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Vehicle Maintenance BASICS

This BASIC was put into practice to ensure that commercial motor vehicles are well maintained and to prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and overloading the vehicle.

Proper Maintenance

Roadside safety violations that may cause a motor carrier to rank poorly in this BASIC include:

  • Operating an out-of-service vehicle or operating a vehicle with inoperative brakes, lights, and/or other mechanical defects, and failure to make required repairs
  • Improper load securement (see the specific requirements by commodity type in 49 CFR Part 393.116–393.136) and cargo retention violations

Documents Freight Carriers Should Keep

If an investigation is conducted, safety investigators may request these types of documents:

  • Roadside inspection reports
  • Vehicle maintenance files
  • Annual vehicle inspection reports
  • Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs)
  • Equipment repair receipts
  • Evidence of driver training on load securement
  • Accident reports

Motor carriers should keep these documents, as required by the FMCSR, and know that safety investigators may use them to assess the nature and severity of safety problems.

Improving Safety Performance

Drivers should know how to properly maintain CMVs for their safety and the safety of others. Employers should ensure their drivers know that any vehicle malfunction, maintenance problem, or load securement issue must be addressed proactively and immediately to prevent crashes.

Motor carriers should educate drivers about how to properly conduct pre- and post-trip inspections, record vehicle defects on DVIRs, and ensure any defects that would hinder safe operation of the vehicle are repaired prior to operating the vehicle. Motor carriers should answer drivers’ questions and direct them to the information they need, including FMCSA’s websites.

For more information about CSA, visit

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