HGV daily walkaround checks: how to safely check your brakes

Home > Advice Centre > Daily Checks > HGVs > HGV daily walkaround checks: how to safely check your brakes

Updated 07/11/2022

As a driver, you need to check that your vehicle is safe to drive before embarking on any journey. This requirement is especially critical for heavy goods vehicles (HGV), as their size and weight could cause catastrophic human and financial losses in an accident. Therefore, performing an HGV daily check is crucial, with special attention paid to the vehicle’s brakes.

In this guide, we will explain the importance of HGV daily walkaround checks, how to check your brakes safely, and why it is important.

How can I check my brakes during my daily vehicle check?

As an HGV driver, your daily walkaround check involves inspecting the interior and exterior sections of the vehicle to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. When checking the inside, critical areas include the windscreen, side and rear-view mirrors, windscreen wipers, dashboard warning lights and gauges, steering wheel, horn, brakes, height markers, and seatbelts.

Focusing on the brakes, confirm that there are no air leaks, the warning system works, and air build-up is normal. The footwell needs to be clear for safety, and the service brake needs to be in good working order for the tractor and trailer brakes. You also need to check that the tractor’s parking brake is working. Furthermore, test the service brake pedal to rule out excessive play or worn-out anti-slip tread.

You can find out more about checking your brakes and other daily walkaround checks on our website here.

What is the DVSA guidance on HGV brake testing?

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends that you perform a brake test on your HGV at least four times a year on a roller brake tester, although daily testing is still expected. The brake testing needs to be with a full load unless the vehicle qualifies to be tested unladen due to design limitations or special cargo.

The DVSA has specific locations where you can take your HGV or PSV for brake testing. To ensure safe driving and successful tests:

  • Maintain your vehicle in the best possible condition.
  • Load the vehicle before going for the test. You need at least 65% axle load capacity laden. You can get it loaded before the test at the site, but you’ll be charged for the service.
  • Avoid steam cleaning the brake system before the test. While you need to remove debris and check for any defects, steam cleaning compromises brake performance, thus failing the test.
  • Do not tamper with the load-sensing valve, as you may stress the brakes too much, thus costing you the test.

Motorway traffic through new town

What can the DVSA do if I have not checked my brakes correctly?

The DVSA has the right to stop any HGV on the road and inspect its braking system, among other components. Failing a brake test means you could get a £100 fine and three points on your driving licence.

This is why it is crucially important to check your brakes during your daily HGV checks. To create your own digital checklist, or to enquire about our custom checklist template, please get in touch with AssetGo today.

Why is it so important to check my HGV brakes?

Checking your HGV brakes is the best way to ensure optimum performance and to learn when you need to intervene.

Reduce wear and tear

Checking HGV and PSV brakes gives you an idea of what could be wrong with the braking system and which sections need attention. For example, a poorly installed brake pad needs adjustment to ensure optimum performance. You can identify this problem through brake testing and make the necessary adjustments, thus reducing unnecessary wear and tear.

Better safety

A heavy goods vehicle needs to stop on cue and at a reasonable distance. Poorly functioning brakes compromise that ability, thus endangering the driver and other road users. A safety inspection helps identify when the braking system is functioning poorly or if any other defect is present, allowing you to correct them. This way, you’ll drive and stop safely on the road.

Fewer maintenance costs

Identifying and addressing brake system issues early saves you significant maintenance costs. Ignoring braking system issues until it is too late may have you replacing whole components or incurring steep charges to fix existing ones.

Better handling and stopping the vehicle

As mentioned, you need the ability to stop the vehicle at will. Brakes are a critical part of the driving experience, where wrestling with a loaded HGV that won’t stop is a huge challenge. Fully functional brakes in perfect condition allow a stress-free handling and stopping experience.

2 lorries on a road

How AssetGo can help

Here at AssetGo, we can take away the tedious process of paper checks by providing a digital system that records your daily checks online, as well as providing an audit trail of previous checks. You’ll find preloaded DVSA-compliant checklists for HGVs that are customisable to suit your fleet’s specific needs. The app generates secure and tamper-proof reports which ensures integrity in your operations, as a daily check cannot be altered once a report has been submitted.

The reports also have a GPS and time stamp for authenticity and to enable management to monitor inspection exercises. You can easily report accidents and incidents through the app. The app shares vital information about the event for better insight.

The compliance management dashboard shows important KPI’s and real-time data to enable more efficient managerial oversight. Get in touch with us for a demonstration of AssetGo’s walkaround checklist features.

Common Queries

What are the three main braking systems in a lorry?

The three main braking systems are the secondary brakes, service brakes, and parking brakes. The service brake system is the main solution to stopping the HGV or PSV when you apply the foot pedal. The secondary brake system comes into play should the primary solution fail. The parking brake system keeps the stationary HGV in place. It is a separate system from the primary and secondary stopping solutions.

How often does an HGV need its brakes tested?

According to industry regulations, an HGV needs its brakes tested at least four times a year on a brake tester.

Related content

What is an HGV daily walkaround check and why are they so important?

HGV daily checks: the importance of checking your tyres

HGV daily checks: what is AdBlue and why is it so important?