Drivers play an important part in making sure that trucks and buses using Ontario highways are in good operating condition. The most effec­tive method for drivers to determine that their vehicle is in safe operating condition is to do a daily vehicle inspection (also known as a circle check or a pre-trip inspection) before starting the day’s trip.

Not only is it good safety practice, the daily inspection is a requirement of the Highway Traffic Act. Drivers must, by law, inspect their vehicles and be capable of determining if they are in a safe operating condition. A driver is required to complete a vehicle inspection every 24-hour period and monitor the vehicle’s condition throughout the trip.

A driver is not permitted to drive a truck unless they or another person, within the previous 24 hours, have conducted a Schedule 1 inspection of the vehicle and completed an inspection report.

The inspection is conducted in accordance with an inspection schedule. The schedule provides a list of vehicle systems and compo­nents that a driver is required to inspect, and provides a list of defects to guide and assist the driver.

The inspection schedule divides defects into two categories: major and minor. When a minor defect is identified, the driver must record the defect on the inspection report and report the defect to the operator. Drivers are not permitted to drive a vehicle with a major defect.

Drivers must carry both the current inspection report and the inspection schedule. Electronic reports and schedules are permitted.

The circle check or daily inspection in this book shows the absolute minimum inspection that must be performed as part of the driver-testing procedure. For the full inspection schedules outlining all major and minor defects, which all commercial vehicle drivers are required to complete daily, refer to the Ontario Regulation 199/07 “Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspections” in the Highway Traffic Act. For additional information on how to perform a daily inspection in accordance with Regulation 199/07, see Module 8 of the Trucks and Buses, Commercial Vehicle Operators’ Safety Manual.

Upon identifying a safety defect, found either during the daily inspection, or during the trip itself, you must report the condition of the defect to the operator as soon as possible. Major defects must be repaired before you operate the vehicle again.

In cases where serious infractions are discovered, the vehicle is taken out of service. For less serious infractions, such as broken clearance lights, drivers should report the condition to the operator so that repairs can be made in a timely manner.

The most common reason for taking a commercial vehicle out of service is for out-of-adjustment air brakes. Other reasons include insecure loads, defective lights or tires, and broken springs. Therefore, it is very important that drivers also complete a proper air brake pre-trip inspection as described in The Official MTO Air Brake Handbook before starting the day’s trip. In addition to being unsafe, out-of-adjustment air brakes may result in a vehicle being detained and the operator’s CVOR certificate may be cancelled or suspended.

Note: You cannot adjust your own air brakes unless you have either completed an approved air brake adjustment course or you are a certified mechanic.

Daily inspection

Details of the inspection can change according to the type of vehicle, but generally the principle of making a complete inspection should be followed.

As part of the daily inspection, you must inspect all items according to the applicable schedule in Ontario Regulation 199/07. The daily inspection must include the following items:

  • Air brake system (if equipped)
  • Cab
  • Cargo securement (if present)
  • Coupling devices (if equipped)
  • Dangerous goods (for qualified driver only).
  • Driver controls
  • Driver seat
  • Electric brake system
  • Emergency equipment and safety devices
  • Exhaust system
  • Frame and cargo body
  • Fuel system
  • Glass and mirrors
  • Heater / Defroster
  • Horn
  • Hydraulic brake system
  • Lamp and reflectors
  • Steering
  • Suspension system
  • Tires
  • Wheels, hub, and fasteners
  • Windshield wiper / washer

For examination process, refer to the Road Test section.

Uncoupling and coupling of combinations (class A only)

Knowing how to couple and uncouple correctly is basic to safe operation of combination vehicles; incorrect uncoupling and coupling can be very dangerous. There are differences between different trucks and trailers, so make sure you learn the details of coupling and uncoupling the truck(s) and trailer(s) you will operate.

Prior to uncoupling/coupling procedure you must always remember:

  • Roll down windows and turn off any audio systems.
  • Sound your horn before backing (electric horn only if during the road test).
  • Confirm the location is suitable and safe for uncoupling and coupling the truck and trailer.


  1. Secure truck/tractor and trailer
    • Ensure both truck/tractor and trailer parking brakes are applied.
    • Place transmission in park/neutral.
    • Ensure trailer wheels are chocked properly.
  2. Lower landing gear.
    • Check to see if the ground is level and secure.
    • Lower the landing gear until it is:
      • Just above the ground or,
      • Makes contact with the ground, but does not raise the trailer from the fifth wheel and ensure there is no gap between trailer and fifth wheel.
    • Stow the landing-gear handle (fifth wheel) in low gear.
  3. Disconnect and stow air and electrical lines, safety chains or cables.
    • Disconnect and secure air and electrical lines (if equipped).
    • Disconnect and secure safety chains or cables (if equipped).
  4. Unlock fifth wheel / Unlatch Coupling Device
    • Unlock fifth wheel or coupling device
    Non-fifth wheel:
    • Raise the trailer until the trailer coupling device clears the truck coupling device
    • Confirm the trailer is stable and secure
    • Stow the landing gear handle (non-fifth wheel)

    Note: Steps 3 and 4 may be completed in either order. For non-fifth wheel tractor trailer vehicles, pull the truck clear of the trailer by releasing the truck parking brake and pull ahead slowly until the two units are separated.

  5. Disengage fifth wheel (fifth wheel tractor trailer only).
    • Pull the tractor forward far enough to disengage the fifth wheel.
    • Ensure the fifth wheel is not in contact with the trailer, and the tractor frame is still under the trailer.
    • Apply tractor parking brakes and place transmission in neutral.
  6. Confirm trailer is stable (fifth wheel tractor trailer only).
    • Exit the vehicle to confirm trailer is stable and secure.
  7. Pull tractor clear of trailer (fifth wheel tractor trailer only).
    • Release tractor parking brakes and pull ahead slowly until the two units are separated.


  1. Inspect fifth wheel, coupling device, air/electrical lines, chain hook points and connections

    Fifth wheel:
    • Inspect fifth wheel, air/electrical lines and connections.
    Non-fifth wheel:
    • Inspect truck coupling device, truck air/electrical connections and chain connection points as applicable.
  2. Position truck/tractor and trailer units. Check trailer alignment and height.
    • Before reversing, exit vehicle (if required), check vehicle path and observe environment around the vehicle, activate four-way flashers and sound horn. (If vehicle is equipped with an automatic audible backing device, sounding horn is not required).
    • Reverse the truck/tractor slowly at a walking pace.
    Fifth wheel:
    • Reverse until the fifth wheel is just ahead of trailer, touching the trailer or slightly under, but not against the kingpin.
    Non-fifth wheel:
    • Reverse until the truck coupling device is one foot ahead of trailer connection point (Touching the trailer is acceptable however moving the wheel chocks is not acceptable).
    • Place transmission in park/neutral and apply truck/tractor parking brakes.
    Fifth wheel:
    • Inspect trailer upper coupler plate and king pin or trailer connection points.
    • Inspect trailer air and electrical lines and connections.
    • Confirm the kingpin is aligned with the fifth wheel lower coupler.
    Non-fifth wheel:
    • Confirm the truck coupling device and trailer connection point is aligned.
    • Confirm the trailer height is correct.
    • Adjust truck/tractor position, alignment or trailer height if necessary.

    Note:The trailer should be low enough that it is raised slightly by the tractor when the tractor is backed under it. Raise or lower the trailer as needed. (If the trailer is too low, the tractor may strike and damage the trailer nose; if the trailer is too high, it may not couple correctly.)

  3. Engage fifth wheel and test or engage truck coupling device and trailer connection point.
    Fifth wheel:
    • Reverse the tractor, properly engaging the fifth wheel.
    • Perform tug test by stretching the tractor and trailer to confirm the trailer is locked onto the tractor.
    • Apply tractor parking brakes and place transmission in neutral.
    Non-fifth wheel:
    • Reverse the truck until coupling device is properly in-line with the trailer connection point.
    • Place transmission in park/neutral and apply truck parking brake.
    • Adjust landing gear or trailer position/height as necessary to complete coupling.
    • Connect the safety chains or cables crossed.
  4. Confirm fifth-wheel lock or coupling device locked.

    Exit tractor and visually confirm:

    Fifth wheel:
    • There is no space above fifth wheel. (If any space appears between the upper plate of the trailer and fifth wheel, this indicates that the coupling is not secure.)
    • The release lever is in the locked position.
    • The fifth-wheel jaws or locking lever/latch has closed around the kingpin (applicant must get under trailer).
    Non-fifth wheel:
    • Ensure coupling device is locked, secondary locks are secured, and connection points, chains and hooks are properly connected.
  5. Connect air and electrical lines.
    • Properly connect air and electrical line(s) (if equipped)
    • Connect breakaway device if equipped

    Note: Industry standard colours are:
    blue- service
    red- supply or emergency

  6. Raise the trailer landing gear.
    • Raised the trailer landing gear fully
    • Stow the handle into its retainer
  7. Supply air to trailer.
    • Supply air to the trailer with the trailer supply valve and establish normal air pressure.
    • Shut off the engine and from the cab:
      • Listen for leakage from the supply connection.
      • Apply service brakes and listen for leakage from service connection.
  8. Test brake operation.
    • Drive forward slowly and test brake operation as soon as possible.

To test hook-up

Place the transmission in reverse and then partially release the clutch to move the power unit backward in a short, sharp motion. This is known as “hitting the pin.”

Depress the clutch and place the transmission in the lowest forward gear. If the vehicle is equipped with a trailer hand control, pull it down to set trailer brakes to keep the unit from rolling. If there is no hand control, set the trailer parking brake.

Try to pull forward against the pin.

Check coupling (visual inspection)

  • Leave the cab and look under the front of the trailer to be sure that its upper plate is resting firmly on the fifth wheel. If any space appears, the coupling is not secure.
  • Be sure the fifth-wheel release lever is in locked position and the secondary lock, if there is one, is engaged.
  • From behind the tractor and under the trailer, see that the jaws are completely closed.

Raise the landing gear after checking the hook-up and before moving the unit. Be sure the gear is fully raised. If you use a two-speed crank gear, place it in low range, and stow the crank securely.