust system, driveshaft, catwalk, frame, cross members, and gaskets for any malfunctions.
  • Check that the suspension system, brake linings, changers, slack adjusters, and pushrods are properly working.

Coupling System

  • Ensure that electrical lines and airlines are good to go.
  • The fifth wheel should be greased appropriately and have no gap between the fifth wheel and the trailer apron.
  • Make sure the skid plate of the fifth wheel and apron of the trailer are working properly.
  • Inspect the kingpin, mounting bolts, and locking pin. 

Trailer

  • Check that landing gear, frames, cross members, mudflaps, and the rear door are ready for travel. 

Lights

  • Inspect turn signals, four-way flashers, brake lights, high beams, low beams, and brake lights.
  • Ensure that reflectors, reflective tape, and the color chamber are in good condition.

Fifth Wheel Inspection Checklist Resources

If you want more resources regarding fifth wheel inspection checklists, we’ve provided some below.

Check out our helpful JOST International instructional videos to make sure your fifth wheel, landing gear, and coupling systems are in proper working order. 

Take a look at this helpful Semi-Trailer Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist. In addition to ensuring your fifth wheel, landing gear, and major systems are in good working order, you should also inspect these elements of your semi-trailer before embarking on a trip. 

fifth wheel inspection checklist sheet

JOST International Is Here for All Your Semi-Trailer Needs

Once your pre-trip inspection is complete, you’re ready to hit the road! If you need any replacement parts for your semi-trailer, look to JOST International. We have a long history of developing efficient, safe, and innovative systems for trucks and trailers, including fifth wheels, landing gear, coupling technologies, kingpins, and more. 

Expert Reviewed On 5/15/24

Rob Marsh is the VP of Truck Product Sales OEM and Fleet at JOST and has worked in the trucking industry for over 17 years. In that time he has become an expert in truck and trailer technologies and products.

Rob Marsh

JOST International