What Does a Motor Vehicle Inspector Do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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A motor vehicle inspector inspects cars, trucks, vans, buses, and other types of motor vehicles based on his employer's requirements and his jurisdiction's vehicle laws. He determines whether the vehicles he inspects meet mechanical guidelines, which usually means they are road worthy and unlikely to cause an accident because of a common mechanical problem. Likewise, a person in this position may perform emissions inspections to check whether the exhaust the vehicles emit represents a health hazard. After performing the required tests, he usually documents whether the vehicle passed or failed and why. He might also provide the vehicle operator with proof that the vehicle passed the inspection or a list of problems that must be fixed before it will pass.

The job of a motor vehicle inspector is to check and document whether a vehicle is fit for the road based on his jurisdiction's and his employer's standards. This often includes checking a vehicle for damage and deterioration that might interfere with its operation or make it more likely to cause an accident. It may also include checking for signs of wear that make the vehicle unsafe. For example, if a vehicle's brakes are worn or damaged, this increases the chance that it will be unable to stop or unable to stop in a reasonable amount of time. As such, it is more likely to cause an accident and unlikely to pass an inspection as-is.


In the course of doing his job, a motor vehicle inspector usually checks many different parts of a car. He may, for example, check for cracks or other damage to the windshield and the other windows, for proper tread on all of the vehicle's tires, and for fuel leaks. An inspector will usually check the brakes as well, and determine whether the headlights, brake lights, turn signals, hazard lights, and windshield wipers work as they should. Often, a person in this job also checks the exhaust system. He might also check for problems with the horn, seat belts, mirrors, shock absorbers, and frame.

It is important to keep in mind that the specific parts of a vehicle a motor vehicle inspector checks may depend on his employer and why he is performing the inspection. If he is inspecting his employer's fleet of trucks, the parts he checks might differ somewhat from those he checks to make sure vehicles that do not belong to his employer meet a jurisdiction's standards for safety and emissions. His employer may set additional or more stringent criteria, for instance.

Often, a motor vehicle inspector must also document the results of his inspection and provide documentation to the vehicle's owner or operator. In some cases, this also includes attaching a sticker to the vehicle to show that it passed inspection. If it failed, he typically provides the owner or operator with a list of changes required to make it inspection ready.


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