Now offering Detailing Services at all locations or at your home! Learn More

4 Common Reasons Cars Fail the Annual Safety Inspection

Annual vehicle registration renewal can sneak up on drivers. When the DMV notice arrives in the mail, you may worry that your vehicle will fail its safety inspection. Thankfully, these inspections are easy to pass—especially with the right help on your side. Our local mechanics are here to help with the most common causes of safety inspection failure (and their solutions). 

1. Burnt Out Bulbs

As many manufacturers switch to LED bulbs, burnt-out vehicle lighting is becoming less common. However, this is still a top driver of car inspection failure. Why? Lighting encompasses several inspection checkpoints. To pass your NC inspection, you will need to ensure that all of your lights are working, including:

Most commonly, these issues are caused by a burnt-out bulb. Traditional incandescent lights will require a simple replacement service. However, you might need more advanced mechanic support if an LED light burns out. 

2. Tire Tread Wear

While they can seem more relevant to function than safety, your tire tread supports your braking and handling efforts. Drivers struggle to slow down, stop, and manage their vehicles without the tire tread depth needed to grip the road. Worn-out tires can pose severe safety threats—especially during inclement weather. 

Additionally, certain tire hazards can cause a full blowout, often causing devastating accidents. As such, the safety inspection requires your tires to be within the legal tread limit (2/32 of an inch thick). Your mechanic will also check for any unusual wear and tear, like bumps, bulges, and knots. In any of these cases, you will need tire replacement service to pass your safety inspection. 

3. Worn Out Break Pads

Brakes are perhaps the most well-known safety feature. Unless you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle (which often have regenerative braking systems), your vehicle will require regular brake service to pass your NC safety inspection. Most frequently, worn brake pads are the culprit of inspection failure. Your brake pads must be at least 1/16 of an inch thick to pass. For worn-out brake pads, a simple replacement service will help you pass.

4. Tattered Windshield Wipers

Part of your safety inspection is ensuring your vehicle is ready for inclement weather. Windshield wipers are essential for clearing rain, snow, and other forms of precipitation. This vital safety feature also helps remove any bugs, dirt, pollen, or debris that may impact your vision on the road. As such, they must be in good working order to pass your safety inspection. 

However, your windshield wipers can begin to tatter or become ineffective over time. The rubber blade must flush evenly against your windshield to work correctly. With exposure to the elements, this rubber breaks down and oxidizes, causing degradation. Thankfully, this issue requires a simple wiper blade replacement service to avoid inspection failure.

Other Causes of Inspection Failure

As the name suggests, safety inspections only check your car’s safety features. As such, items like a check engine light or missed oil change will not cause failure. However, there are a few other ways to fail your NC car inspection, including:

  • Extremely discolored headlight lenses—often require headlight restoration service. 
  • Broken or loose mirrors (including both side mirrors and your rearview mirror)
  • Steering system issues
  • DIY window tinting that does not meet the legal requirements
  • Issues with your car horn—including horns that are too quiet or too loud
  • A stolen catalytic converter or other exhaust issues
  • A failed emissions inspection (unless exempt)

You can read our full checklist of everything examined during an annual NC safety inspection here

Safety and Emissions Inspections Near Me: Chapel Hill Tire

When you are due for your inspection, visit the local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire. We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with 11 locations across Durham, Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Our professional mechanics provide safety inspections, emissions inspections, trip checks, and any services you need to pass. We invite you to make an appointment or give us a call to get started today! 

Back to Resources