The Importance of Daily Checks on Vehicles and Machinery

Toolbox Talk

30th May 2019 | Info

Filling in a simple form before you leave the yard could save you a fine and points on your licence – as well as ensuring you are safe to be on the road.

It is important to undertake daily visual checks on vehicles and machinery to make sure that there has not been an occurrence to the vehicle or machine that will cause it to operate insufficiently or cause expensive damage. Daily checks are a visual procedure that isn’t especially time-consuming but could save you from serious issues or damage. Below is a list of some of the high profile items to check when making your daily inspections.

Engine oil

It is common knowledge to most that not having enough oil in the engine will engine damage as a result of the engine pistons overheating and ceasing to function. Therefore, modern vehicles have warning lights on the dashboard and sensors to register if the oil level drops below the minimum level required.

It is just as important not to overfill the engine as this can also cause damage. Overfilling with oil can cause something known as ‘windage’, where the crankshaft froths up the oil, increases the crankcase pressure and puts extra strain on the crankcase seals.

  • Only check the oil as per the manufacturer’s guidelines in the manual. For example, some engines need to be slightly warmed up first by running the engine for a short period due to the positioning of the oil filter.
  • Make sure the vehicle is level. If on a gradient you will not see a true reading.
  • Do not add too much oil at once when topping up the oil. A sump will hold a specified amount of oil and generally it is only the last percentage of oil that will register on the dip stick. So whenever topping up the oil, add a little at a time, wait for the oil to drain, then check again before adding more.


Remember! If the level is in between the lines on the dipstick then there is enough in the engine. It is a sealed unit and unless there is a leak you should not have to top up oil regularly. Daily checks are done to make sure that there has not been an occurrence like a severe leak or damage to the sump or engine, causing all the oil to be lost. This means that you don’t have to put oil in the engine if it is slightly below the full mark on the dipstick as this can encourage overfilling. It is always recommended that any vehicle or machine you operate is regularly serviced by a qualified mechanic.

Hydraulic oil

Hydraulic oil is a very harmful and toxic substance and can cause damage if it comes into contact with a person’s skin. It should never be checked whilst a vehicle is running as it would be pressurised and when under such pressure, if a pipe bursts or comes loose, it could cut and cause serious injury to an individual.

If a machine that works under hydraulics such as a Woodchipper or a Mobile Elevated Work Platform is low on oil, then the machine will simply not work or be limited in its working capacity. The warning signs will be when the machinery begins to work more slowly or in the case of a MEWP – to its full capacity.

Overfilling a hydraulic tank could result in detrimental effects on a machine as the oil will get hot when in use and expand. This could overflow from the tank or cause a pipe to burst.

  • Never check the level when the machine is running.
  • Only a competent, trained person should top up the hydraulic oil. This should never be undertaken by an inexperienced person.
  • Never come make direct contact with hydraulic oil as it is very harmful. Always wear the correct PPE and gloves.

Engine coolant

Never check the engine coolant when the engine is running or warm as it will be very hot and pressurised. Removing the cap under these conditions could result in hot liquid or steam spraying onto the inspector and causing harm.

It is very important to consult the manufacturers manual or ask a qualified mechanic to establish what type of coolant to use. They generally come in red or blue/green colours and the different colour types should never be mixed.

Steering and brake fluid

Like hydraulic oil, these liquids are very harmful if they come into direct contact with a person’s skin and should only be replaced/topped up by a competent person wearing the correct PPE.

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