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Reducing Downtime Caused by Faulty Truck Lighting

Industry News | 05.04.23 | Carlos Romious

One of the most common causes of downtime in the trucking industry is faulty equipment resulting in service violations. According to a report from FleetOwner, the 2022 International Roadcheck revealed that more than 12,000 vehicles and 4,000 drivers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico were put out of service during nearly 60,000 inspections occurring in those three countries. For many years, lighting has been one of the most common issues leading to service violations. In 2022, lighting issues accounted for more than 12 percent of all service violations, putting more than 2,200 trucks out of service for at least three days.

As a trucking industry executive, you understand the dire financial and reputational consequences of downtime. Here is a look at some of the common lighting issues that are experienced in commercial trucks and what you can do to avoid these issues and keep your trucks operating.

A Common Mistake Made By Truckers that Leads to Lighting Violations

As noted in the FleetOwner report, it can take time to check all of the lights on a Class 8 tractor attached to a 53-foot trailer. A common mistake that truckers make during pre-inspection is to attempt to determine if the right and left turn signals are working by simply turning on the hazards and ensuring that if all the lights are blinking, everything is working, even though this generally involves turning one signal on, walking to the back of the vehicle and checking to see if it is working, and then walking back to the cab to complete the same task on the other side.

What Can Go Wrong With a Truck’s Lighting System?

There are many things that can create lighting issues on commercial trucks that go beyond answering the simple question of whether they’re illuminated. Lamp lenses and housing can become cracked or fatigued and allow the intrusion of moisture. Harness or pigtail conductors can become brittle, stripped, or kinked. One of the most common issues to lead to lighting issues is corrosion on the terminal or plugs, which can leave telltale signs such as the failure of individual diodes in an LED lamp assembly.

Lighting Pre-Inspection Checklist

Without a consistent maintenance schedule and vigorous pre-and post-trip inspections, a minor lighting issue can lead to major headaches and money lost as a result of downtime. At a minimum, drivers should complete the following tasks during their pre-trip inspection before they start out on their pickup:

  • Turning off all of the vehicle’s lights, and then turning on stop lights by applying the trailer hand brake or depressing the brake pedal.
  • Turning on the left turn signal and exiting the vehicle in order to ensure that the lights in the front and back are clean, operating properly, and displaying the proper color.
  • Repeating the process on the right side of the vehicle.
  • And don’t forget the clearance lights and tractor head lights!
  • Finally, before starting the vehicle, the driver should turn off all lights that are not needed for driving.


Drivers should also be trained to spot other indicators of lighting issues, such as wiring that is hanging down or is improperly secured, damaged wiring or temporary repairs that could allow moisture to seep into the lighting assembly and cause corrosion, wires that are routed, clipped, or chafing, and lamp lenses that are in poor condition.

Peterson Has a Variety of Lighting Solutions

As a world leader in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of commercial vehicle and trailer wiring harnesses and lighting systems, Peterson Manufacturing, Inc. has built a reputation of providing solutions for our customers’ most challenging issues. By using the most modern technology and automated assembly equipment, we deliver quality products and world-class customer service. To learn more about the solutions that are available for your fleet, visit our website.

Peterson Manufacturing Company
Founded in 1945, Peterson Manufacturing Company is a world-leading innovator in the design, engineering and manufacturing of a complete line of commercial vehicle/trailer safety lighting and harness systems. With headquarters in the greater Kansas City area, Peterson is a privately held company. An ISO 9001:2015 certified company, Peterson Manufacturing is a key subsidiary of Peterson Corporation, five highly specialized companies and nearly 700 associates working in global transportation-related industries. For more information, visit