The Smog Stop
6414 University Ave, San Diego, Ca 92115
Mon-Sat: 07:00 - 17:00

California DMV Brake and Light Inspection

Brake and Lamp Inspection
Brake and Lamp Inspection


The purpose of a brake and light inspection is to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate on any public highway and it does not impede any other motorist’s on the highway which it is operating. There are many reasons a motorist may be seeking a brake and lamp inspection and will attempt to cover each of them in detail. The brake and lamp inspection is actually composed of two different inspections, the brake inspection and the light inspection. So when it comes time to requesting the inspection, you can actually pass one and not the other. A majority of motorists are seeking the brake and lamp inspection because their vehicle has been salvaged with California Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV). In this case you will need to pass both inspections in order to be able to obtain your DMV vehicle registration and clear your salvage vehicle.

Reasons for a Brake and Lamp Inspection

Reviving a Salvage Vehicle

In California, if your vehicle is deemed a total loss by your insurance company your vehicle will have a stop placed on the record by the California DMV. This means that you must complete specific requirements before you can operate your vehicle on any California Public Highway.

Clearance of Enforcement Document

If you have received a citation or ticket from a law enforcement agency, you will required to correct the deficiency at a licensed brake and lamp inspection station. This ticket is better known as a “Fix It Ticket”. Once you have made the correction, you will be required to pay an administrative fee to your local jurisdiction to have the Fix It ticket dismissed.

Brake adjustment

A brake adjustment may be required if the brakes on your vehicle are not performing in accordance with the manufacturer specifications. In this case a licensed brake adjuster will inspect the brakes on your vehicle and make any necessary adjustments to bring your brake back up specification. On most newer vehicles adjustments can not be made, because the vehicles are equipped with disc brakes that are not adjustable. On most late model vehicles the only brake component that is adjustable is the parking brake.

Lamp Adjustment

A lamp adjustment may be required if you feel your headlamps or headlights are not performing optimally. In this case you will need to have a licensed lamp adjuster inspect your vehicle to ensure the proper aim and the intensity of the lamp is correct.

Brake and Lamp Inspection Stations

The State of California in conjunction of the Department of Consumer Affairs(Bureau of Automotive Repair) has developed licensing requirements to ensure their is an adequate number if inspections throughout the State of California. These stations must employ a licensed brake adjuster and lamp adjuster in order to be license by the State of California to perform brake and light inspections. The brake and lamp inspection station must possess all the required tools and equipment to perform the inspections and the licensed adjuster must be in the facility full time on order for the station to legally operate. Additionally, depending on the type of vehicle that requires a brake and lamp inspection, only specific stations may be only to perform adjustments on them. For example, If the GVWR of the vehicle exceeds 10,000lbsĀ  a Class B brake adjuster is the only station they may certify the brakes on that vehicle.

Classes of License

Brake Adjuster

The State of California has 3 different classes of licenses for brake adjuster.

Class A – This class can perform brake adjustments on any vehicle that required a brake adjustment. Additionally, they can inspect all trailers and motorcycles.

Class B – This class can perform brake adjustments on vehicles with a GVWR above 10,000lbs. They can inspect trailers and motorcycles, too. They can not inspect vehicles that have air brakes.

Class C – This class can perform brake inspections on vehicles with a GVWR under 10,000lbs. This class of license covers most vehicles operated in California, as all passenger vehicles fall in to this category. They can inspect motorcycles and trailers, without air brakes.

Lamp Adjuster

There is only one class of license for a lamp adjuster. This class is deemed a Class A license. They can inspect, repair, and adjust lamps on all vehicles, to include motorcycles.