Here in Maryland, vehicle inspections are a fact of life. Before selling a used car, you must get it inspected at an authorized state inspection station. As the buyer of a used car, you should expect the seller to give you the state inspection certificate before they sign it over to you.
If the vehicle fails the inspection, you’ll need to have it repaired before having it inspected again. If the repairs aren’t done within 30 days or 1,000 miles, you will have to pay for an entirely new inspection again.
The Old Line State’s vehicle state inspection process is known to be one of the most rigorous in the country. Cars or trucks fail for dozens of reasons. Here are some common ones.
1. Brakes – During a brake inspection, a technician will check the entire system including the pedal, pads, fluid, lines, hoses, assembly, and the parking brake. The health of your brakes is crucial. If they aren’t responsive enough to help you stop your car at a split-second’s notice, you can end up in a severe fender bender. Brakes wear out quickly because you use them so often so it’s important to get them checked regularly, not just for inspection. Also, a fun fact about Maryland inspections is that if your brake pedal is worn, the inspector will fail the car. Who knew!?
2. Tires – Your tire treads grip the road when you drive. If they’re not deep enough, your car won’t have enough traction, and it will take you longer to brake and control your car in wet weather. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, there were 664 total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2020 from tire-related crashes. Maryland requires a minimum of 2/32 of an inch tread depth. You don’t need a specific tool to measure your tread, although that’s the most accurate – you can measure it with a penny. Place the penny between the treads on your tire. Turn it so the “heads’ side points down into the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head disappears between the treads, your tread is still higher than 2/32 of an inch. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, your treads have worn out, and your car won’t pass the inspection.
3. Window tinting – If you’ve added a tint on your driver and right-front passenger door windows, it will need at least 35 percent light transmittance to pass a Maryland Vehicle Safety Inspection. Transmittance refers to the amount of light that can still pass through the glass. Maryland disallows red, yellow, amber, or tints with a sparkling or reflective effect.
4. Lights – The purpose of headlights is to help you see and be seen on the road at night. And of course, there are many other lights in your car. A vehicle safety inspection technician will also check your fog lights, turn signals, taillights, and interior lights, including those on your dashboard, such as high beam indicators. If any of those are not functioning, or you have a cracked lens on any of your lights, you can expect your car to fail the inspection.
5. Check engine light – Your check engine light can mean many things, from a faulty gas cap to a failed catalytic converter or even a malfunctioning oxygen sensor. Regardless of the reason, an illuminated check engine light will cause a failed inspection.
6. Windshield wipers – Windshield wipers may seem like a minor car part — until it rains. They are crucial to keeping you and your passengers safe by maintaining visibility during inclement weather. Check for excessive wear, tears, and any other problems, and replace them before your inspection if necessary.
Give Your Old Car a Second Chance
Donating your car to Second Chances Garage makes a difference for Frederick County individuals and families in need on their journey to independent living. You don’t need a Maryland Vehicle Safety Inspection or emissions test before donating your car to Second Chances. We inspect all our cars before we give them to families or sell them. We have awarded over 300 vehicles to local families. Donate a car today and help empower someone to return to the driver’s seat of life again.