Brake pulsation on a Honda Fit.

Brakes: What we check during the Virginia State Inspection

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We want to make sure that you and your passengers are in safe hands as you travel down the road.

When performing the Virginia State Inspection, we look for a variety of concerns that could impact your safety.

This annual requirement spans components across the vehicle. The brake system is one of the areas that’s checked.

Different brake problems could cause a vehicle to fail the Virginia Safety Inspection.

Virginia State Inspection brake concerns

Here are some safety items that inspectors keep an eye out for:

Low rear brakes on a Mazda CX-5.

Low rear brakes on Mazda CX-5

Brake wear: The brake pads and rotors need to meet certain parameters. Pads must be at least 2/32 of an inch. It’s a good idea to replace them around 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch. Meanwhile, rotor thickness depends on what the manufacturer suggests.


Brake rust: If we see brake rust, it could mean that there’s a brake problem.

Seized brake caliper: We want to make sure that the brake calipers are able to move back and forth correctly.

Twisted brake hoses: Our automotive technicians confirm that the brake hoses aren’t twisted from daily use or previous repairs. 

Brake hose wear: The brake hoses can also become worn or cracked over time.

Brake fluid leaks: A vehicle will fail the Virginia Safety Inspection if brake fluid is leaking from the system. It can be brown, clear, or yellow. You might see it near the wheel well, or a technician could notice it when looking under the car.

Hard brake pedal: Hard brake pedals are another problem we look for. It may be caused by parts going bad, such as the vacuum pump, power steering pump, or brake booster. Cracks can also develop in the vacuum hose and there can be electronic issues on vehicles that use an electro hydraulic brake booster.

Soft brake pedal: We are watchful for soft brake pedals, as well. This problem is sometimes the result of air in the hydraulic brake system, a leak, or the brake pads not seeding correctly.

Toyota Tacoma parking brake.

Toyota Tacoma parking brake

Malfunctioning parking brake: The parking brake must hold when the vehicle is sitting on a slight incline. Electronic parking brakes are checked, too.

Brake light: If the red brake light is on, the vehicle won’t pass the Virginia State Inspection. This issue can be a sign that something is wrong with the parking brake system or brake fluid.

Missing brake parts: Components shouldn’t be missing from the brake system or parking brake.

Other brake problems

If you notice any of the brake problems we mentioned, have it checked out – even if your Virginia State Inspection sticker isn’t about to expire.

There are several possible signs you may notice when you need new brakes.

Brake noises – including squealing and grinding – and brake dust on the wheels are some symptoms to watch for. 

You should also bring your vehicle into an automotive professional if the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) warning light turns on.

A lot of wear on the brake pads and rotors and a vibrating brake pedal can be indicators that brake repair is needed, too.

We can check on any concerns you have about your brake system. Our technicians also perform a variety of brake services, including brake fluid exchanges, brake line replacement, and brake hardware installation.