Maryland Vehicle State Inspection Explained

Whether you just bought a used car or recently moved to Maryland, you must pass Maryland State Inspection to register the vehicle.

In case you fail the safety inspection, which most used cars do, you have 30 days from the inspection date and up to 1000 miles to get the car reinspected. Get the car fixed as soon as you can and take it back to the shop for re-inspection. 

Failed MD state inspection
Failed MD State Inspection - Items that need to be fixed. 

If you wait over a month or put more than 1000 miles on the car, the vehicle will need to get a complete inspection again. 

If you bought a car without a Safety Inspection,  go to the MVA or any Tag and Title to obtain a 30-day temporary registration. This will allow you to drive the vehicle to an authorized auto repair shop to complete the safety inspection.  

Once you pass Maryland inspection, you need to go back to receive your permanent registration.

Maryland state inspection is one of the most rigorous vehicle inspections in the country.

Maryland Inspection Checklist

This is what a Maryland State Inspection looks like. You can see all the systems that get checked during the state inspection in Maryland. 

In this case, the vehicle failed for: 

Maryland State Inspection

Based on our experience, the safety inspection is an objective test to a degree. The majority of used cars don't pass the inspection on the first try.

Repair shops that perform repairs will quote the owner several hundred dollars worth of repairs to pass the inspection.

We took the 2004 Mercedes-Benz E-Class to two different inspection stations. In both cases, the car failed for different reasons.

The state is trying to fix it by introducing the Maryland Safety Inspection System or MSIS, more on that later.

The safety inspection is only required once when you first move to Maryland or buy the car.

The inspection is performed by authorized auto repair shops throughout the State of Maryland. An authorized auto repair shop can issue vehicle inspection certificates.

Don't confuse Maryland Safety Inspection with Maryland Emission Test. 

Once you register the car, you will receive a letter to take your car for the Emission Inspections at one of the Vehicle Emission Inspection Station (VEIP Stations) two to three months later.

Who is required to obtain a Maryland Vehicle Safety Inspection?

If you are going to register and drive a Maryland car, you must have a recent safety inspection certificate to get permanent registration. 

You can title the car without a safety inspection. You can also get a temporary registration without a safety inspection. 

All of the following require an inspection certificate:

  • Passenger cars;
  • Light trucks and SUV with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less; and
  • Trailers that are 20 feet in length or less, without air brakes. 

Do used cars in Maryland need to be inspected?

If a private seller is selling a used vehicle, they don't have to have it inspected to sell it. If the seller knows the car is in good condition, they may get it inspected to attract more buyers. Licensed Maryland dealers are required to sell used vehicles inspected.

If you are the buyer and purchased a used car without an inspection, you can have any Maryland certified repair shop perform the inspection for you. The inspection cost can range from $65-$120.

Based on our experience, most 6-year-old or older cars need between $150 and $500 to get the vehicle to pass state inspection. That's why it is better to buy a vehicle that is already inspected.

You will not be able to get your permanent registration until you provide a valid inspection certificate.

If you purchase a car without state inspection, you can get a 30-day temporary registration.

If you receive an inspection certificate from the buyer, make sure that:

  • The VIN on the certificate matches the VIN of the car.
  • Inspection has been completed in the last 90 days. Certificates over 90 days are voided.
  • There are no more than 1000 miles on the ODOMETER than the mileage recorded on the inspection report. 

Car Insurance Policy

Before you head over to the MVA to register your car, make sure you have added the new car to your car insurance policy.

You will need to provide a copy of the insurance policy showing the car you are about to register. A printed copy is sufficient.

Buying a car from a licensed dealer

If the vehicle is offered for sale by a Maryland Dealer, then the certificate is valid for six (6) months, or the car should not have more than 1,000 miles than the mileage on the Inspection Certificate.

MD Dealers cannot sell cars without a safety inspection.

Do I need to get my car inspected if I just moved to Maryland?

If you just moved to Maryland from another state, you are required to register the car in the state of Maryland. Even if you just had your car inspected in your previous state. 

Complete the safety inspection before you head over to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), or as DMV as it is called in some states. You are required to register the car in Maryland within 60 days of moving to the state. Make sure to bring documents to verify your address as well.

Read this article if you just moved to Maryland, New to Maryland Titling and Registering your vehicle information. 

Where to get Maryland Vehicle State Inspection Certificate?

Most auto repair shops have at least one car mechanic that has gone through the training and been authorized to perform Maryland State Inspection.

Car maintenance facilities that have been authorized by the State to complete car inspections should have a sign similar to this. Click Here to find an Authorized Maryland State Inspector.  

What is inspected during the Maryland Safety Inspection?

Maryland State Inspection is one of the most rigorous in the United States. Here are the systems that are inspected for cars and trucks.

  • Steering system
  • Wheel alignment
  • Suspension
  • Brake system
  • Wheels/tires
  • Fuel system
  • Exhaust system
  • Bumpers Fenders
  • Lights
  • Electrical system
  • Mirrors  Glazing (windows)
  • Wipers
  • Hood/catches
  • Door handle latches
  • Floor / Trunk pans
  • Speedometer / odometer
  • Driver seat
  • Safety belts
  • Motor mounts
  • Gear shift indicator
  • Universal and CV (constant velocity) joints
  •  Emissions equipment

Source: Maryland Vehicle Administration

Maryland Safety Inspection System  (MSI)

In 2016, Maryland State Police implemented the Maryland Safety Inspection System.

All the auto repair shops will eventually be required to switch to the new MSIS system. The inspection itself is still the same. The main advantage of the MSIS is that if you inspect the car at one station, it will be stored in the database. Please take it to another mechanic for inspection; they will see why the previous station failed the car.

Once the inspection is completed and submitted as PASS in the MSIS, an inspection certificate will automatically be sent to the MVA.

The new online MD State Inspection Demo is currently available online if you would like to look at it. Car mechanics are required to be trained on the new online MSIS system. Check out the online MSIS here:  New Maryland State Inspection Demo

Here is a picture from the demo of the new online Maryland Safety Inspection System.

What to do if you fail Maryland State Inspection?

If you failed the Maryland State Inspection, don't panic. You are very frustrated at his point. We understand.

Did you know that very few used cars pass the inspection on the first try?

Vehicle safety inspections are a very lucrative source of income for auto repair shops in Maryland.

We are not saying that all car mechanics take advantage of the state inspections, as there are many honest auto mechanics out there.

Be diligent and read some online reviews before you take the car in for inspection. We have seen cars fail for "problems" such as exhaust leaks where the hole was a needle's size.

How about failing for marks on the windshield from the wiper blades.

Can I repair the car myself, or do I need to take it to a repair shop?

All the problems listed on the inspection report need to be addressed. It doesn't matter who fixes them. You can have the car serviced at any mechanic you choose. Here are your options:

  • You can fix all the problems yourself.
  • Have the inspection station fix the problem.
  • Take your car to another mechanic.

Check with the station where you inspect the car if they charge a re-inspection fee. Generally speaking, if the same mechanic performs the repairs, they don't charge a reinspection fee. It is likely that if you go to another auto maintenance facility, the inspection station will charge a reinspection fee.

The mechanic will check only the items that failed the first time. 

Based on our experience, when the car is taken back for reinspection, it is not looked at thoroughly as it was the first time. 

How much does MD State Inspection Cost?

MD State inspection cost varies from $60 to $110. The average MD state inspection is $80. Some shops charge reinspection fees while others don't.

It is up to the shop to charge a reinspection. It doesn't mean that he will do a better job because one mechanic charges more for the inspection.

It is to your advantage to find an inspection station that only does the MD State inspection and doesn't do car repairs.

They tend only to focus on safety problems and not items that are related to maintenance.

Ask the mechanic who is doing the MD state inspection if they charge a reinspection fee if your car fails MD inspection.

It is very common for cars that are over 4 years old to fail for things such as wipers, blades, burned bulbs, wheel bearing, brake pads, or tires.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is window tint allowed in Maryland?

Yes, but the tint should allow at least 35% of the light to go through. In cars, all the windows, including backglass and rear door windows, need to meet the 35% requirement. If you have a van or truck, the back windows can be as dark as you desire. The front driver and passenger windows need to follow the 35% rule requirement. If you have medical conditions, you may be allowed darker tint on the front doors. You will need to provide a doctor's recommendation to the Maryland State Police to get approval.

What are the Maryland MVA hours of operation?

Glen Burnie Headquarters Hours

Monday-Friday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (all services) Saturday:8:30 am to 12:00 pm (Driver's License Services only) Sunday: Closed Address Glen Burnie Headquarters 6601 Ritchie Highway, N.E. Glen Burnie, Maryland 21062

Do I need to get my car emission tested in Maryland?

Yes, you do. After you register your car, two to three months later, you will receive a letter in the mail to take your vehicle in for Vehicle Emission Inspection at a VEIP station. This is what an MD Emission Inspection Notice looks like.

Will I fail Safety Inspection if my check engine is ON?

No, you will not. You will fail the emission test, which you are required to complete 2 to 3 months after you register the car. Check engine light alone will not fail a safety inspection. 

What is inspected on a car during Maryland State Inspection?

You may be wondering as to what is inspected during the Maryland State Inspection. That's a long list, which we have put together, and you can download it below in PDF format. All the items are safety-related, making sure your car is roadworthy. The inspectors will check items related to safety, such as wheel alignment, brake, rotor, steering, and suspension. If you are buying a car, don't rely on the inspection alone. During the inspection, they will check items that aren't related to safety, for example, air conditioner check engine light. The car will pass even if the SRS / Airbag light is on. Have an auto repair shop perform a pre-sale vehicle check.

Do I need to inspect my car each year?

No. Once you register and get the plates, you don't do a safety inspection check on the car again. The emission inspection test is different and is required every two years.

I moved in from another state. Do I still need a Maryland Car Inspection?

You may be thinking I just did the safety check in my state. Well, you need to do a Maryland state inspection as well. You still need to complete and pass the Maryland State Inspection. Sorry!

How long does it take to get my car inspected?

The inspection usually takes between 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

Do I need to pay again for re-inspection if I fix all the problems?

That depends on the auto repair shop that you took the car to for the initial inspection. Some of them will not charge. Most do, typically half an hour work. If they only have to check a couple of obvious items, they may waive the fee if you ask.

Will a car with high miles fail safety inspection?

Not necessarily. Accord to Inspector Steve at, there have been cars with over 200k miles passed the first time. Do I need to do a vehicle safety check to transfer the title to my name? No. If you are only transferring the car and do not plan on driving it on the road, You will not be able to get plates or registration, but you will get the title in your name.

Can I register a Salvage car in Maryland?

Yes. If the car already has a salvage title from another state, you will need to get your inspection certificate at any car repair shop. Assuming they are authorized to perform vehicle safety checks. If the car was just repaired and is getting salvage for the first time, you need to schedule an inspection with the State Police by going.

How long is a Maryland state inspection good for?

Inspection is good for 90 days if you are a private party. Six months when it is in the name of a used car dealer.

How much time do I have to re-inspect my car?

You have 30 days or 1,000 miles. Whichever comes first.  If you go over the miles or 30 days, you need to pay the price for a full inspection again.

Where to report car inspection report problems?

If you are having problems related to the MD safety inspection, contact the Maryland State Police. Here is their contact information: Maryland State Police Automotive Safety Enforcement Division (ASED) 6601 Ritchie Highway, NE Glen Burnie, MD 21062


How to contact Maryland MVA DMV in Glen Burnie?

  • Motor Vehicle Administration 6601 Ritchie Hwy, Glen Burnie, MD 21062 MVA Glen Burnie Contact Phone Number:
MVA Customer Service Center: Out-of-State 1-800-950-1MVA (1682) or 410-768-7000 1-301-729-4550
TTY/Hearing Impaired: 1-301-729-4563




By  YOUCANIC Automotive Experts

Published on: Friday, December 6, 2019.
Updated on: Thursday, December 31, 2020