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Anyone who has owned a car knows about the headaches that can come from getting it inspected. While many people believe all states require inspections, that’s actually not the case. Seven U.S. states don’t require car inspections, so if you live in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, South Carolina, or South Dakota, this may not apply to you.

For the rest of us, annual inspections are a part of life. If you’re considering buying a motorcycle, you may be curious about the inspection requirements for your state. Thankfully, AAA helped us answer this question.

Are you required to have your motorcycle inspected?

While it would be convenient if the laws were the same across all 50 states, that’s not the case. As the Motorcycle Law Group explains, “Knowing these statutes not only allows you to avoid needless charges, it helps you to know when your rights have been violated.” To make life easier, find out what your state requires and prepare your bike before you take it in. 

Common motorcycle inspection factors

There are some common regulations among all or most states. This may help if you plan to move to another region or are new to the world of motorcycles.

Mirrors are one of the biggest commonalities that inspectors examine. Most states require that bikes have a mirror, but those conditions can vary. For example, Arkansas requires a rearview mirror but doesn’t offer any specifics. Alaska also requires rearview mirrors but asserts that motorcycles need both left and right mirrors. You can prepare by making sure your motorcycle has mirrors that meet your state’s requirements.

Another common inspection requirement involves lighting. Once again, this can vary from state to state. As AAA explains, in Hawaii, “Every motorcycle or motor scooter must have at least 1 lighted, red taillight which must be in use from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise and must be powerful enough so as to be visible from a distance of 200 feet to the rear.”

Maryland is even stricter. The headlamp must be visible from various distances depending on your speed. The faster you drive, the farther away your lights should be visible. You’re also required to have a light that illuminates your registration plate. The third most common requirement involves brakes, which we’ll get into next.

States with stricter motorcycle inspection requirements


The year your motorcycle was manufactured is very important to many states. AAA reports that for motorcycles produced before 1973, you must have at least one brake on your bike. If your motorcycle was produced after 1973, you’re required to have one brake on the front and one on the back.


The requirements in Nevada are very specific. For example, you must have at least one headlight, but no more than two. Both wheels are required to have fenders. You must also have one rear light that is red, as well as a rear reflector. 


In Washington, handlebars and grips must be no higher than 30 inches higher than the seat. Motorcycles that are 25 years old or younger must have left and right side mirrors. These mirrors must also give the rider a full view of the highway for at least 200 feet. 

Updates to laws

When preparing to get your motorcycle inspected, keep in mind that the laws for your state may have changed. Make sure you check for any updates before you schedule an inspection, so that you aren’t taken by surprise.