Vehicle Inspection Checklist for Your Shop 

As an auto repair shop owner, you offer routine vehicle maintenance checks for the automobiles under your care. This not only ensures steady footfall, but helps you build a loyal customer base. 

Annual safety inspections are an important piece of this puzzle. You want to earn customer trust by saving them from expensive repairs that could easily have been avoided. 

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To complete this process, it’s important to have a reliable car inspection checklist handy. That’s where we can help! 

But before reviewing our sample checklist, let’s cover some other essential details. 

How to get started

First and foremost, you need a system for inspections. Along with your inspection checklist, capture the following information: 

1) Inspector details: You need a record of who conducted the inspection. This will ensure accountability.

2) Owner details: Self-explanatory, but  still important to document.

3) Vehicle details: Write down the vehicle type, make, model, VIN number and other relevant  specifics.

These details are essential so that you don’t miss anything. A written record, paired with the vehicle’s history report, gives you plenty of useful context for reference when the next repair order comes in. 

Now to the checklist itself. What should you include? Read on!

Checklist for vehicle inspections

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following on your checklist.


  • Do all body panel colors match with one another? 
  • Are there signs of a fresh paint job?
  • Does the magnet match with the steel body panels?
  • Does the windshield have any cracks?
  • Does the rearshield have any cracks?
  • Do the trunk and hood close in proper alignment?
  • Do all seams of doors and fenders meet in alignment?
  • Are there any scratches on the body? 
  • Are there any dents on the body?
  • Are the windshield wipers and blades functioning ok?
  • Are the headlights and directional lights in good shape and working?
  • Are the reverse lights working?
  • Are the brake lights responding?
  • Are both front and rear bumpers secure and in good shape?
  • Are the front and rear bumpers scratched, bent or damaged?
  • Does the license plate light work? 
  • Are the outside mirrors in place? 
  • Can you adjust the outside mirrors easily?


  • Are the tires of a reputable and recognized brand name?
  • Are all tires consistent in branding and make?
  • Are there any cuts, bubbles or cracks in any of the tires?
  • Are the tires even?
  • Are the spare tire, jack and lug wrench in the car and working properly?
  • Is the spare tire in good condition and inflated?
  • Is the tire pressure ok for the vehicle type and model?
  • Are the wheels and tires aligned?


  • Does the engine light work?
  • Are there any oil or fluid leaks?
  • Is the power steering fluid color amber, clear or pinkish?
  • Do any odors emit while the engine runs?
  • Is the oil filler neck coated with thick, black deposits? 
  • Are the battery terminals free of damage and corrosion?
  • Is the battery securely placed?
  • Is the battery light status green? (A green light means the battery is fine. A yellow or red light means you need to recharge the low battery. A black or bright white light signals it needs a replacement.)
  • Is the oil dipstick dark and black? (It shouldn’t look this way.)
  • Do the exhaust pipes expel blue or black emissions? (Blue emissions indicates that the engine burns the right oil amount, while black emissions indicate the engine consumes excessive oil)
  • Are all pipe hoses in good shape and free of damage?


  • Does the vehicle stand stably?  
  • Are any creaking sounds made when bouncing the vehicle’s corners?
  • Do all corners respond the same when bouncing?


  • Does the horn function properly?
  • Are the seats worn out or have any cracks? 
  • Do the doors open and close smoothly?
  • Does the trunk open and close smoothly?
  • Do all gauges work?
  • Are all dashboard warning lights off?
  • Does the stereo function properly?
  • Does the heater function properly?
  • Does the air conditioning function properly?
  • Are the front and back defroster functioning properly?
  • Do the windshield wipers work?
  • Does the windshield wiper fluid dispense properly?
  • Do all the seat belts function properly?
  • Does every seat adjust properly?
  • Do the power windows operate properly?
  • Does the sunroof function correctly?
  • Is the inside mirror in good condition?
  • Does the car alarm work?
  • Do the trunk and driver-side door lock and unlock with a key?
  • Do the hazard lights function properly?
  • Do the headlights work properly?


  • Is the chassis bent or cracked?
  • Does the inside of the trunk have any signs of crumpling or straightening?
  • Are the frame holes clean and free of scratches?

Automatic transmission

  • Is the transmission fluid clean?
  • Are there delays or slips in the transmission when driving?

Manual or standard transmission

  • Does each gear shift smoothly?
  • Are there any grinding noises when reversing?


  • Does the vehicle steer straight and not pull to one side when braking?
  • Do the parking brakes engage and disengage easily?
  • Are there any grinding noises when brakes are applied?
  • Do the wheels not lock when applying anti-lock brakes?
  • Are the width of the brake pads ⅛ inches thick or less from start to end? 
  • Are the emergency brakes functioning?


  • Does the vehicle drift to one side when you aren’t steering that way?
  • Is there shaking or vibration in the steering?
  • Is there resistance in the steering wheel when turning?
  • Is there clicking or clunking when turning?


  • Is the car manual in the glove compartment?
  • Are all instructions included for any other accessories?
  • Are service and repair records available?
  • Is the emergency kit available and includes:
    • First aid kit
    • Warning triangle
    • Flashlight
    • Fire extinguisher 
    • Blanket
    • Flares
    • Shovels
    • Tools
    • Reflective jackets/vests
    • Headlamp beam deflectors
    • Spare bulbs
  • Is the owner’s drivers license valid and up to date? (Check the month of expiration)
  • Do the owner and vehicle both have valid insurance coverage?
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Wrapping up

And there you have it. This extensive vehicle inspection checklist will help your shop complete a thorough car examination that customers will appreciate! 

Frequently asked questions

The inspection checklist will ensure you cover all your bases and complete a thorough review of your customer’s vehicle. 

You run through a detailed checklist with the vehicle in question to ensure all is in good condition. It is essentially measuring, testing and examining the many components of vehicles that enter your shop. 

It is a document that records all inspection steps for a customer’s vehicle in your shop. 

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