Brakes and the Virginia Safety Inspection

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Bringing your vehicle in for the Virginia safety inspection is one way you can protect yourself and others.

The brakes of your vehicle have to be working properly in order to pass the yearly requirement.

Problems with brakes

There can’t be a soft brake pedal.

A hard brake pedal or a vehicle having a hard time stopping can be caught during the state inspection, as well.

This can be caused by a problem with the vacuum. Many vehicles now have electric pressure pumps, rather than old components, such as the vacuum brake booster.

Twisted brake hoses is another problem we keep an eye out for.

Brake hoses can become twisted for various reasons. Perhaps someone who was putting a caliper back on turned it one too many times.

The inspectors ensure that nothing is rubbing on or starting to wear through the brake hoses and they haven’t begun to develop excessive cracks.

A vehicle will fail if any active leaks or oil contamination is found.

Other parts we check

Brake pads must be at or above 2/32 inches.

We may start recommending new brakes at 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, but they have to be under 2/32 to fail inspection. At 2/32 of an inch, brakes will technically pass, but they might not within a week or a month, depending on your driving conditions.

Rotors need a certain thickness that’s based on a manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Excessive rust on the rotors is another symptom we look for.

You could have a caliper that is seized, or maybe a piston is pushing in but a caliper isn’t sliding. This means one pad isn’t making contact with the rotor and the wheel only has half of its braking ability. When we see a lot of rust built up on the rotor, it’s a good indication that the brakes aren’t working correctly.

Vehicle safety inspectors are also checking to make sure the parking brake is able to hold on a slight incline.

Some of the vehicles driven today use an electronic parking brake. They don’t even have a handle that you pull up; instead, it’s run by a computer.

There are different ways that the electronic parking brake needs to be tested during the state inspection.

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) light is another component that’s checked. A vehicle can still pass inspection, even if the yellow ABS light is on. However, it will not pass if the red brake light is on, because that could indicate a problem with the parking brake system or fluid.

If it feels like there is a mechanical issue, inspectors can take the car for a test drive.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.