Maryland vehicle safety inspection or not

That brings me to another question if I followed the POs mind. Let’s say I purchase a used car and have it inspected by my mechanic prior to purchase and get a clean bill of health. I drive the car for a few days and it breaks down due to a several mechanical safety problem, i.e. brake lines, that was overlooked during the inspection, maybe even causing a serious accident. Using the POs logic, I could hold the inspector liable for “negligence”?

This is why I am glad the states I have lived in have very specific criteria for state inspections. The mechanics are not Carnac the Magnificent. Yes, rusty brake lines that are visible may be cause for concern. But there are also instances where the visible sections look fine but that hidden section is not so easily seen. I have lots of brake leaks develop under those rubber isolators when the exposed line looked fine. If we hold inspections to such rigorous expectations for thoroughness, two things will happen; inspections will become very expensive due to the intrusiveness of the work and you’ll be replacing a LOT more stuff to pass because if it looks even a little sketchy, they are not going to be willing to take any chance. Personally, I don’t want the person who benefits from finding issues to be the one inspecting it and saying- I see some rust! …far too subjective criteria.

The state test criteria are clear. A brake inspection with explicit fail criteria (visible leaks, pad/rotor/drum thickness etc) and a dynamic test (must stop the car within X distance). Your usual mechanic that performs repairs and maintenance should be informing you of impending issues, not the inspector for the state. It either passes at the time of inspection or it doesn’t and then the onus is on you to maintain your vehicle…

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I just got off the phone with the shop.

The guy said brake lines are allowed be rusty as long as they arent leaking.Then he said that the lines under the vehicle are usually the ones that rust and break. I told him the rusty pitted lines arent under the vehicle they are in the engine bay.
Then he repeated that as long as they aren`t leaking at the time of inspection then they pass.

so, i read this to him, it comes from the maryland state C.O.M.A.R (Codes and laws) for vehicle inspections:
.05 Brakes.
Reject Vehicle If:
(iii) Brake lines are leaking, flattened, restricted, or rusted and pitting is visible,

He put me on hold for about 5 minutes,when he came back he asked for the VIN,my name and address and phone number, the name of the person i bought the vehicle from.
He said he would call right back, a few minutes later he called back.
I offered to E-Mail him pictures of the flaking rust and large pits on the brake lines,he said that wasnt neccessary, he said he will send a tow truck to get the vehicle and he will repair the lines for no charge.I didnt even have to ask him to do that he offered to.

I told him ok, although im not really sure i want them working on my vehicle,but it will save me from having to do it so,well see what happens.

I did take a lot of close up pictures of the rusted brake lines so that he doesnt try to pull something sneaky like repair the lines and them tell me I have to pay because they werent as bad as I said they were.once they replace the lines and throw the old ones away i have no proof how bad they were.

If it sounds like i dont trust the guy its because i don`t they already did a crappy job of inspecting it.

I looked on the web, and found this site where you can scroll down and find how to file a complaint with the State Motor Vehicle Administration about the seller. The seller is really the logical target here, and the State does regulate and has enforcement power over this business. If you just let the seller off the hook, because there’s not much chance you’ll get anything out of it, you are giving him a free pass to screw the next few people.

Do us all a favor and file a complaint with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.


The offer to repair the lines sounds good. My concern is that the shop is 2.5 hours away so that is a serious tow charge even with the shops own service. I would assume you will have to go pick it up and what after they get it they say because you tried to do repair work yourself they will have to redo it and charge you.

I think I would take Wentwest’s advice and just have it repaired properly by a place you actually trust and just move on.

Sounds like your beef should be with the seller, not the inspection station.

ON THE DAY the car was inspected, things looked like they were in order.

A safety inspection IS NOT a pre-purchase inspection.

I’m a retired commercial pilot who in retirement, has sold a few airplanes. The FAA holds the OWNER OR OPERATOR responsible for an airworthy condition. This means that a plane can come out of a shop with a fresh annual or 100 hour or “event” inspection, fall out of the sky, and unless the A&P or IA screwed up, the owner is on the hook! If it takes TEN inspections to verify that a plane is safe then that’s what you do.

Here is another action you should take. Check with the county the seller is located in and see if he is required to have a business license if he sells more than x number of cars per year. Its 5 where I live.

If he sells more than the limit and does not have a business license, he could face a fine and scrutiny in the future.


Judging from the OP’s last post , it seems as though the PO did have the truck inspected at the shop that is offering to repair the lines at no charge . It seems as though the shop is accepting responsibility for a shoddy inspection . I don’t see what everyone’s problem is with the PO .


if the shop didn`t notice the rusted lines why would the seller have noticed them.He was probably assuming that the shop did a good job of inspecting it so he had no reason to go back and recheck the shops work.

The seller does sell a lot of cars I see him on craigslist a lot and its probably illegal for him to be doing that out of his house, also the title wasnt in his name it was in the name of the person he bought the vehicle from.

here`s some pictures that i took.

This is the normal rust that you would expect to see on brake lines:

but this is too much rust: one of these lines broke just above where they go into that plastic retainer clip.

too much rust: you can actually see the pits and craters in the lower brake line.

In this picture you can see a jagged piece of rust hanging down from the brake line in the center of the picture:

How did these brake lines pass inspection just 3 months ago.

better question:

How did these brake lines pass YOUR pre-purchase inspection 3 months ago?

It seems like you have a decent amount of mechanical skill to you, but it also seems as if the only inspection done of this vehicle was by this other shop. Why would you take anyone else’s word for it, and not take a peek for your-self?

I agree with those that say to decide if this vehicle is worth the money and fix it yourself. You bought a vehicle, basically blind, and now want others to cover your mistake.

and also, report this inspection place- because this vehicle should not have passed inspection- theirs, or yours.


I didn`t buy it blind I bought a vehicle that was inspected by a state liscence "expert"vehicle safety inspector. why would i take a state liscence “expert” inspectors word for it? because he suppose to be the “expert” and know more than i do and suppose to do a more complete job than i could do just by looking at the vehicle…

nobody can be a master of all trades which is why we pay “experts” to do things for us. The reason why I only by inspected vehicles is so that I dont have to do it,thats what I pay them for.

clearly I did nothing wrong,if the inspector had done his job properly I wouldn`t be having a problem.

I would not trust a state inspection to find anything but stuff that’s already broken. Even though it’s in the regs, I bet LOTS of brake lines are corroded to some extent and pass inspection. You’re barking up the wrong tree…

Yeah I dunno but it seems the state is the ultimate customer of the state inspections, is it not? It is to benefit and comply with the state laws, no? Treating a state inspection as a pre-purchase inspection is a big mistake but we don’t do them in Minnesota. Used to have an emissions inspection but the governor declared the only one benefiting was the inspection stations. I agree that you seem to have sufficient skills to inspect and replace brake lines and what brake line doesn’t have rust on it after a few years of use? I can’t see failing every car with rust on the brake lines. At any rate I think Vermont needs a new AG and I think the folks in Mass need to re-evaluate some of these silly rules on the books. Buyer beware and protect thyself as always.

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That is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. I can’t count the number of articles I have read stating that very reason to run away from any car deal. In your case you were thoughtful enough to go after the inspector and not the seller. My theory is that those five minutes on hold were just enough for the guy you talked to, to be told the guy you bought it from is the owner’s cousin’s brother’s uncle and they have been cranking out fake inspections for this guy for a while and he shouldn’t ask questions. So they fix this to get you happy and keep on doing business as usual. They probably never had someone blaming them for the lemon they bought from guy on craigslist with third party titles.

You really should report this guy because what he is doing is illegal most places I know of. The next person he tries to rip off may be thankful for it.


Report the seller. He’s cheating the tax collector, probably the IRS, and he’s almost for certain not licensed. If you were paralyzed in an accident because the brakes failed, would your family think the seller was an OK guy?


I see a lot of nasty looking rust in the background on top of the brake line issues so I tend to wonder if the car is crusher bait.

So how much did you give for this peach? If rusty brake lines and who knows what else was replaced to meet a certain standard would you be willing to pay a substantially higher price for the car?

If the guy is selling multiple vehicles and does not hold a dealer license then it sounds like he’s guilty of title jumping.
There are laws against that.


MD state inspection is a safety inspection and only occurs when the vehicle is purchased. It seems to me that you have a right to expect that the vehicle passes all safety inspection points. If it doesn’t, the inspector failed to do his job. I think it is reasonable to assume that your isn’t the first vehicle that was passed during a cigarette break at this shop. I think you should give them a shot at making it right. I also think you should contact the DMV or the State Police about this. Make sure you have good pictures of the problems. Don’t take it in until the DMV or State Police inspect the vehicle. The State Police might tell you to get it inspected at a reputable shop, then take it back. The State Police want to find licensed inspectors that cheat the public and make their lives very hard.

I live in Maryland too. In the late 1980s I wanted to sell a car. I decided to take it to a local licensed inspector for an inspection certificate. They told me I needed a couple of bulbs and new brakes. The brakes were a couple weeks old, and the lights worked when I took the car in. I walked in to complain in my black fabric windbreaker, khaki slacks, black tie shoes, and my short cropped hair. I pointed out the issues and demanded that we look at the brakes. Golly gee! They were perfect! They shop supervisor got very nervous. I supposed from the way I was dressed and my short hair he thought I was a state cop ready to bust him. They fixed everything on the list for free. They didn’t want to lose their license for safety inspections. I bet the guy you talked to doesn’t want to lose his license either. If there are any other safety issues, and no doubt there are, you might everything for free since they did such a poor job to begin with.

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so, did you get the real owner to sign the title? If you did, there is nothing you can do to the guy unless he has a huge long list of previous mishandlings (call it whatever you want). He will simply claim that he did nothing wrong and helped someone sell a car, not against the law and claim ignorance as far as the break lines are concerned. If you did not get the original owner’s signature on the title transfer, but someone else’s, you would be committing a crime when you take the title transfer to the DMV.

Yes, the original owner was a woman and she signed the title when she sold it to him.
he bought the vehicle and had some steering components replaced ( at the same place that inspected the vehicle no doubt) and then he resold it to me and gave me her title, he never titled it in his name.from what some people have said here that was probably illegal for him to do that.

In some states the title is given to the dealer when vehicle is traded in and the title changes are not made until is sold to the new owner. Possible nothing is wrong here with the title.

The real problem is traveling 2.5 hours to buy a vehicle from someone working out of their front yard.