Woman driving a semi-truck during the day

How Often Must Semi-Trucks Be Serviced and Maintained?

In order to keep the roads safe for everyone who uses them, it is critical that commercial trucks are adequately serviced and maintained.

The United States federal government has set forth specific and strict requirements regarding the rigor and frequency of semi-truck inspection and maintenance records.

Read on to learn more about the requirements.

Title 49 § 369

Title 49 § 369 is the federal regulation code concerning the inspection, repair, and maintenance of commercial vehicles.

Inspections and Maintenance

According to the law, not only do the motor carriers themselves have to be inspected and maintained every 30 days, the parts and accessories must also “be in safe and proper operating condition at all times” (§396.3).

In addition, all of the following must be inspected no fewer than every 90 days:

  • Pushout windows,
  • Emergency doors, and
  • Emergency door marking lights (in buses).

Record Requirements

Commercial trucking companies must maintain service records for all of their vehicles and all intermodal equipment companies must maintain service records for all of their pieces of equipment (including trailers) for 30 consecutive days.

The required records include:

  1. The vehicle’s identification number, including (if applicable):
    1. Make,
    2. Serial number,
    3. Year,
    4. Tire size, and
    5. If the vehicle is not owned by the motor carrier, the record must note the name of the person who furnishes the vehicle.
  2. A way to record the characteristics and deadlines of the assorted inspection and maintenance actions to be conducted.
  3. Notes that indicate the date and nature of the following:
    1. Inspections,
    2. Repairs, and
    3. Maintenance.
  4. Notes that indicate the tests conducted on the following:
    1. Pushout windows,
    2. Emergency doors, and
    3. Emergency door marking lights (on buses).

Record Retention

The aforementioned records must be retained either where the truck is stored or serviced for at least one year while the vehicle is in the possession of the motor carrier. If the motor carrier releases control of the vehicle, the inspection, repair, and maintenance records must be retained for at least six months.

Other Required Maintenance

All commercial vehicles must be properly lubricated and free of oil and grease leaks at all times (§396.5).

Important Implications

In addition to the specific inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements listed in this section, the law also states that “A motor vehicle shall not be operated in such a condition as to likely cause an accident or a breakdown of the vehicle.”

Similarly, “Any motor vehicle discovered to be in an unsafe condition while being operated on the highway may be continued in operation only to the nearest place where repairs can safely be effected. Such operation shall be conducted only if it is less hazardous to the public than to permit the vehicle to remain on the highway.”

Said simply, a commercial truck mustn’t operate in such a way that puts other road users at risk. If a commercial vehicle ends up in an unsafe condition while operating, the driver may only continue if doing so puts fewer people at risk than leaving the vehicle on the side of the road.

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