CSA Proof Your Rig

Todd Dills | March 01, 2012

• Basic hand tools

• Small electrical connector kit

• Heat shrink tubing

• Electrical contact cleaner

• Dielectric grease

• Wire and metal snips

• Duct tape and electrical tape




Necessary equipment

• Tire pressure gauge

• Tire tread depth gauge

• Air hose with an air chuck on one end and a gladhand on the other that would connect to the emergency line on the back of the truck. “If you need air,” says ATBS’ Bill McClusky, “you just connect that hose to your red line/gladhand off the back of the truck.”

• Plug kit

• Needle-nose pliers.



Inspect to prevent

The top violations in the chart represent the most common infractions in CSA’s Vehicle Maintenance category. “Most, if not all, are items that should be caught during driver inspections and definitely during maintenance inspections,” says J.J. Keller’s Thomas Bray.

Watch steering components closely Tennessee state trooper Robert Hadden inspects an owner-operator’s steering mechanism, which is something inspectors often look at, notes ATBS’ Bill McClusky. He advises staying on top of “tie-rod ends, kingpin bushings, steering shaft U-joints, the power steering box itself and all the linkage that connects the steering wheel to the steer tires.”

ATBS’ Bill McClusky advises operators to build a good relationship with a reliable repair shop, whether a dealer’s service location or an independent garage. “Take the shop a couple pizzas and throw them some Cokes — they tend to remember that and pay better attention to you,” he says.

An operator should work with his shop to be “proactive rather than reactive” about maintenance, says McClusky. He recommends getting an inspection that’s more in-depth than a simple pre- or post-trip, at every oil change, if not more frequently. “Someone in the truck maintenance field is going to spot things that an owner-operator might not.”







Top Vehicle Maintenance BASIC violations in 2011

All violations

393.9(a) Inoperative required lamps 

393.11 No/defective lighting/reflective devices

396.3(a)(1) Inspection/repair and maintenance of parts and accessories

393.75(c) Tire tread depth less than 2/32-inch

396.5(b) Oil and/or grease leak

393.45(b)(2) Failing to secure brake hose/tubing against mechanical damage

393.47(e) Clamp/roto-chamber-type brake(s) out of adjustment

396.17(c) Operating a CMV without periodic inspection

393.95(a) No/discharged/unsecured fire extinguisher

393.25(f) Stop lamp violations

393.9TS Inoperative turn signal

393.48(a) Inoperative/defective brakes


Out-of-service violations

393.9TS Inoperative turn signal

393.9(a) Inoperative required lamps

393.75(a) Flat tire or fabric exposed

393.45 Brake tubing and hose adequacy

396.3(a)(1) Inspection/repair and maintenance of parts and accessories

393.25(f) Stop lamp violations

393.48(a) Inoperative/defective brakes

393.75(a)(3) Tire — flat and/or audible air leak

393.43 No/improper breakaway or emergency braking

393.75(c) Tire tread depth less than 2⁄32-inch

393.207(a) Axle positioning parts defective/missing

393.100(a) Failure to prevent cargo shifting



Necessary equipment

• Spare hoses and end fittings

• Recommended grease

• Grease gun

• Ruler (in inches)

• A marker or sharp instrument to scribe the pushrod position

• Wrench to rotate and adjust slack and/or replace hoses

• Hand cleaner and rags




While CSA is a nationwide program run by a federal agency, it’s a mistake to consider it “a national safety operating model,” says Drew Anderson of Vigillo Inc., which mines CSA data for fleet clients. “It’s a 50-state operating model, and each state has its own unique issues to focus on. Texas is far and away in order of magnitude the worst for vehicle inspections and violations.” California, too, is a standout, and beats Texas in inspections per lane-mile.

  • Gordon A

    What most drivers do not know is that it is required for you to have a spare light and or bulb for every kind of bulb your truck has from head lights , tail lights to dash bulbs.
    It is not a bad idea to have spare fuses, relays and a turn signal flasher in the bag of “keep on truckin” spare parts. No-one expects you to carry a spare starter or air compressor but the things that puts you out of service or gets you ticket is lights and brakes. Most drivers and OO’s do not carry a spare slack adjuster. It is not a bad idea if your even a little mechanical minded..

    Seldom do drivers check the suspension bolts and the spring hanger bolts. Looking good is not good enough. Put hands on to check them for looseness.
    Some drivers will use a wrench to do this.
    If your truck has had suspension work recently then there is a good possibility you may have a loose bolt. No different than checking the torque on a wheel lug nuts after you have had a tire repaired.
    Remember, Your the back bone of this country.
    Keep on truckin drivers ,

  • http://overdriveonline.com/channel19 Todd Dills

    Thanks for the feedback, Gordon — spare slack is a great suggestion, as are the others. Thanks as always for reading.

  • Gordon A

    I want to pass along a lubrication tip to the OO’s that are as tired as I was of crawling under their truck to lube it.

    I am in the processes of installing on my truck a closed greasing system.

    This is what I am doing to help reduce or eliminate the possibility of moving parts failure and to reduce the chance of my truck not passing a equipment inspection.

    I have installed an aluminum block with a Zirk fitting for each grease fitting for the rear suspension excluding the 5th wheel.
    A like block is used for the front suspension and moving parts. Just mount it where it is easy for you to get to.

    I have installed the aluminum feeder block on the brace ahead of the sliding 5th wheel plate for convenience. I can now stand in one spot and grease the undercarriage easily. No grease globs to earn me a ticker for excess grease and or oil now.
    Clean, neat and convenient. No more sliding under the truck in a nasty urine drenched parking lot.

    Then it is a simple matter of getting the grease gun out and never having to get under the truck to grease it again.
    I am going to do my trailer that way too and it is going to be easier than the tractor.
    This system assures me I will never again have some fitting with a glob of grease making me wonder if the fitting took it or was it a sloppy uncaring tech.

    Far too many times I have had to clean the fittings after a TS grease job. They seem to just not care about neatness anymore.
    No tickets for it either.
    It has cost me less than $75 dollars for the tractor.

    I hope this idea helps someone else keep their truck neatly lubed and in passing condition.

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