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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 19. Public Safety
Agency 30. Department of State Police
Chapter 70. Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Regulations

19VAC30-70-80. Service brakes.

A. The inspector, as a minimum, must drive all vehicles into the inspection lane and test both service and parking brakes.

B. A minimum of two wheels, one front and one rear, must be inspected on each passenger and multipurpose vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or less at the time of inspection, except those listed in subdivisions 1, 2, and 3 of this subsection.

NOTE: If the vehicle is equipped with wheels that do not allow visual access to the braking system, the inspected wheels shall be removed.

NOTE: If the vehicle is equipped with drum brakes, the wheel and drum shall be removed for inspection.

1. Motorcycles.

2. A new model vehicle is defined as a vehicle that has not been titled or leased and is less than one year old, measured from October 1 as of each year; if such motor vehicle does not have a model year, such measurement shall be made from the date of manufacture.

3. Trucks with floating axles that require seal replacement upon removal of rear wheels. The inspection receipt (approval and rejection) shall be marked to reflect which wheels were pulled.

Warning: If wheels are removed to inspect brakes, lug nuts must be torqued to the manufacturer's specifications to prevent damage to disc rotors. The use of an impact wrench may exceed the manufacturer's specifications and damage disc rotors.

C. If any braking problem is detected, the inspector may test drive or require a test drive of the vehicle.

D. Inspect for and reject if:

1. Vehicle is not equipped with brakes or any brake has been disconnected, rendered inoperative, or improperly installed. Trailers having an actual gross weight of less than 3,000 pounds are not required to be equipped with brakes; however, if brakes are installed, these vehicles must be inspected.

Brake System Failure Indicator Lamp

2. Passenger vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1968, are not equipped with a red brake failure warning lamp or warning lamp does not light with parking brake applied when ignition key is turned to the start position, except for anti-lock system. The red brake failure warning lamp should light when the ignition key is turned to the start position; on some imports it may be checked when the emergency brake is applied or other factory installed test button. (DO NOT reject if only the amber ABS/anti-lock brake lamp is on.) With the engine running and parking brake released, the red brake failure warning lamp should go off, except for vehicles equipped with anti-lock system. If so, apply service brake for 10 seconds and if the red brake failure warning lamp lights again the system is defective. Also, if the warning lamp light does not come on when there is a leak or the warning lamp light is not functioning properly, the system is defective and shall be rejected. NOTE: This subdivision does not apply to vehicles registered as street rods nor does it imply that the red brake failure warning lamp needs to light when the emergency brake is set. There are many vehicles that are not factory equipped with an emergency brake indicator light.

Note: Vehicles equipped with a brake pad wear indicator warning light shall not constitute an automatic rejection for the vehicle submitted for a safety inspection. Each vehicle manufacturer has determined an appropriate level to activate the brake pad wear indicator warning light; therefore, it shall be the responsibility of the inspector to confirm whether or not the brake pads have exceeded the established tolerance of 2/32 of an inch.

Brake Linings and Disc Pads

3. Bonded, molded, or riveted linings or disc pads are worn to less than 2/32 of an inch in thickness at any point (not to include manufactured slots) or over the rivet heads.

4. Wire in wire-backed lining is visible in friction surface.

5. Snap-on brake linings are loose.

6. Any lining is broken or cracked so that the lining or parts of the lining are not firmly attached to the shoe or has cracks on the friction surface extending to the open edge.

7. Grease or other contamination is present on the linings, drums, or rotors.

8. Rivets in riveted linings are loose or missing.

9. Any lining or pad is misaligned or does not make full contact with the drum or rotor, with the exception of minor scoring caused by debris, provided it does not affect braking efficiency.

10. Any foreign material or debris caught between a drum or rotor and the brake pad.

Brake Drums and Discs

NOTE: The inspector shall ensure that the minimum measurements in subdivision D 3 of this section are obtained.

11. Brake drums or brake discs (rotors) are worn or scored to the extent that their machining would result in a failure to meet manufacturer's specifications. Use the specification stamped on the rotor or drum if available.

12. Brake drums or brake discs (rotors) are scored to the extent that the braking surface is reduced to the point that the braking efficiency is adversely affected. This does not apply to minor scoring caused by debris.

NOTE: A number of vehicles on the market are equipped with a lock nut to hold the rear brake drum in place. Manufacturers recommend replacement of these lock nuts after each removal to prevent failure of the component. If the customer is advised up front, then the wholesale cost of the replacement nut may be charged to the customer.

NOTE: The proper method to remove the rear brake assembly on the 2000 Ford Focus is to remove the four bolts from the opposite side of the assembly. Removal otherwise may damage the outside grease cap and incur a cost to replace.

13. Brake drums or discs have any external crack or cracks more than one half the width of the friction surface of the drum or disc. NOTE: Do not confuse short hairline heat cracks with flexural cracks.

Mechanical Linkage

14. Cables are frayed or frozen.

15. Mechanical parts missing, broken, badly worn, or misaligned.

E. Hydraulic.

NOTE: Some motor vehicles, beginning with 1976 models, have a hydraulic power system that serves both the power-assisted brakes and power-assisted steering system. Some vehicles, beginning with 1985 models, have an integrated hydraulic actuation and anti-lock brake unit using only brake fluid.

1. Brake hydraulic system. Inspector should check the brake hydraulic system in the following manner: test vehicle in a standing position; apply moderate pressure to the brake pedal for 10 seconds. Brake pedal height must be maintained. On vehicles equipped with power-assisted systems, the engine should be running.

2. Hydraulic system operation. Stop engine, then depress brake pedal several times to eliminate all pressure. Depress pedal with a light foot-force (30 pounds). While maintaining this force on the pedal, start engine and observe if pedal moves slightly when engine starts.

Reject vehicle if pedal does not move slightly as engine is started while force is on brake pedal.

3. Condition of hydraulic booster power brake system. Inspect system for fluid level and leaks.

Reject vehicle if there is insufficient fluid in the reservoir; if there are broken, kinked, or restricted fluid lines or hoses; if there is any leakage of fluid at the pump, steering gear or brake booster, or any of the lines or hoses in the system; or if belts are frayed, cracked, or excessively worn.

4. Integrated hydraulic booster/anti-lock system operation. With the ignition key in the off position, depress brake pedal a minimum of 25 times to deplete all residual stored pressure in the accumulator. Depress pedal with a light foot-force (25 pounds). Place ignition key in the on position and allow 60 seconds for the brake warning light to go out and the electric pump to shut off.

Reject vehicle if the brake pedal does not move down slightly as the pump builds pressure or if the brake and anti-lock warning lights remain on longer than 60 seconds.

NOTE: The inspection of the ABS light is only for an integrated system that is an earlier system. The newer system that has the nonintegrated systems does not need to be checked. If the ABS system malfunctions on the newer system, the brake systems are still functional.

5. Condition of integrated hydraulic booster/anti-lock system with electronic pump. With the system fully charged, inspect system for fluid level and leaks.

Reject vehicle if there is insufficient fluid in the reservoir; if there are broken, kinked, or restricted fluid lines or hoses; or if there is any leakage of fluid at the pump or brake booster, or any of the lines or hoses in the system.

6. Vacuum system operation. Stop engine then depress brake pedal several times to eliminate all vacuum in the system. Depress pedal with a light foot-force (25 pounds). While maintaining this force on the pedal, start engine and observe if pedal moves down slightly when engine starts.

Reject vehicle if pedal does not move down slightly as engine is started while force is on the brake pedal. In full vacuum-equipped vehicles, there is insufficient vacuum reserve for one full service brake application after engine is stopped.

7. Condition of vacuum booster power brake system. Reject vehicle if there are collapsed, cracked, broken, badly chafed, or improperly supported hoses and tubes, loose or broken hose clamps.

F. Inspect for and reject if:

General Specifications - Hydraulic Brakes

1. There is any leakage in the master cylinder, wheel cylinders, or brake calipers. When checking for leakage in rear wheel cylinders, do not disturb the dust boot.

NOTE: Do not reject for the common dust ball formed on wheel cylinders or for wetness that may have spread to the backing plate unless it has contaminated the linings or drums as specified in subdivision D 8 of this section. Consumers should be advised of this wear so that they will be aware that repair may be needed before their next inspection. This may not warrant an immediate repair considering the dual valve master cylinder.

2. Fluid level in master cylinder is below the proper level for the particular vehicle.

3. There is any evidence of a caliper sticking or binding.

Electric Brake System

4. Trailers show an amperage value more than 20% above or 30% below the brake manufacturer's maximum current rating for each brake.

5. Amp meter shows no reading or indicator is not steady on application and release of brake controller.

6. Any terminal connections are loose or dirty; wires are broken, frayed, or unsupported; any single conductor nonstranded wires below the size recommended by the brake manufacturers are installed.

7. Electrical trailer brakes do not apply automatically when the breakaway safety switch is operated.

8. Breakaway braking devices are missing or inoperative; cable is frayed or broken.

General Specifications

9. Absence of braking action on any wheel required to have brakes.

10. There is any leakage in any hydraulic, air, or vacuum lines; hoses have any cracks, crimps, or restrictions or are abraded, exposing inner fabric; tubing or connections leak or are crimped, restricted, cracked, or broken; or any valves leak or are inoperative.

a. Reject the vehicle if the brake hoses or tubing are stretched or extended and do not allow for suspension movement.

b. Brake tubing and hoses must be:

(1) Long and flexible enough to accommodate without damage all normal motions of the parts to which they are attached;

(2) Secured against chaffing, kinking, or other mechanical damage; and

(3) Installed in a manner that prevents them from contacting the vehicle's exhaust system or any other source of high temperatures.

11. Any hydraulic brake tubing has been repaired using a compression fitting.

12. Brakes are not equalized so as to stop the vehicle on a straight line.

13. There is less than 1/5 reserve in actuator travel of the service brake when fully applied on all hydraulic, mechanical, or power-assisted hydraulic braking systems.

14. When tested on dry, hard, approximately level road free from loose material, at a speed of 20 miles per hour without leaving a 12-foot wide lane, results in excess of the following distances are obtained:

(When in doubt about a vehicle's stopping ability, the inspector shall conduct a road test.)

a. Any motor vehicle (except motorcycles, trucks, and tractor-trucks with semitrailers attached) four wheel brakes - 25 feet.

b. Any motor vehicle (except motorcycles, trucks, and tractor-trucks with semitrailers attached) two wheel brakes - 45 feet.

c. All combinations of vehicles - 40 feet.

Statutory Authority

§ 46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 8, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 12, Issue 21, eff. August 7, 1996; Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012; Volume 32, Issue 24, eff. October 3, 2016; Volume 35, Issue 25, eff. September 1, 2019; Volume 36, Issue 25, eff. September 4, 2020; Volume 40, Issue 10, eff. February 1, 2024.

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