Category Archives: Maryland State Inspection

Most Common Reasons Vehicles Fail Maryland State Inspection

cats in the car

We can haz approve the interior!

As we covered in our previous post about the process of the Maryland state inspection, Maryland residents don’t have to have their vehicles inspected annually. However, when you do need inspection, we are sure you’d like to pass it the first time.

At Ormsby Auto, we inspect hundreds of vehicles every year. Our mechanics know the state regulations pertaining to vehicle safety and they will never fail (or approve) your car without substantial evidence. If the inspection is due, we recommend taking your vehicle to your mechanic and having him do a thorough exam of all vital car components. Particularly have him focus on the following areas, as these are few of the most common reasons why many cars fail Maryland state inspection, from our experience.


Unlike your car’s body, auto glass, interior and lights, the condition of your brakes can’t be visually confirmed without partial disassembly. And if you haven’t been diligent with the car maintenance, have driven with your emergency brake on, or purchased a used car with unknown history, it’s a good idea to check the brakes and replace them if necessary before they fail inspection.


The minimal tire tread depth that will let you pass the inspection is 2/32 of an inch. You’ve probably heard about the test with a penny. Stick a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s figure upside down and facing you. If at least half of his head is covered, you are good to go. You can also repeat this experiment with a quarter, and if a part of Washington’s head is covered, you are even in a better place with 4/32 of an inch tread depth.


It’s not uncommon among car owners to drive with illegal tint between the inspections and then remove the tint to pass. If you are one of them, you probably already know what to do. However, many drivers don’t realize that most vehicles come with pre-tinted windows. According to the Maryland laws, tinted auto glass must let through at least 35% of light, which means that applying tint that meets this requirement on a pre-tinted window will make the tint too dark to pass the inspection.


If your “check engine” light is on, don’t even bother sending your car for an inspection, because it will inevitably fail.  “Check engine” light may indicate a wide variety of problems from electrical issues to an unfit gas cap and even a failing engine.


This includes dashboard indicator lights, headlights, turn signals and tail lights. All of them need to meet state and federal regulations, be fully functional and adjusted to the correct brightness. Some after-market Halogen and Xenon-based lights, such as bluish high-intensity discharge (HID) lights might not be legal in some states, especially if they are not utilizing vehicle’s existing light source. Call Ormsby Auto, Maryland Safety Inspection Station #8047-A, and we’ll let you know if your modified headlights will pass the inspection.

Rust and body rot

This mainly concerns older cars with extensive rust issues and body rot. While you can cosmetically mask the rust, you can’t do much about the body rot except for replacing the rotted piece of auto body, which is often rather expensive.

If your local Maryland Safety Inspection station fails your vehicle for the reasons you disagree with, feel free to come to Ormsby Auto for the second opinion. We won’t fail your car just to make you pay for unnecessary repairs; however, there are some dishonest mechanics who will.

Everything You Need to Know About Maryland Vehicle Safety Inspection

vehicle speed meterWhen do you need to get your vehicle inspected?

In Maryland, unlike in many other states, you don’t need to have your vehicle inspected on a regular basis. According to the Maryland law, you only need to have your car inspected in two situations:


(1)    Your vehicle is registered in another state and you have just moved to Maryland. In this case, you have 60 days to register your vehicle in Maryland, and to do that your car must pass Maryland state inspection.

(2)    You are a resident of Maryland and you have become an owner of a used vehicle (you purchased, inherited it or it was a gift). You will need a Maryland Safety Inspection certificate dated no more than 90 days prior to the registration date. This means even if the car you bought has already been inspected this year, you will still need to go through the inspection process again, because the certificate is only valid for 90 days.

Note: if you have purchased your new car from an out-of-state dealership, you don’t need to obtain the inspection certificate. Only used vehicles are required to be inspected.

Where can you get your vehicle inspected in Maryland?

MVA will only accept certificates from authorized safety inspection stations located in Maryland. Ormsby Auto is a station #8047-A and we have several Master Technicians certified by the State of Maryland who can perform safety inspections. A typical inspection usually takes between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours depending on the type of the vehicle.

What does Maryland Safety Inspection cover?

Depending on the type and capacity of the vehicle, different items may be inspected. Generally, the safety inspection covers breaks, steering, lights, exhaust, safety belts and other crucial components of the vehicle. You can refer to the MVA website for the complete list.

Among other things, State of Maryland has certain regulations when it comes to tinted windows. If your car has tinted windows, here’s what you need to know:

-    Prior to 2012 you had to have Maryland State Police Officer from ASED division measure and sign off on your window tint. Now you can have it done at any Maryland State Inspection facility.

-    All windows on a standard sedan vehicle have to let through at least 35% of light.

-    Red, yellow, amber and reflective tint is prohibited by law.

-    Only top 5 inches of a windshield can be tinted.

-    On SUVs, trucks and limousines only the front windshield and two front passenger windows have to meet the 35% requirement; back windows can be as dark as you wish.

-    If less that 35% of light is coming through, the vehicle fails inspection and the tint must be removed.

-    All non-factory custom tint has to be measured and stations may request a separate fee for this procedure.

-    If you plan on removing the tint anyway, remove it prior to an inspection to avoid being charged for tint measurement.

What happens if you don’t pass the inspection?

If everything checks out, the safety inspection station will issue an inspection certificate that you can take to your local MVA office to apply for title and registration. If your car fails the inspection, you will be given a reason why and a recommendation from your mechanic. You have an option to have the necessary repairs performed at the inspection station or you could take your car to your preferred auto service shop.

A few things to keep in mind:

-    You will have 30 days or 1000 miles (whichever occurs first) from the initial inspection to complete the repairs, bring the car for re-inspection and be issued a certificate of compliance. If you wait longer, you will have to start all over.

-    If the repair can be visually confirmed (e.g. new light or a replaced windshield wiper) during the re-inspection, you shouldn’t be charged additional fee for it.

-    If the re-inspection requires lifting the vehicle or removing components, you may be charged for re-inspection, depending on the station’s policies.

We hope we made the procedure of inspecting your car in MD a bit clearer. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll explain all ins and outs in more detail.