Annual DOT Inspections

Annual DOT Inspections

Did you know that every CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) needs to have an annual DOT inspection every single year?

Any vehicle that is used as a CMV.  FMCSA identifies a CMV as any vehicle that is used for interstate commerce and has a GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating)

Yes, this includes all of your trailers too!

Not only that, but you also have to keep the inspections on file for 14 months. We recommend that you keep them for 18 months just to be safe

What is an annual inspection and why are they so important and who can do one?

Annual DOT Inspections


Let’s start with what an annual inspection is.  Really it’s a thorough inspection on the vehicle.  The inspector looks for minor defects that drivers might miss.  Things like brake adjustments, cracks in places that are hidden from everyday inspections, you get the point.

Why are Annual DOT inspections So Important?

For a couple of reasons.  One reason is that it’s required by federal regulations.  Another reason is so that you know, as the owner of the vehicle, if there are items that need to be repaired, or will need to be repaired in the near future.

One of the last reasons we are going to talk about today is because it WILL save you fines, violations, & time.  

The reason it will save you from fines is that if all of your CMV’s don’t have annual DOT inspections you will get fines at roadside inspections as well as when you get audits. 

Because an annual DOT inspection is required by FMCSA then you will get a violation at a roadside inspection.  Too many violations and it will trigger an audit.

Time is saved in SO many ways.  One way is at the roadside inspection. An annual DOT inspection takes about 30 seconds to see if the CMV has one, and if they don’t have it, then it will trigger a longer inspection.  

Vehicle downtime

or time the vehicle spends in the shop will go down when you conduct annual DOT inspections.  When the inspector finds the minor issues, and you get them fixed it can save you $$$$$$ compared to having the vehicle breakdown on the side of the road. 

Let’s chat a little about what documents we need and where we need to keep them.

In the vehicle, we need to have the current annual inspection sticker or the annual inspection form.  Our recommendation is to have both the sticker and the form in the vehicle. 

In the office, you need to have the current annual inspection form as well as the previous annual DOT inspection. You need to have a total of 14 months of DOT annual inspections. So if you keep 2 annual inspections then you are always covered.

Who Can Conduct an Annual DOT Inspection

Anyone in your company that has a minimum of 1-year previous experience in a shop conducting annual DOT inspections can do your annual inspections.  

When you utilize your own mechanics then you also need to have another form on file, and that’s the inspector’s qualification form.  If you want one of those forms. Please reach out to us and we will be happy to share one with you.

If you choose to hire a third party, then you want to make sure that they are competent to conduct a proper inspection.  You can do this by asking for their inspector qualifications before you have them start the inspection. 

Keep in mind that some states require inspections to register your vehicle.  If you are in one of those states like Texas, then make sure that when you get your CMV inspected you get a DOT inspection. 

We sure hope that this helps.

If you like to use our forms and our smaller aluminum embossable stickers, reach out to us today to get prices (PS our prices are better than anyone!)

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