Dissecting Inspections: What Car Inspectors Check
In every state, safety inspections on vehicles are handled differently, but here are some general inspection types. This list can help you know what might need to be addressed before you take your vehicle in for its inspection. That way, you can avoid having the vehicle fail the first time. Even if you aren’t taking your vehicle in for a safety inspection, these are good areas of your vehicle to be conscious of to keep you and your passengers as safe as possible.


The inspector will check the condition of your vehicle’s tires, including the spare. Make sure they are all in good condition, not cracking or worn too much, and are of the same style and size. Mismatched tires can mess up the car’s alignment.


The brakes of your vehicle will be inspected to ensure all the parts are present and functioning. Any leaks will be addressed. The disc rotors, linings, brake pads, and drums will all be observed to make sure nothing is defective or worn and that all the equipment is standard factory or its equivalent. The inspector will also make sure the brakes have the proper adjustment. Be aware that the inspection will include your emergency brake, so make sure it is in functioning order as well.

Seat Belts

The inspector should be checking your seat belts for functionality, correct installation, and overall condition. This inspection should cover all the belts, including those in the back seat.


When most people think of the light inspection, they think of headlights. However, other lights need to be tested as well:

  • Brake lights
  • Turn signals
  • Emergency flashers
  • High beams
  • Side lights
  • Backup lights

The inspector will make sure the lights are all approved, equipped with the proper bulbs, and that the lenses, wiring, and switches are all in good working order.

Rear License Plate

The rear license plate needs to be visible and have proper illumination.


Your vehicle’s windshield is inspected for any cracked, chipped, scratched, clouded, distorted, or broken glass. Any obstruction to vision (including unauthorized stickers) will be addressed. The wiper blades and their condition will also be under the scrutiny of the inspector.


Minor alignment issues should not cause a vehicle to fail an inspection, but major alignment issues will.


The condition of the reflective surface of your vehicle’s mirrors will be inspected, as well as the visibility they provide (with 200 feet at the rear being the minimum).

Exhaust and Fuel Systems

The inspector will check both of these systems for leaks. All the parts will be inspected to ensure they are in working order and free of damage.


If an airbag has been deployed, it needs to be replaced. An inspector will make sure the airbags are installed correctly and that no part of the system has been deactivated or removed (unless it is medically necessary to have them deactivated).

Hood Area

Under the hood, the inspector will check out the different fluid levels, including brake fluid and power steering fluid. The belts will be inspected to make sure they are not too worn or damaged and also to ensure they have the proper tension. The inspector is not only checking under the hood but is also reviewing the condition of the hood itself. If the hood latch is in poor condition, it could inhibit a vehicle from passing the inspection.

Signaling Device

The inspector will check the turn signal to ensure it operates correctly and is equipped with the proper bulb. The lens color and condition, as well as the condition of the wiring will also be checked.

Remember each state will handle safety inspections differently, so your state may be more or less strict when it comes to the inspections they perform on your vehicle. Safety inspections help keep the cars on the road safe, which keeps you, your passengers, and anyone in vehicles around you as safe as possible. While taking your car in for an inspection can feel cumbersome, it gives you peace of mind that your vehicle is in good working condition. If your state does not require safety inspections, consider running through this list periodically yourself to catch any problems early.

In addition to being a Salt Lake City, Utah, car dealership, we are also a top quality auto service provider. Contact us to schedule your safety and emissions inspections, as well as trip inspections, maintenance inspections, and light and brake inspections.


Dissecting Inspections: What Car Inspectors Check