North Carolina Motorcycle Inspection Requirements

In order to renew annual registration, the State of North Carolina requires a motorcycle safety inspection. While inspections apply to all vehicles, a subset of requirements deal specifically with motorcycles. Annual motorcycle safety inspections cost $13.60 (as of 2016).

Below is a complete list of motorcycle safety inspection requirements, sourced directly from the Safety and Emissions Inspection Regulations Manual (“19A NCAC 03D .0544 Safety Inspection of Motorcycles”).

To ensure you’re prepared for every situation, download our free Prepared Rider Kit, which includes essential information on insurance, motorcycle valuation, and what to do in the event of an accident.

If you’re looking for your nearest North Carolina motorcycle inspection station, click here.

Motorcycle Brakes

A. Motorcycle brakes shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. When applying brakes to moving vehicle, there is insufficient force to stop the vehicle.
  2. Brakes are worn in such a manner that there is an uneven braking force.
  3. There is an audible or visual indication that the brake lining is worn to the extent it is no longer serviceable.
  4. There is less than one-third reserve in either footbrake or handbrake total possible travel when the brakes are fully applied.
  5. Reservoirs of braking cylinders are not full.
  6. There is a visible leakage of fluid from any brake line or brake component.
  7. Handbrake cables are frayed, broken, or frozen or linkage is defective.

Motorcycle Headlamps

B. Motorcycle headlamps shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. Headlamp does not operate properly.
  2. There are more than two headlamps connected on a single switch.
  3. Headlamp is cracked or has holes which allow entry of water.
  4. There is standing water in the headlamp.
  5. Headlamp is out of proper aim.

Motorcycle Rear Lamps

C. Motorcycle rear lamps shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. They do not operate.
  2. Light is a color other than red.
  3. Light is cracked or broken and allows entry of water.
  4. There is standing water in the lens.
  5. Lamp is not securely mounted.
  6. Wiring is broken or frayed.

Motorcycle Stop Lamp

D. A motorcycle stop lamp shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. Lamp does not operate when brakes are applied.
  2. Light is a color other than red or amber.
  3. Light is cracked or broken or allows entry of water.
  4. There is standing water in the lens.
  5. Lamp is not securely mounted.
  6. Wiring is broken or frayed.

Motorcycle License Plate

E. A motorcycle license plate light shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. Light does not operate.
  2. Light does not illuminate the license plate.
  3. Light is a color other than white.

Motorcycle Horn

F. A motorcycle horn shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. The horn does not operate.
  2. The sound emitted is not audible at 200 feet.
  3. The horn is not securely mounted.
  4. The button is mounted so that it can not be easily operated by the driver.

Motorcycle Tires

G. Motorcycle tires shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. There is less than two thirty-seconds of an inch of tread at two or more locations around the circumference of the tire in two adjacent major tread grooves, or if the tread wear indicators are in contact with the roadway at two or more locations around the circumference of the tire
  2. Cords are exposed at any location on the tire.
  3. Sidewall is cut, bulging, damaged or is severely cracked due to dry rotting.

Motorcycle Rear View Mirrors

H. Motorcycle rear view mirrors shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. The mirrors are missing, broken, or cracked.
  2. The mirrors are not securely mounted.
  3. The mirrors will not hold a setting while vehicle is in operation.

Motorcycle Exhaust System

I. A motorcycle exhaust system shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. The motorcycle has no muffler.
  2. The muffler, exhaust or tailpipe have holes, leaking joints, seams, or patches.
  3. The tailpipe end is pinched.
  4. The exhaust system is equipped with a muffler cut out or bypass.
  5. The muffler baffles have been removed or damaged to create a straight pipe.

Motorcycle Steering Mechanism

J. A motorcycle steering mechanism shall fail safety inspection if:

  1. Front shocks are sagging or broken.
  2. Front end assembly is bent or there are damaged or twisted bolts.
  3. Front end nuts, bolts, or rivets are loose or missing.

Exemptions from Standard Vehicle Inspections

Lights (19A NCAC 03D .0533)

A. Headlights shall conform to the requirements of G.S. 20-129(b) and (c). Headlights shall not be approved if:

  1. There are not at least two headlamps (at least four on dual headlamp systems which require four units) on all self-propelled vehicles except that motorcycles and motor driven cycles need only one.

Directional Signals (19A NCAC 03D .0537)

A. G.S. 20-125.1 requires all vehicles except motorcycles beginning with the 1954 models to be equipped with turn signals.