Checklist for Maryland Auto Inspection

by Lani Thompson
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Most used vehicles must pass a safety inspection before they're sold or transferred in the State of Maryland. Licensed inspection stations inspect the vehicles to ensure they conform to regulations governing safety and emissions. The state outlines standards, requirements and procedures in its law code, which can be found on the Maryland State Office of the Secretary of State website.

Steering System

The inspector checks the steering system, to make sure there aren't any loose, damaged or worn parts. The steering wheel must be free from cracks or breaks and, if its a replacement wheel, it must be equivalent to the original.


The inspector tests the brake system with a road test or test equipment in the station. The vehicle shouldn't lock up or pull to the left or the right when the brake is applied, and there should be braking action on all wheels. A visual inspection is also done. The inspector must remove at least one front and one opposite rear wheel and look for defects. If he sees a problem, he must pull the other wheel on the same axle for a complete brake inspection. He also checks the condition of all mechanical components for worn, missing or defective parts.


Inspectors make a visual inspection of the tires, looking for tire wear, tread cuts, cracks in the sidewall, bumps or bulges, fabric breaks or exposed or damaged body cords. In addition, the inspector looks for mismatching of tires and insures that the tires are the correct size. He checks for wheel damage and inspects wheel bolts, nuts and lugs.

Fuel System

The fuel system, including the fuel tank, fuel pump and the piping is inspected for leaks. In addition, the inspector checks to make sure the choke, hand throttle and accelerator all work correctly.

Exhaust System

The inspector ensures there aren't any holes or loose and leaking seams or joints anywhere on the exhaust system. This system includes the exhaust manifold, the muffler, resonator and tail piping as well as all piping connecting the various parts. He also makes sure the system is mounted properly and securely fastened.


Bumpers are checked for sharp edges and broken or missing parts. The inspector insures that they're mounted properly and can absorb a reasonable degree of impact. Bumpers must extend the full width of the vehicle and be the proper height for the type of vehicle. The inspector checks the fenders and flaps for tears or sharp edges and to make sure they're securely fastened to the body, providing required coverage of wheels and tires.


A visual check insures that all interior and exterior lamps are working. Turn signals must properly indicate left and right. In addition, lamps must show proper colors and be mounted correctly. Cracked or broken tail lamps aren't allowed. The inspector checks the entire electrical system to ensure all switches function, the horn works, wiring is properly insulated, connections are tight and secure, and the battery isn't cracked, broken or excessively corroded.


The inspector checks that the vehicle is equipped with all of its mirrors and that they're properly mounted and can be adjusted to give an unobstructed view. Windows must open readily and contain the proper manufacturer's markings for safety glazing. They can't contain cracks, chips or discoloration. Windshield wipers must work correctly, and the blades can't be worn, missing or broken.


All doors, latches, hinges and handles must work, and there can't be any broken or missing parts. The odometer and the speedometer must be connected and working. Vehicles manufactured after 1964 must contain the correct number of working seatbelts, and they can't be worn, frayed or broken. The inspector performs a visual check to insure motor mounts aren't missing or broken, and he checks the universal and constant velocity joints for damage and wear. There can't be any holes in the floor or trunk.

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