Virginia Motorcycle Inspection Requirements

The State of Virginia requires annual motorcycle inspections to ensure road worthiness and safety. These inspections apply to all vehicles. Annual motorcycle inspections cost $12 (as of 2016). Below is a complete list of motorcycle inspection requirements, sourced directly from the Virginia Legislative Information System.

To ensure you’re prepared for any situation, download our free Prepared Rider Kit, which includes critical information on insurance, motorcycle valuation, and what to do at the scene of an accident.

If you’re looking for your nearest inspection station, find it here.

Motorcycle inspection (19VAC30-70-330)

All motorcycles shall be inspected according to the following sections. In cities, towns, and counties having a motorcycle repair shop or shops appointed as an official inspection station, motorcycle inspections may be performed at these places. In localities where no motorcycle inspection station is located, such inspections shall be made by any official inspection station provided a certified inspector observes a satisfactory brake test and completes the remainder of the inspection according to regulations.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 33, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012.

Motorcycle brakes (19VAC30-70-340)

A. The inspector, if qualified to operate a motorcycle, must drive it into the inspection lane and test the service brakes. If not qualified to operate motorcycles, the inspector must observe the operator operate the brakes. The inspector is required to observe and inspect the braking system on both wheels if so equipped or required to be equipped.

B. Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Any motorcycle is not equipped with a brake, or which has a disconnected brake.
  2. Any motorcycle which was originally equipped with a service brake system on both the front or rear wheel(s) if the service brake system has been altered by removing or disconnecting any of the brake system components from any of the wheels.
  3. Any motorcycle manufactured after July 1, 1974, is not equipped with either a split service brake system or two independently actuated service brake systems which shall act on the front as well as the rear wheel or wheels.
  4. Bonded linings or disc pads are worn to less than 2/32 of an inch in thickness or riveted linings or disc pads are worn to less than 2/32 of an inch over the rivet head(s).
  5. Any lining is broken or cracked so that the lining or parts of the lining are not firmly attached to the shoe or disc pad.
  6. Grease or any other contamination is present on the lining or disc pad.
  7. Rivets in riveted linings or disc pads are loose or missing.
  8. A brake drum or brake disc (rotor) is scored to the extent that it impairs the braking system.
  9. A brake drum or brake disc is worn beyond the manufacturer’s recommended limit. (A brake drum or brake disc shall under no circumstances be re-machined beyond the manufacturer’s specifications.)
  10. Rods are bent, cotter keys or lock nuts are missing, cables frayed or broken or parts misaligned.
  11. When operated at 20 miles per hour on a dry, level, hard surface free from loose material, the brakes will not stop the motorcycle within 30 feet.
  12. Levers (foot and hand) do not have at least 1/3 of their travel as reserve after brakes are fully applied.
  13. Any leaks in master cylinder, wheel cylinders, or any brake hoses or lines.
  14. A motorcycle that is equipped with a front and rear master cylinder, if one or both are not displaying the recommended manufacturer fluid level.
  15. Any line or hose not installed so as to prevent damage or abrasion by contact with the frame or other components. There is any leakage in any hydraulic, air, or vacuum lines; hoses have any cracks, crimps, restrictions, or are abraded exposing fabric; tubing or connections leak, are crimped, restricted, cracked or broken; any valves leak or are inoperative. Reject the vehicle if the brake hoses or tubing are stretched or extended and do not allow for suspension movement. Brake tubing and hoses must:

a. Be long and flexible enough to accommodate without damage all normal motions of the parts to which it is attached;

b. Be secured against chaffing, kinking, or other mechanical damage; and

c. Be installed in a manner that prevents it from contacting the vehicle’s exhaust system or any other source of high temperatures.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 34, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012.

Motorcycle airbag, seat, steering, and suspension (19VAC30-70-350)

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Frame is bent or damaged so as to constitute a hazard in proper operation.
  2. Wheels are out of line to a degree steering and control is affected.
  3. Steering-head bearing is loose, broken, defective or out of adjustment.
  4. Handlebars are loose, bent, broken or damaged in such a manner as to affect proper steering.
  5. Shock absorbers are broken, worn, missing, defective, disconnected or do not function properly.
  6. Any spring in the suspension system is broken or sagging.
  7. If motorcycle seat or seats are not securely fastened.
  8. Any motorcycle designed to carry more than one person is not equipped with a footrest for each passenger.
  9. The battery is not attached to a fixed part of the motorcycle and protected by a removable cover or enclosure if the battery is installed in a location other than the engine compartment. This includes all brackets, hardware, bolts, and bushings used for securely mounting the battery to the motorcycle.

a. Removable covers or enclosures shall be substantial and shall be securely latched or fastened.

b. The battery compartment shall have openings to provide ample battery ventilation and drainage.

c. Whenever the cable to the starting motor passes through a metal compartment, the cable shall be protected against grounding by an acid and waterproof insulating bushing.

d. Whenever a battery and a fuel tank are both placed under the driver’s seat, they shall be partitioned from each other and each compartment shall be provided with an independent cover, ventilation, and drainage.

    1. Air bag and air bag readiness light. Inspect for and reject if:

a. Any defects in the air bag system are noted by the air bag readiness light or otherwise indicated;

b. The air bag has been deployed and has not been replaced (and is not deactivated because of a medical or other exemption and a notice is posted to indicate that it has been deactivated);

c. Any part of the air bag system has been removed from the motorcycle; or

d. If the air bag indicator fails to light or stays on continuously.

NOTE: Checking the air bag readiness light. Turn the ignition key to the on position; the air bag readiness light will indicate normal operation by lighting for six to eight seconds, then turning off.

A system malfunction is indicated by the flashing or continuous illumination of the readiness light or failure of the light to turn on.

NOTE: Any motorcycle not originally manufactured with an air bag readiness light shall not be rejected for not having this item.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 35, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012.

Motorcycle lights: headlamp, rear, signal, warning (19VAC30-70-360)

A. Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Motorcycle is not equipped with at least one motorcycle headlamp.
  2. Any motorcycle headlamp is not of an approved type (SAE-M). A motorcycle may have one or more headlamps. In addition to the headlamp(s), a motorcycle may be equipped with not more than two auxiliary headlamps of a type approved (SAE-C) by the superintendent and identified as “auxiliary front lamps.”
  3. Lens and reflector do not match except in sealed units, or if the lens is cracked, broken or rotated, or if the lens and reflector are not clean or bright.
  4. Any motorcycle lights-headlamp, rear lamp, signal or warning lamp has any wire, unapproved lens or plastic covers, any other materials that are not original equipment or any colored material placed on or in front of lamp or lens.
  5. Lamp is not focused or any filament or bulb fails to burn.
  6. Lamp is not mounted securely or if switch does not operate properly.
  7. The center of the hot spot is set more than four inches up or down from the horizontal centerline or more than four inches to the left or right from the vertical centerline.

NOTE: Motorcycles may be equipped with means of modulating the high beam of their headlights between high and low beam at a rate of 200 to 280 flashes per minute, provided they are equipped with a switch or device that prevents flashing of headlights when headlights are required to be lighted.

NOTE: Inspection is to be performed with lamp on high beam.

NOTE: The use of strobe lights being placed inside the headlamps of police motorcycles is permitted. The strobe light system developed by Harley-Davidson for use in police motorcycle headlamps has been tested and does meet the current standard; therefore, strobe light systems of this type and similar types may be used in police motorcycle headlamp systems.

B. Aiming the headlamp. All headlamps that do not comply with subdivision A 7 of this section shall be aimed straight ahead. (Zero inches up or down and zero inches to the right or left.)

C. Rear lamp.

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. The high beam indicator does not burn when the high beam is on or does not go off when the low beam is on.
  2. Motorcycle is not equipped with a rear lamp of approved type SAE-T-S-P-A).
  3. Lamp is not mounted near rear of vehicle, or is not mounted securely, or if lamp does not make a good electrical connection.
  4. Lenses are not red to the rear and clear or amber to the front or any lens has a piece broken from it. The lens may have one or more cracks provided an off-color light does not project through the crack(s).

NOTE: LED (light emitting diode) lights with a clear lens are acceptable if of an approved type. For those vehicles that are equipped with a multiple LED light (not filament burning bulbs), they will pass inspection if more than 50% of the diode lights are burning.

  1. Filaments in all lamps do not burn when headlamp switch is turned on to any position.
  2. The rear license plate is not illuminated by an approved license plate bulb.

D. Signal device (intention to stop or turn).

  1. Signal devices are not required on motorcycles; however, if installed, they must operate and be inspected.
  2. Signal lamp lenses installed on the front of the motorcycle shall be amber and be located on each side of the vertical centerline of the motorcycle and as far apart as practicable and not closer than nine inches, measured from the optical centerline of the lamps, and to be located on the same level and not less than 20 inches above the ground level. The optical centerline of the lamp shall not be less than four inches from the retaining ring of the headlamp unit.
  3. Signal lamps installed on the rear of the motorcycle shall be red or amber and shall be located on each side of the vertical centerline of the motorcycle as far apart as practicable but not closer than nine inches, measured from the optical centerline of the lens, and shall be located on the same level and not less than 20 inches above the ground level.
  4. Inspect for and reject if:

a. Motorcycle, except an antique vehicle not originally equipped with a stop lamp, is not equipped with at least one stop lamp of an approved type that automatically exhibits a red or amber light to the rear when the brake control foot pedal or hand grip brake control device is activated. (On motorcycles manufactured prior to January 1, 1972, the activation of the front wheel brake control device is not required to activate the stop lamp.)

NOTE: Motorcycles may be equipped with a means of varying the brightness of the vehicle’s brake light for a duration of not more than five seconds upon application of the vehicle’s brakes.

b. The signal lamp is not of an approved type (SAE-D) or does not flash.

c. Lens in brake lamp or signal lamp has a piece broken from it. (Lens in brake lamp or signal lamp may have one or more cracks provided an off-color light does not project through the crack or cracks.)

d. Wiring or electrical connections are defective or any filaments do not burn.

e. Switch is not convenient to the driver and not of an approved type.

f. Signal devices are not installed as provided in subdivisions D 1 and 2 of this section.

E. Warning lights.

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Warning lamps are not of an approved type or have been altered.
  2. Any lighted advertising sign is present.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 36, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 12, Issue 21, eff. August 7, 1996; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012.

Motorcycle mirror (19VAC30-70-370)

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Motorcycle is not equipped with a mirror.
  2. Reflecting surface of mirror is cracked, broken, peeled, pitted, clouded, tarnished, has sharp edges, or reflects more than one image or a distorted image.
  3. Mirror is not mounted securely.
  4. Operator does not have a view of the road 200 feet to the rear.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 37, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008.

Motorcycle horn (19VAC30-70-380)

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Motorcycle is not equipped with a horn in good working order capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions for a distance no less than 200 feet.
  2. Horn is not mounted securely, wiring is defective, control button is not operating properly, or is not installed at a location readily accessible to the operator.

Statutory Authority

§ 46.2-1067, 46.2-1069 and 46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 38, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994.

Motorcycle muffler and exhaust system (19VAC30-70-390)

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Vehicle has no exhaust line or tailpipe if the system is designed for same.
  2. A muffler has been repaired with a jacket, a patch or in any other manner.
  3. Vehicle has installed a muffler cutout or bypass.
  4. Any components of the exhaust system are not properly secured.
  5. Leakage of gases is noted at manifold gaskets, muffler and muffler connections, or at any point in the exhaust line.
  6. Tailpipe opening is pinched or mashed.

NOTE: If a vehicle is inspected that does not have a muffler, the inspector should explain to the customer that although the vehicle will pass inspection without a muffler, it is a violation of state law for the vehicle to be operated on the highway without it.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 39, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012.

Motorcycle tires, wheels, rims (19VAC30-70-400)

Inspect for and reject if:

  1. Any tire has a cut or puncture, not to include a plug or patch that may be used as a manner of repair, or is worn so that the fabric is visible.

NOTE: Plugs/patches shall be in the tread area only. Plugs/patches are not permitted in the side wall of the tire.

  1. Any tire has knots or bulges in any side wall or if there is evidence of a broken belt under the tread or of the tread separating from the fabric.
  2. Any bolts, nuts, lugs or spokes are bent, loose or missing. Rims or wheels are bent, cracked or damaged so as to affect the safe operation of the motorcycle.
  3. Wheel bearings are excessively worn or out of adjustment.
  4. Any motorcycle is equipped with a tire that has a tread depth measuring less than 2/32 of an inch when measured in accordance with the instructions set forth in subdivisions 6, 7, and 8 of 19VAC30-70-130.
  5. Any tire is marked specifically for use other than on the highway such as “For Farm Use Only,” “For Off-Highway Use Only” or “For Mobile Home Use Only.”
  6. Any motorcycle tire has been recut or regrooved.
  7. Directional tires and/or wheels designed and manufactured to go in a certain direction or rotation are not installed in the proper direction of rotation.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 40, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008.

Motorcycle windscreen and glazing (19VAC30-70-410)

Inspect and reject if:

  1. Any windscreen is not of an approved type.
  2. Any windscreen obstructs the driver’s vision.
  3. Any support or installation component interferes with the driver’s vision.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 41, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004.

Motorcycle fuel system (19VAC30-70-420)

Inspect and reject if:

  1. Any part of the fuel system is not securely fastened.
  2. There is fuel leakage at any point in the fuel system.
  3. The fuel tank filler cap is missing.

Statutory Authority

46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 42, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994.