4 Steps To Check Lighting Issues On Salvage Vehicles

16 August 2021
 Categories: , Blog


If you're retitling a salvage vehicle in California, one of the final steps you'll face is a lamp and brake inspection. Although you can try again if you fail this inspection, you may be subject to reinspection fees. Additionally, you'll have to pay for the service a second time if you wait more than 90 days from your initial inspection.

The best way to avoid repair and reinspection costs is to ensure your vehicle's lighting functions properly the first time. Follow these four steps to check that your vehicle's lighting meets all necessary regulatory standards before you show up to receive your certificate.

1. Physical Examination

Begin by checking the physical state of your headlights and lenses. Any defects in your lights can cause you to fail the inspection, so don't assume that minor problems are okay. In general, inspectors will be looking for cracks or chips in your lenses. The assessment includes all of your vehicle's lamps, so inspect your headlights, turn signals, brake lights, tail lights, reverse lights, and fog lights.

When examining your headlights, check if they have adjuster pads. The pads are small, raised structures used with headlight equipment. If present, they must be intact and undamaged.

2. Operation Check

You will fail your inspection if any of your lights are not operating correctly. Don't assume your lights are functioning just because the indicator turns on and there are no warning lights on your dash. Instead, have a helper walk around the car and ensure your vehicle's lamps illuminate as they should. Controls inside the car for the lights must be operational, as well.

3. Aiming and Adjustment

You should check to ensure your headlight aiming equipment works properly and smoothly. Note that you don't need to check for proper aiming and alignment (the inspector will adjust as needed), but rather that your headlight's aiming mechanisms work as they should. If the inspector cannot set your headlights properly, your car will fail its inspection.

4. Check Voltage

If you're comfortable using a multimeter, you can perform one final check to ensure your lamps comply with the California vehicle code. With the engine on, check the voltage at each light socket. The regulation requires sockets to supply 85% of their design voltage. Since vehicle electrical systems typically operate at 12V, the sockets should provide 10V or more while the engine is running.

Note that you should not attempt to check the voltage of HID/xenon lights, and you should never open their assemblies while the battery is in your car. These lights operate at high voltages and can pose a severe safety hazard.

By carefully following these four steps, you should be able to ensure your retitled car meets all necessary regulations for a smooth inspection process.

To learn more about lamp and brake inspections, contact an auto shop like Escondido Auto Tech.