DMV: Inspection of Trailers

Inspection of Trailers:
Camp, Commercial, Boat and Utility

The following explanation for inspection of trailers has been prepared by the Department of Motor Vehicles to help clarify questions concerning such inspections. These requirements apply to trailers 1967 and newer. The following abbreviations will be used: FMCSR means Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49CFR 393), GVWR means Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and GW means Gross Weight.

In order to inspect a trailer, it must be accompanied by supporting documents showing proof of ownership or as otherwise indicated for homemade trailers. All such documents will be returned to the applicant for registration purposes.

See locations of operation for DMV Safety Inspection Lanes at DMV offices.

Body - Torn fenders that have sharp edges are prohibited. Also prohibited are dangerous projections from any surface of the vehicle or any doors on campers that do not properly latch. Doors must be adequately attached to frame. Floors of campers must be capable of supporting standing weight and other types must be capable of supporting the intended load. Guides, rollers and pivots on boat trailers must be properly secured. Ramps on flat beds that do not flip completely back onto the bed must have a means of being secured.

Brake Equipment - Any trailer with a GVWR of 3000 lbs. or more will be assumed as intended to carry such weight and therefore shall be equipped with a braking system operating on all wheels. The braking system shall be adequate to safely control movement of the trailer and, when set, to safely hold the trailer stationary. Electric or air brakes are required on all trailers over 8,000 lbs. GW and on any commercial trailer required to have brakes under FMCSR applicable when the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) with the towing vehicle is 10,000 lbs. or more in interstate use and 18,001 lbs. or more in intrastate use. These braking systems must be operable at the driverís seat of the towing vehicle by either hand or foot. Surge brakes are allowed as the trailer brakes on non-commercial trailers having a GW of 8,000 lbs. or less. Surge brakes may be allowed on commercial trailers having a GW of 8,000 lbs. or less only if not subject to the interstate and intrastate limits noted above. Any trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or more and commercial trailers subject to the interstate and intrastate limits noted above will also require an emergency break-away device to set the trailer brakes upon separation from the towing vehicle.
 
Display of Number Plate - Every trailer shall display a number plate in the horizontal position which is fastened so as not to swing and shall be illuminated with a white light that does not show directly to the rear. The plate must be installed in a location so that it remains fully visible when the trailer is carrying its normal load.
 
Fenders - Fenders are required on all trailers where the rear body portion does not afford adequate protection to effectively minimize the spray or splash of water or dirt. All fenders must cover entire tread width of each tire. The determinant of the effectiveness of the body to act as a fender and/or mud flap is whether the height of the rearmost portion is one-third of or less than the distance from the center of the rearmost axle. This section shall not apply to vehicles registered as farm vehicles.
 
Frame - The frame shall be capable of supporting intended load without excessive flexing. Fish plates or other suitable reinforcement will be required at points of stress. All welding shall be of industry standard quality and type. Frame shall be approximately parallel with the ground.
 
Hitch - Every trailer hitch or coupling used as a means of attaching a trailer to the towing vehicle shall be properly and securely mounted and structurally adequate for the weight drawn. For more information, please refer to Motor Vehicle Regulation 14-137-123 and 124. Markings on balls and commercially available hitches will be used to determine compliance with this requirement. If no manufacturer's weight markings are present on the ball or hitch, the following SAE ratings will be used to establish the maximum weight in lbs.: 
  • 1 and 7/8-inch Ball - 2,000 lbs.
  • 2-inch Ball with 3/4-inch bolt - 3,500 lbs.

  • 2-inch Ball with 1-inch bolt - 5,000 lbs.

  • 2-inch Ball with 1-3/8-inch bolt - 10,000 lbs.

  • 2 and 5/16-inch Ball with 1-inch bolt - 5,000 lbs.

  • 2 and 5/16-inch Ball with 1-1/4-inch bolt - 7,500 lbs.

Class 1 Hitch - 2,000 lbs. Class 2 Hitch - 3,500 lbs.
Class 3 Hitch - 5,000 lbs. Class 4 Hitch - 10,000 lbs.

*Note: Manufacturers can rate hitches higher than as indicated.

Lighting Devices - (For trailers less than 30 inches wide see *note below)

Identification Lamps - Trailers eighty inches (80") or more in overall width shall be equipped on the rear with three (3) red identification lamps mounted in the center. The centers of each of the three lights must be spaced not less than 6" nor more than 12" from each other.

Reflectors - All must be mounted at a height between 15" and 60". If no permanent structure exists to allow installation at the indicated height, the height shall be as close as feasible to the indicated heights.

Trailers Less than 80 Inches Wide

Homemade Trailers - Shall display 2 red reflectors at the rear mounted as far apart as practicable.

Manufactured Trailers Built After January 1, 1968 - Shall display 2 red reflectors at the rear as indicated for homemade trailers. Shall also display 2 red side reflectors at or near the rear and, if over 61" long, 2 amber side reflectors at or near the front.Trailers 80 Inches or More in Overall Width - All shall display the same reflectors indicated for manufactured trailers built after January 1, 1968. In addition, trailers over 10,000 lbs. GVWR require red and white reflective tape on the sides and rear, excepting house and office trailers.Trailers 30 Feet or More in Overall Length - One amber reflector centrally located, on each side, with respect to length.

Side Marker and Clearance Lamps - Requirements listed below:Trailers Less Than 80 Inches Wide: Manufactured Trailers Built After January 1, 1968 - Shall display 2 red side marker lamps at or near the rear and, if over 61" long, 2 amber side marker lamps at or near the front.Trailers 80 Inches or More in Overall Width - all shall display the same lamps as side marker and clearance lamps indicated for manufactured trailers built after January 1, 1968. Trailers 30 Feet or More in Overall Length - One amber side marker lamp centrally located, on each side, with respect to length.

Stop Lamps - Two or more red stop lamps mounted at a height between 15" and 72" are required.

Turn Signals - Every trailer shall be required to have operating red or amber turn signal lamps at the rear mounted at a height between 15" and 83".

*Note: Special Requirements for Trailers Less Than 30 Inches Wide - Any trailer less than 30" in overall width is exempt from the above listed lighting devices and need be equipped only with one each of the following red lighting devices located at or near the center: tail lamp, stop lamp, and reflector. A white marker light is also required.

Mirrors - Two outside mirrors are required on the towing vehicle to show the roadway to the side and rear of the towing vehicle/trailer combination. Mirrors shall be properly mounted and securely fastened to prevent excessive vibration.

Safety Chain - Every tag-along or drawbar type trailer hitch or coupler used as a means of attaching a camp trailer to the tow vehicle shall also be coupled to the frame of the towing vehicle by means of safety chains or cables of sufficient strength and installed in such a manner to control the trailer in the event of failure of the regular trailer hitch or coupling. This means that the chains should be capable of being attached in a manner to keep the trailer coupler from dragging on the road in case of disconnect. Two safety chains or cables will be required unless the trailer tongue is specifically designed to be symmetrically supported by a single chain or cable. Fifth wheel trailers with any ball mount will require a safety chain or cable while fifth wheel plate and kingpin styles will be required to have a safety on or locking of the operating handle. Please also refer to Motor Vehicle Regulation 14-137-123 and 124.

Suspension - Trailers (excluding tow dollies) over 1000 lbs. GVWR should have a suspension rather than attaching the axle directly to the frame. Lowest section of the sprung weight must not be less than 4" off the ground. Axles must be appropriately sized for the weight to be carried.

Tires -Tires must have two-thirty-seconds inch (2/32") center tread and no cuts, bulges, exposed cord, or deteriorating sidewall otherwise known as "dry rot". Tire weight ratings must be adequate for the axle ratings.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) - All trailers will be checked for a VIN which must be physically verified against supporting paperwork. Any trailer that does not have a VIN will need a VIN assigned in accordance with the DMV Policy for Reassigning Trailer VINs (see Reassignment of Missing Trailer VIN for more information).

Wiring - All electrical wiring must be properly insulated, secured, and supported. Maximum distance between wiring supports is 18 inches. Wires chaffing on moving parts such as the suspension will be cause for rejection. Connections between towing vehicle and trailer must be made through a quick disconnect plug or connector.

For registration information, please see Requirements for the Registration of a Camp Trailer.





Content Last Modified on 2/18/2014 10:28:04 AM