Guidance

Carry out heavy goods vehicle (HGV) daily walkaround checks

What you need to check inside and outside of the vehicle when you do a lorry or other heavy goods vehicle (HGV) walkaround check.

You’re responsible for making sure your vehicle is safe to drive.

Carry out a walkaround check of the vehicle before your journey to make sure it’s safe. Report any defects in writing to the person in charge of sorting out vehicle defects in your organisation.

The police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officers can stop you to do checks on your vehicles.

You can be stopped from driving until you fix any problems they find, or they can issue you with a fine.

If you’re a transport manager or vehicle operator, read guidance about how to make walkaround checks part of your processes for keeping your vehicles safe to drive.

Watch a video showing what checks to do

This short video shows some of the checks that you should do. Read the full list in this guide for more details.

HGV walkaround checks

Download the diagram

You can also download a diagram to remind you of the main things to check.

HGV walkaround check diagram

Check inside the vehicle

1. Mirrors and glass

Check that the windscreen is not:

  • cracked
  • scratched
  • discoloured

Check that the windscreen and front side windows are not excessively tinted.

Check that all mirrors are in place and not:

  • damaged or missing glass
  • obscured
  • insecure

If a camera system is used instead of a mirror, check that it works and the view is correct.

2. Windscreen wipers and washers

Make sure the windscreen wipers work. Check that they are not:

  • missing
  • damaged or worn

Make sure the windscreen washer is working.

3. Front view

Check that no objects get in the way of your front view.

As a general rule, there should be nothing in the swept area of the windscreen wipers.

Some official stickers and road safety items are allowed, as long as they do not seriously block your view of the road, for example, operator licence disc.

4. Dashboard warning lights and gauges

Check that all of these are working correctly:

  • instruments
  • gauges
  • warning lights - including the engine warning, emissions system, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic braking system (EBS)

5. Steering

Check that the steering wheel:

  • moves properly and that the power-assisted steering works correctly
  • has no excessive play
  • does not jam

Check that there’s no excessive lift or movement in the steering column.

6. Horn

Check that the horn works and is easily accessible from the driver’s seat.

7. Brakes and air build-up

Check that:

  • the air builds up correctly and warning system works
  • there are no air leaks
  • the footwell is clear
  • the service brake operates both the tractor and trailer brakes
  • the parking brake for the tractor works
  • the service brake pedal does not have excessive side play or missing, loose or incomplete anti-slip tread

8. Height marker

Check the correct vehicle height is displayed on the vehicle height marker in the cab.

Remember, the height can change, for example, when the fifth wheel is adjusted, or if the trailer is loaded, unloaded or reloaded.

9. Seatbelts

Check that seatbelts:

  • do not have any cuts, damage or fraying that may stop them from working
  • stay secure when you plug them in
  • retract against you when fitted, and fully retract when you take them off

Check outside the vehicle

10. Lights and indicators

Check that:

  • all lights and indicators work correctly
  • all lenses are fitted, clean and the right colour
  • stop lamps come on when you apply the service brake and go out when you release it
  • marker lights are fitted and work

11. Fuel and oil leaks

Check that the fuel filler cap is fitted correctly.

Turn on the engine and check underneath the vehicle for any fuel or oil leaks.

12. Battery security and conditions

Check that your battery is:

  • secure
  • in good condition
  • not leaking

13. Diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue)

Check that your diesel vehicle has enough AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid and top up if necessary.

14. Excessive engine exhaust smoke

Check that the exhaust does not emit an excessive amount of smoke.

15. Security of body and wings

Check that:

  • all fastening devices work
  • cab doors and trailer doors are secure when closed
  • body panels on tractor or trailer are secure and not likely to fall off
  • landing legs (if fitted) are secure and not likely to fall off while driving
  • sideguards and rear under-run guards are fitted if required, and that they’re not insecure or damaged

16. Spray suppression

If spray suppression flaps are required, check that they are:

  • fitted
  • secure
  • not damaged
  • not clogged with mud or debris

17. Tyres and wheel fixing

Check that:

  • the tyres and wheels are secure
  • the tyres have a tread depth of at least 1mm
  • the tyres are inflated correctly
  • there are no deep cuts in the tyre’s sidewall
  • there is no cord visible anywhere on the tyre
  • all wheel nuts are tight enough - you can check if wheel nut indicators (if fitted) have moved to do this
  • there are no objects or debris trapped between the twin wheels

18. Brake lines and trailer parking brake

Check that:

  • couplings are free from debris and are in the right place
  • there are no leaks
  • there is no damage or wear to the brake lines
  • the parking brake for the trailer works

After the initial brake test, leave the engine running so pressure can build up. This will make it easier to hear any leaks as you carry out the rest of the walkaround check.

19. Electrical connections

Check each connection and make sure that all:

  • visible wiring is insulated
  • visible wiring is not likely to get caught or damaged
  • all electrical trailer couplings are connected securely
  • all electrical switches work correctly

20. Coupling security

Check that your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer and that the:

  • trailer is located correctly in the fifth wheel or coupling
  • secondary locking devices are in the correct position

21. Security of load

Check that the load does not move and is not likely to move.

Make sure you use the right type of load securing system for the load.

If you’re not happy with how the load is secured or how stable it is, ask the person in charge of vehicle safety to:

  • get a competent person to assess it
  • reload or resecure it if necessary

Read detailed guidance about load securing.

22. Number plate

Check that the number plate is not:

  • broken or incomplete
  • incorrect or spaced incorrectly
  • dirty
  • faded
  • covered over by anything

23. Reflectors

Check that the reflectors (including side reflectors) are not:

  • missing
  • broken
  • insecure
  • fitted incorrectly
  • the wrong colour
  • obscured by dirt or other objects

24. Markings and warning plates

Check that the vehicle’s markings (including conspicuity markings) are:

  • the right colour
  • visible
  • securely fastened
  • not obscured by dirt or other objects

If the vehicle is carrying dangerous goods, check that the hazard information panels are:

  • show the correct information for the load
  • visible
  • securely fastened
  • not obscured by dirt or other objects

Other check items

You might need to check other items specific to the vehicle, for example, loading or specialised equipment.

Record and report the result of your check

Record and report all defects that you:

  • find during the daily walkaround check
  • become aware of during your journey

What to record

Record:

  • the vehicle registration (number plate) or identification mark
  • the date
  • details of the defects or symptoms
  • your assessment of the defects (for example, ‘dangerous’)
  • your name
  • who it was reported to

Use a form that includes a list of the items checked each day. Record ‘nil’ defects if you do not find any.

Download a template to use or use the system that your employer provides.

HGV walkaround check defect report form (PDF, 46KB, 1 page)

DVSA can ask for a record of your walkaround check at a roadside check.

If you become aware of defects during your journey

Find a safe place to stop to assess and report any defects you become aware of during your journey.

You must get dangerous defects fixed before you continue your journey.

You can get an unlimited fine and a prison sentence for using an HGV in a dangerous condition.

Published 20 September 2019
Last updated 20 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated the example of a vehicle defect report form for drivers to include a space to record and assessment of the defect.
  2. First published.