CALIFORNIA DMV OFFICIAL BRAKE AND LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION PROCEDURES EXPLAINED

FAST ZIP CODE MAP SEARCH TOOL INSTANTLY LOCATE BRAKE INSPECTION STATIONS

INFORMATIVE ARTICLE REAL PURPOSE OF DMV BRAKE AND LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION 

INFORMATIVE ARTICLE  BRAKE AND LAMP INSPECTION PROCEDURES

WHAT IS A SAVAGE TITLE  AND HOW DO I GET ONE

MOBILE VERSION OF THIS PAGE

ABOUT US

FAQs

BRAKE INSPECTION PROCEDURES  https://www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Brake_Adjuster_Handbook.pdf

LAMP INSPECTION PROCEDURES  https://www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Lamp_Handbook_9.3.15.pdf

FIRST OF ALL, IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE APPLIES TO PASSENGER VEHICLES ONLY. A DIFFERENT SET OF REGULATIONS APPLY TO HEAVY DUTY VEHICLES.

SO, YOU WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT ARE THE DMV BRAKE AND LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES USED WHEN CONDUCTING THE OFFICIAL BRAKE INSPECTION IN CALIFORNIA? YOUR VEHICLE HAS BEEN DECLARED A “TOTAL LOSS” BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY BUT YOU LOVE YOUR CAR SO YOU BOUGHT IT  BACK AND  FOUND A BODY SHOP TO FIX IT UP AND NOW DMV IS TELLING YOU THAT YOU NEED TO GET AN OFFICIAL BRAKE AND LAMP INSPECTION TO GET YOUR CAR REGISTRATION. YOU COUNTER THAT YOUR CAR IS REGISTERED UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR. THEY PATIENTLY EXPLAIN THAT YOUR CAR WILL NEED TO BE RE-TITLED. YOU ASK WHERE YOU CAN GET THE INSPECTION DONE. THEIR RESPONSE, “LOOK IN THE YELLOW PAGES”

YOU LOOK AND LOOK BUT CAN’T FIND A SINGLE PLACE! FRUSTRATING

WELL, YOU’VE COME  TO THE  RIGHT PLACE. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BRAKE AND LAMP INSPECTION RULES AND EXACTLY HOW THE INSPECTION WILL BE CARRIED OUT IS EXPLAINED ON THIS PAGE. READ THIS PAGE CAREFULLY, FOLLOW IT’S GUIDANCE. AND YOU’LL HAVE YOUR CERTIFICATES IN YOUR HAND QUICKLY!

WHILE YOU ARE READING ALL THE STEPS INVOLVED IN THE INSPECTION PROCEDURES, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE VEHICLE MUST SCORE 100% IN ORDER TO PASS THE INSPECTION.

VISIT THE PAGES WE’VE LINKED TO ABOVE FOR MORE IN DEPTH INFORMATION CONCERNING STATION AND TECHNICIAN LICENSING AND OTHER MATTERS.

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN THE ARTICLE ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT IS A CALIFORNIA SALVAGE VEHICLE TITLE.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST THE TECHNICIAN AND SHOP TO PURCHASE THE TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT REQUIRED TO CONDUCT JUST THE BRAKE SECTION OF THE COMBINED BRAKE AND LAMP INSPECTION COST?  ROUGHLY $1000. THE TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT TO CONDUCT THE OFFICIAL LAMP INSPECTION IS EASILY DOUBLE THAT AMOUNT.

TECHNICIANS WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE CONTENTS OF THE BRAKE INSPECTION REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES  HANDBOOK. THEY HAVE ESTIMATED THE TIME TO COMPLETE THE CALIFORNIA OFFICIAL BRAKE INSPECTION REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES WOULD TAKE AT LEAST SEVERAL HOURS.

HERE IS A CHECKLIST OF WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A DMV BRAKE INSPECTION. FOR MORE IN DEPTH EXPLANATION, SEE  https://www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Brake_Adjuster_Handbook.pdf

WHAT MUST WORK (EVERYTHING ON PG 22)

TIRES ON THE SAME AXLE SHOULD HAVE THE SAME TIRE
PRESSURE, TREAD PATTERN, AND SIZE. ALSO,
RADIAL AND BIAS OR BIAS BELT TIRES SHOULD NOT BE  INTERMIXED.

LOOSE WHEEL WHEEL HUB BEARINGS MAY ALLOW A BRAKE DRUM OR ROTOR TO
LEAN TO ONE SIDE, CAUSING UNEVEN BRAKE SHOE CONTACT AND ERRATIC BRAKING.

WORN OR BROKEN SHOCKS OR STRUTS MAY CAUSE A VEHICLE TO REACT ERRATICALLY DURING SEVERE BRAKING.

WHEEL ALIGNMENT MISALIGNMENT OF THE FRONT AND/OR REAR END OF A VEHICLE MAY CAUSE THE APPEARANCE OF UNEQUAL BRAKING ACTION FROM SIDE TO SIDE. CHECK FOR UNEVEN TIRE WEAR FOR SIGNS OF THIS PROBLEM.

SUSPENSION SYSTEM BROKEN, WORN, OR MIS-ADJUSTED SUSPENSION SYSTEMS MAY CAUSE A VEHICLE TO REACT ERRATICALLY WHEN BRAKING. SUSPENSION COMPONENTS SHOULD BE INSPECTED AS PART OF THE BRAKE PERFORMANCE DIAGNOSIS.

DASH WARNING LIGHTS MOST VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH ANTI-LOCK BRAKES ARE ALSO EQUIPPED WITH A LAMP IN THE DASH TO WARN THE DRIVER OF AN ANTI-LOCK SYSTEM MALFUNCTION. THEREFORE, WHEN SERVICING A VEHICLE WITH AN ANTI-LOCK BRAKE SYSTEM, CHECK TO SEE IF ANY BRAKE RELATED DASH WARNING LAMPS ARE ILLUMINATED, INDICATING THAT AN ANTI-LOCK TROUBLE CODE MAY BE STORED IN THE COMPUTER.

IF THE DASH BRAKE WARNING LAMP OR ABS LAMP IS LIT, CHECK THE VEHICLE  MANUFACTURER’S RECOMMENDATIONS BEFORE PROCEEDING. IF THE MANUFACTURER INDICATES THAT A LIT WARNING LAMP REPRESENTS A CONDITION THAT WILL OR COULD CAUSE THE VEHICLE’S SERVICE BRAKE SYSTEM TO MALFUNCTION, A CERTIFICATE CANNOT BE ISSUED..

THE FOLLOWING ITEMS MUST BE CHECKED AND REPAIRED AS NECESSARY

BRAKE FLUID RESERVOIR MUST BE FILLED, RESERVOIR VENT MUST BE OPEN, BRAKE BOOSTER MUST NOT SHOW EVIDENCE OF FLUID LEAKAGE, PEDAL LINKAGE MUST BE CHECKED,  POWER BRAKE UNIT MUST BE INSPECTED CAREFULLY, CHECK ELECTRICAL PUMPS AND MOTORS FOR LEAKAGE AND PROPER WIRING. (ALL ON PG 23)

THEN, CHECK BRAKE LIGHT OPERATION (PG 23) NO LESS THAN 8 TESTS OF THE BRAKE PEDAL ASSEMBLY (PG 24) THE PARKING BRAKE TESTING (PG 25)  A SLOW SPEED STOPPING TEST ( PG 25) ANOTHER 8 PART INSPECTION OF THE DISC BRAKES (PG 25) AND ANOTHER 8 ITEM INSPECTION OF THE REAR DRUM BRAKE SYSTEM (PG 26).

NEXT COMES THE CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION INSPECTIONS AND  FINALLY THE PRIMARY STOPPING TEST (PG 30) WHICH INVOLVES MEASURING THE STOPPING DISTANCE IN FEET. FROM A  ROAD SPEED OF  20 MPH. THE VEHICLE MUST STOP WITHIN  25 FEET.

 

SHOP OWNERS REMARK HOW LITTLE THE POTENTIAL CUSTOMER ACTUALLY KNOWS ABOUT HOW IN DEPTH THE PROCEDURES ARE WHEN REQUESTING THE INSPECTION. AND SEEMINGLY, COST OF THE INSPECTION IS THE OVERRIDING FACTOR IN THE SHOP SELECTION MAKING PROCESS. READING UP ON THE INFORMATION WILL CHANGE THAT!

EXACTLY WHO DETERMINES THE COST OF A BRAKE AND LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION? THE OPERATOR OF THE STATION DOES. THE ONLY COST  DICTATED BY THE STATE IS THE COST OF THE CERTIFICATES WHICH IS $3.50 A PIECE FOR A TOTAL OF $7.00.WHILE THE COST TO CONDUCT THE INSPECTION SHOULD BE A PART OF THE PROCESS, PRICE ALONE SHOULD NOT BE THE ONLY FACTOR.

FOR EXAMPLE, ANOTHER INSPECTION REQUIRED OF A GREAT NUMBER OF CALIFORNIA MOTORISTS IS THE OFFICIAL SMOG CHECK INSPECTION. MANY SHOPS THAT CONDUCT SMOG CHECK SERVICES  HAVE A POLICY WHERE THEY OFFER A FREE, OR LOW COST RETEST.WHY? BECAUSE,  A SMOG CHECK ON A 2000 AND NEWER VEHICLE CAN BE PERFORMED IN AS LITTLE AS 10-15 MINUTES WHEREAS, A BRAKE AND LAMP RETEST WILL CONSUME HOURS. SO SHOPS PERFORMING THE BRAKE AND LAMP INSPECTION TYPICALLY DON’T OFFER FREE RETESTING.

VEHICLES FAILING THE INSPECTION ARE GENERALLY EXPECTED TO PAY THE COMPLETE INSPECTION FEE AGAIN UNLESS REPAIRS ARE CARRIED OUT BY THE SHOP THAT CONDUCTED THE INITIAL INSPECTION. EACH SHOP SETS IT’S OWN POLICY. STATE DOES NOT SET INSPECTION PRICES EITHER.

HERE IS A CHECKLIST OF WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A DMV LAMP INSPECTION

HERE IS THE BUREAU OF AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR LAMP INSPECTION PROCEDURES HANDBOOK

https://www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Lamp_Handbook_9.3.15.pdf

THE OFFICIAL CALIFORNIA LAMP INSPECTION REGULATIONS AND PROCEDURES ARE VERY SPECIFIC AND DETAILED IN NATURE. YOUR VEHICLE MUST SCORE 100% PASS TO RECEIVE A CERTIFICATE. EVERYTHING MUST BE WORKING WHEN IT IS SUPPOSED TO OPERATE AND, IN THE MANNER THE MANUFACTURER INTENDED.

AFTER ALL, THESE COMPONENTS WERE ALL DESIGNED TO IMPROVE THE SAFETY OF THE VEHICLE. SO, IF THE HEADLAMPS ON YOUR VEHICLE ARE NOT OPERATING AT THE SAME LEVEL OF BRIGHTNESS THE ENGINEERS DESIGNED, SAFETY IS COMPROMISED.

THE SAME APPLIES TO THE OPERATION OF THE SIGNAL LIGHTS, CLEARANCE LIGHTS,LICENSE PLATE AND BRAKE LIGHTS. FURTHERMORE, THE HEADLIGHTS MUST BE AIMED PROPERLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION RULES WHICH DIFFER FROM VEHICLE TO VEHICLE.

HEADLAMP “AIMING” DIFFERS FROM DRIVER SIDE TO PASSENGER SIDE. TYPICALLY, THE PASSENGER SIDE HEADLIGHT BULBS ARE AIMED TOWARDS THE AREA IN FRONT OF, AND TO THE SIDE OF THE VEHICLE. AND, THE PASSENGER SIDE BEAM IS DIRECTED LOWER THAN THE DRIVER’S SIDE HEADLIGHT BEAMS ARE. THE HEADLIGHT AIMING SYSTEMS IN OLDER VEHICLES ARE STATIONARY ONCE AIMED.  IMAGINE HOW MUCH MORE COMPLEX THE MECHANISMS THAT CONTROL MODERN, “ROAD FOLLOWING” HEADLIGHT SYSTEMS ARE.

TO READ THE STATE HANDBOOK ABOUT CALIFORNIA DMV LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION FOR “SALVAGE VEHICLES” CLICK LINK BELOW

https://www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Lamp_Handbook_9.3.15.pdf

DURING A LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION, THE TECHNICIAN WILL DETERMINE IF ANY DEFECT EXISTS IN THE VEHICLES’ INTERIOR OR EXTERNAL LIGHTING SYSTEMS. BOTH VISUAL AND FUNCTIONAL TESTING IS REQUIRED.EVERY LIGHT MUST FUNCTION PROPERLY.

THIS INCLUDES AN OVERALL VISUAL INSPECTION TO EVALUATE THE LIGHTING SYSTEM AS ORIGINALLY INSTALLED BY THE MANUFACTURER. AFTERWARDS, ANY  AFTERMARKET LIGHTING COMPONENTS INSTALLED AT A LATER TIME, WILL BE EVALUATED.

THE VISUAL COMPONENT OF THE LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION PROCEDURE INCLUDES, AS ONE ELEMENT, DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT THE LIGHTS THEMSELVES HAVE ANY DEFECTS WHICH WOULD RENDER THEM INEFFECTIVE, FOR EXAMPLE: 

ARE THE BULBS INSTALLED THE CORRECT TYPE AS SPECIFIED BY THE VEHICLE MANUFACTURER?

ARE THEY AS BRIGHT AS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE?

 (THIS INFORMATION IS FOUND IN THE OWNER’S MANUAL OR ONLINE)

KEEP IN MIND THAT ALL LIGHTING COMPONENTS, WHETHER ORIGINAL TO THE VEHICLE OR AFTERMARKET, MUST BE INSTALLED IN ACCORDANCE WITH DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (D.O.T.) REGULATIONS. 

ITEMS OF CONCERN DURING THE VISUAL INSPECTION INCLUDE 1) WHETHER OR NOT ANY DAMAGE TO THE LIGHTING SYSTEM IS OBSERVED SUCH AS BODY DAMAGE THAT INTERFERES WITH THE AIM OF THE HEADLIGHTS 2) CRACKED TURN SIGNAL LENSES (COLORED TAPE COVERING A LENS IS A  NO-NO)  3) CLOUDY HEADLIGHT LENSES  4) AFTERMARKET COMPONENTS, SUCH AS HIGH OR LOW MOUNTED FOG LAMPS, ARE POSITIONED ACCORDING TO D.O.T. REGULATIONS.

AFTER THE VISUAL INSPECTION IS COMPLETED, THE TECHNICIAN WILL CONDUCT A FUNCTIONAL INSPECTION, UTILIZING ESPECIALLY DESIGNED MEASURING DEVICES TO CHECK THE AIM OF THE HEADLIGHT BEAMS ON THE ROAD AND INSURE THAT THE MANUFACTURERS’ SPECIFICATIONS REGARDING THE LIGHTING SYSTEM ARE MET AND THAT NO OTHER DEFECT OR HAZARDS EXIST WHICH WOULD CAUSE THE LIGHTING SYSTEM TO NOT OPERATE AS THE VEHICLE MANUFACTURER INTENDED.

THIS COMPLETE INSPECTION IS EXTREMELY THOROUGH. THE BUREAU OF AUTOMOTIVE ENFORCEMENT BRANCH IS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR STATIONS WHICH FAIL TO PROPERLY INSPECT VEHICLES AND HAVE THE ABILITY TO SANCTION BOTH STATIONS AND LICENSED TECHNICIANS.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR FAQ PAGE.

PRIOR TO BRINGING THE VEHICLE TO THE INSPECTION STATION, IT WOULD BE WISE TO PERFORM A SELF-INSPECTION TO BE SURE THAT THE HEADLIGHTS, CORNER LIGHTS, FENDER LIGHTS, STOP LAMPS, TAIL LAMPS, SIGNALS AND LICENSE PLATE LIGHTS ALL FUNCTION PROPERLY. THE VAST MAJORITY OF INSPECTION STATIONS DO NOT OFFER A “DON’T PASS, DON’T PAY” POLICY OR A NO COST PRE-TEST UNLESS THEY GET PAID TO FIX THE DEFECTS.

HERE IS WHAT THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA BUREAU OF AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR SAYS MUST BE CHECKED AND IN 100% PERFECT CONDITION IN ORDER TO RECEIVE A LAMP CERTIFICATE:
“Be sure that the vehicle is equipped with all required lighting devices (such as headlamps, tail-lamps, stop-lamps, reflectors, license plate lamps, turn signals, backup lamps, etc.) in accordance with the Vehicle Code for the model year of the vehicle. Be sure that all devices are operating properly, are installed at the proper angle and height, and are correctly aimed, as applicable. Refer to the lamp mounting chart on page 15.
(1) Turn signal lamps visible to approaching or following drivers shall flash in unison, except that a turn signal consisting of two or more units mounted horizontally may flash in sequence from inboard to outboard. The lamps may be either extinguished simultaneously or lighted simultaneously. Turn signal
lamps shall flash at a rate of 60 to 120 flashes per minute.
b. Verify that the headlights are correct for the vehicle being inspected. For example, some vehicles have two headlights while others may have four. Headlight types will vary from one vehicle to another. Some will have the 7″ sealed beams, 5″ sealed beams, or rectangular sealed beams, while others are equipped with halogen sealed beams or bulbs, xenon, super plasma, or high intensity discharge bulbs. Ensure that
sealed beams and/or bulbs are D.O.T. approved. Two 7″ sealed beams comprise a complete headlamp system, while four 5″ sealed beams are needed to have a complete system. A vehicle with one dual-beam 5″ lamp on each side has only half of the required high beam system. c. Headlamps shall be mounted as
specified in FMVSS 108 and as follows: (1) Spacing. Headlamp units installed after November 15, 1975, shall not be closer to the center-line of the vehicle than 12 inches (30 cm), measured from the center of the lens, except on motorcycles and motorized bicycles. d. Inspect add-on or aftermarket reflectors
and auxiliary or driving lamps. Such lamps are often mounted in ways that are in conflict with the Vehicle Code. When you inspect a specially constructed or reconstructed vehicle, motor home, or
trailer, be sure that the auxiliary lamps (such as clearance side markers) are mounted parallel to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle to ensure proper light distribution. If you have questions about abnormal installations, consult the California Vehicle Code, California Code of Regulations, Title 13 and Title 16, or
contact your local Bureau of Automotive Repair office. Information is also available on the Internet at the following web sites: Title 13, California Code of Regulations, www.oal.ca.gov/ Title 16, California Code of Regulations, www.oal.ca.gov/ California Vehicle Code, www.leginfo.ca.gov/”

FURTHERMORE, THE OUTSIDE LENSES CANNOT BE CRACKED OR SUBSTANTIALLY DIS COLORED, AND THE BULBS MUST BE OF THE CORRECT WATTAGE, ETC.

ALL HEADLAMP AIMING HARDWARE MUST BE PRESENT AN FUNCTIONAL ALONG WITH MANY OTHER COMPLEX DETAILS SPELLED OUT IN THIS ARTICLE.

 GENERALLY SPEAKING, YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THE INSPECTION PASS OR FAIL.

SHOP OWNERS REMARK HOW LITTLE THE POTENTIAL CUSTOMER ACTUALLY KNOWS ABOUT HOW IN DEPTH THE PROCEDURES ARE WHEN REQUESTING THE INSPECTION. AND SEEMINGLY, COST OF THE INSPECTION IS THE OVERRIDING FACTOR IN THE SHOP SELECTION MAKING PROCESS.

EXACTLY WHO DETERMINES THE COST OF A BRAKE AND LAMP-LIGHT INSPECTION? THE OPERATOR OF THE STATION DOES. THE ONLY COST  DICTATED BY THE STATE IS THE COST OF THE CERTIFICATES WHICH IS $3.50 A PIECE FOR A TOTAL OF $7.00.WHILE THE COST TO CONDUCT THE INSPECTION SHOULD BE A PART OF THE PROCESS, PRICE ALONE SHOULD NOT BE THE ONLY FACTOR.

WE ADVISE THAT YOU SHOULD APPROACH THE STATION SELECTION PROCESS IN THIS WAY.

NAVIGATE TO THE FAST ZIP CODE MAP PAGE AND INPUT ANY ZIP CODE NEAR YOU. FROM THE RESULTING LIST, SELECT A COUPLE OF STATIONS AND CALL THEM UP. ASK THEM ABOUT THE COST FOR THE INSPECTION, HOW LONG THEY WILL NEED THE VEHICLE, AND THEIR RETEST POLICY. YOU MIGHT ALSO NAVIGATE TO THEIR DETAILS PAGE (CLICK THE MAGNIFYING GLASS ICON) AND SEE IF THEY OFFER TO ACCEPT THE DISCOUNT COUPON FROM BRAKEANDLAMPINSPECTION.COM OR JUST ASK THEM WHEN YOU CALL.

BE AWARE THAT  IF YOU INFORM THE SHOP THAT YOU FEEL THEIR ESTIMATE TO PERFORM REPAIRS IS EXCESSIVE AND, THAT IT IS YOUR INTENTION TO TAKE YOUR VEHICLE ELSEWHERE FOR THE REQUIRED REPAIRS, YOU WILL NO DOUBT BE TOLD THAT YOUR VEHICLE WILL REQUIRE AN ENTIRE RE-INSPECTION AT FULL COST WHEN YOU RETURN.

AVOID THIS ANNOYANCE BY CHECKING ALL LIGHTING IN ADVANCE.

DISCUSS THEIR RETEST POLICY WITH THE STATION AHEAD OF TIME AND PERHAPS ENLIST YOUR REGULAR MECHANIC TO CHECK THE CONDITION OF BOTH YOUR BRAKE AND LIGHTING SYSTEMS BEFORE YOU GO FOR THE INSPECTION. AND IT MIGHT BE ADVISABLE TO TAKE THE INFORMATION CONCERNING THE PROCEDURE THAT WILL BE USED DURING THE INSPECTIONS AND GO OVER IT WITH YOUR MECHANIC, POINT BY POINT.

THE RULES THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA ENFORCES ARE VERY STRICT, AND A VERY PICKY INSPECTOR MAY FIND AN OVERLOOKED ISSUE. ALSO, BECAUSE THE RULES GOVERNING THE METHODOLOGY USED IN THE INSPECTION PROCESS ARE OPEN TO SOME INTERPRETATION, IF YOU FEEL THE SHOP HAS FAILED YOUR VEHICLE UNFAIRLY, YOU MAY WISH TO FIRST TALK IT OVER WITH THE SHOP AND FAILING THAT APPROACH, YOUR LOCAL BUREAU OF AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR FIELD OFFICE FOR ADVICE. YOU CAN FIND THEIR CONTACT INFO AT WWW.SMOGCHECK.CA.GOV

COPYRIGHT © 2009-2017  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS SITE CONTAINS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND YOU MAY NOT DUPLICATE ANY PART OF THIS SITE WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION.