Heavy Vehicles

Circle Check

Before getting behind the wheel, drivers must make sure that a circle check of their vehicle was completed within the previous 24 hours.

This measure came into effect on November 20, 2016.

In brief

The circle check is a sight and sound inspection of the accessible components of a vehicle that makes it possible to:

  • detect defects as early as possible
  • quickly notify the owner and operator of any defects detected
  • prevent the vehicle from being operated when its condition poses a risk of an accident or a breakdown 
Warning

Important!

Drivers must carry out these inspections safely.

Vehicles subject to a circle check

  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,500 kg or more
    • Ambulances
    • Cement mixers
    • Tank trucks
    • Fire trucks
    • Straight-body trucks
    • Snow removal trucks
    • Vans
    • Pickup trucks
    • Tow trucks
    • Semi-trailers
    • Road tractors
    • Emergency response vehicles
    • Equipment transport vehicles (compressors, well drills, concrete pumps, cranes mounted on a truck chassis)
  • Combinations of road vehicles that include at least one vehicle with a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more
    For example:
    • A pickup truck with a GVWR of less than 4,500 hitched to a trailer or semi-trailer with a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more
    • A pickup truck with a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more hitched to a trailer or semi-trailer with a GVWR of less than 4,500 kg
    • A pickup truck with a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more hitched to a trailer or semi-trailer with a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more (each vehicle in the combination has a GVWR of 4,500 kg or more)
  • Buses, minibuses and tow trucks (regardless of GVWR)
    For example:
    • Motor coaches
    • Minibuses
    • School buses
    • Paratransit minibuses
    • City buses
    • Tow trucks (all types)
  • Road vehicles with a GVWR of less than 4,500 kg transporting dangerous substances and requiring the display of safety marks

Vehicles exempt from the circle check

  • Tool vehicles
    • Graders
    • Loaders
    • Back hoes
  • Heavy vehicles required by an emergency service or in the event of a disaster
  • Farm tractors
  • Farm machinery (e.g. combine-harvesters)
  • Farm trailers (e.g. a hay trailer owned by a farmer and used for farming purposes)
  • Heavy vehicles used by a natural person for personal ends, i.e. other than for commercial or professional purposes (e.g. a truck used to move household belongings)
  • Straight-body trucks with two or three axles used to:
    • transport unprocessed farm, forest or fishery products, provided the driver is also the producer
    • make the return trip, provided the truck is either empty or used to transport products used for farming, forestry or fishery purposes

Drivers’ responsibilities

Before getting behind the wheel, drivers must make sure that a circle check of the vehicle was completed within the previous 24 hours.

The vehicle circle check can be performed by the driver or another person designated by the operator. In the latter case, the operator is accountable for the circle check and the driver can choose to either accept or refuse it.

  • If the driver accepts the report, he or she makes sure that the circle check is valid (completed within the previous 24 hours) and co-signs the report to acknowledge it. Accepting the report does not render the driver accountable for the circle check, but the driver must keep the report up to date and record any defects observed during the trip.
  • If the driver refuses the report, he or she must carry out a new circle check.
Useful information

Buses, minibuses, tow trucks and emergency vehicles

In addition to the rule described above, a driver can co-sign the circle check report completed by the previous driver, even if the latter person is not a person designated by the operator to carry out the circle check.

  • If the driver accepts the report, he or she makes sure that the circle check is valid (completed within the previous 24 hours) and co-signs the report to acknowledge it. Accepting the report then renders the driver accountable for the circle check carried out by the previous driver, as it was not carried out by a person designated by the operator. The driver must also keep the report up to date and record any defects observed during the trip.
  • If the driver refuses the report, he or she must carry out a new circle check.

Principal components to inspect during a circle check

  1. Coupling devices
  2. Frame and cargo body
  3. Heater/defroster
  4. Driver controls
  5. Steering
  6. Windshield wiper/washer
  7. Emergency equipment
  8. Headlights and lights
  9. Tires
  10. Doors and other exits
  11. Glass and mirrors
  12. Wheels, hubs and fasteners
  13. Seats
  14. Suspension
  15. Fuel system
  16. Exhaust system
  17. Electric brake system
  18. Hydraulic brake system
  19. Air brake system
  20. Passenger transportation items

Circle check report

The person who carries out the circle check must fill out the report and record his or her observations.

The report must contain the following information:

  • the vehicle’s licence plate number or the unit number found on the registration certificate
  • the operator’s name
  • the date and time at which the circle check was performed
  • the municipality or location on the road where the circle check was performed
  • any defects noted during the trip
  • any defects noted during the circle check (if no defect was noted, this must be indicated as well)
  • the name of the person who performed the circle check (printed legibly)
  • a declaration, signed by the driver or the person designated to perform the circle check, attesting that the vehicle was inspected in accordance with applicable requirements
  • if the driver did not personally perform the circle check, his or signature to attest that he or she read the report and accepted it
  • the odometer reading.

Electronic format

Although regulatory provisions clearly specify the elements that must be included in a circle check report, nothing specifies the format in which it must be produced. The use of an electronic docu¬ment is thus permitted, but it must meet the requi-rements set forth in the Act to establish a legal framework for information technology. Refer to Appendix 6 – Circle Check Report of the Circle Check Guide to find out more.

Lists of defects

The list of defects is a checklist that enumerates the components to inspect and the defects that can be detected on a vehicle. It is used to determine whether defects noted during a circle check are minor or major.

There are three lists of defects that must be used during the circle check.

  • List 1: Heavy vehicles, other than those covered by lists 2 and 3
  • List 2: Buses (other than motor coaches), minibuses and trailers hauled by a bus, minibus or motor coach
  • List 3: Motor coaches exclusively
Warning

Important!

A new specific inspection of the mechanical condition of motor coaches has been implemented. For more information, visit the Specific Inspection of the Mechanical Condition of Motor Coaches page.

If a defect is detected

All persons concerned have a duty to intervene when a vehicle’s mechanical condition presents anomalies. Anomalies that pose an immediate or short-term risk to road safety are considered major or minor defects.

Minor defects

A minor defect does not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the driver or other road users, but can deteriorate quickly in certain cases. A vehicle with a minor defect is prohibited from being operated if repairs are not performed and declared compliant by a road vehicle inspection agent within 48 hours.

Major defects

A major defect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the driver and other road users. A vehicle with a major defect is prohibited from being operated.

For complete information about minor and major mechanical defects, refer to the Mechanical Inspection Guide (PDF, 8.3 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards..

Operators’ responsibilities

Operators must make sure:

  • a circle check report is placed on board every vehicle
  • the designated person carries out the circle check
  • the driver keeps the circle check report on board the vehicle
  • they sign the circle check report if there is a defect
  • they immediately notify the owner of any defect
  • they send the owner a copy of the circle check report
Useful information

Keeping the circle check report

For every heavy vehicle, operators must keep a copy of the circle check documents for at least 6 months.

Owners’ responsibilities

Owners are required to:

  • maintain their vehicles in good condition
  • correct any reported defects
    • minor defect: the owner has 48 hours to have any necessary repairs made in order maintain the right to operate the vehicle
    • major defect: the vehicle is prohibited from being operated until the necessary repairs have been made
  • obtain the circle check reports from the operator
Useful information

Keeping the circle check report

For every heavy vehicle, operators must keep:

  • a copy of the circle check documents for at least 6 months
  • any documents attesting to the repair of defects for at least 12 months

For complete information on circle checks, consult the Circle Check Guide (PDF, 10.6 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. and the summary tables describing key aspects of the new circle check (administrative component) (PDF, 244 KB) and the new minor and major defects (PDF, 237 KB).