Lighting Requirements for Inspection

By Danielle Smyth - Updated March 20, 2018

For the safety of yourself and other drivers, vehicle inspections typically include a check of the various lights on your car. In many states, a vehicle won't pass inspection if certain lights do not work, as they could be necessary in dark, rainy or foggy weather. Even if you reside in a state that does not conduct safety inspections, be sure your lights are in good working order for safety on the road.

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Inspection laws vary by state. In states that require safety inspections and check vehicle lights, it is typically required that all installed lights be in good working order, without cracks or the use of adhesive tape for repairs. It is up to the discretion of each state which lights they choose to inspect.

Which Lights Are Checked During Inspection?

In many states, you are required to pass an inspection of your vehicle on a regular basis that goes beyond emissions testing. Headlights, taillights, hazard lights, brake lights and directionals are typically included in this inspection, but regulations vary by state. For instance, in New York, license plate lights are also inspected. In Massachusetts, headlights, taillights, brake lights and directionals are tested. In Texas, headlights, taillights, stop lights, rear reflectors, directionals and license plate lights are all inspected.

Will a Broken Tail Light Pass Inspection?

In most cases, a broken tail light will not pass inspection. Many state guidelines specifically mention that all lights requiring inspection must be clean, intact, unobstructed and free from cracks. The use of adhesive or tape to repair lights is not permitted. However, if lights are sealed with epoxy so that they are waterproof, they might pass. Some states, like Massachusetts, permit this, while others, like Virginia, do not. If you have a cracked headlight or taillight, be prepared that it won’t pass inspection. Do not attempt to tape the light, even with red adhesive tape, as most states specifically prohibit this.

Do Your Fog Lights Need to Work?

Fog lights are not always a required part of state inspection tests. In New York, for instance, fog lights are not checked when you bring in the vehicle for inspection. In other states, such as Pennsylvania, fog lights are not a required part of a vehicle’s assembly. If they are broken, drivers are permitted to remove them prior to the inspection. The vehicle will pass inspection with no fog lights, but will not pass with broken fog lights. Similarly, in Virginia, fog lamps are not required, but the state’s laws require that if they are installed, they must be fully functioning.

Laws regarding state inspections are highly specific to the state in which you reside. Safety inspection regulations change often, so it’s best to refer to your jurisdiction’s laws prior to scheduling a vehicle check. Regardless of the local laws, it is safer for everyone on the road, including yourself, if all the lights on your vehicle work properly.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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