Four Optional ItemsThe NSRA Safety Division recommends and looks for these four optional items during inspections: fire extinguisher, seat belts, third brake light, and dual master cylinder. These items will not affect the outcome of the inspection, but participants are highly encouraged to have them on their rods.

Dennis emphasizes that the safety inspectors are not judging the cars and that they are instructed to be helpful, not critical. Their job is to serve as another set of eyes, to spot and identify things on a car that the owner should work on to make the car safer. In fact, Dennis says that the majority of people are appreciative when an inspector finds something wrong, especially if it's something they didn't know about.

"We've seen people go directly to the swap meet area or to a vendor's booth to get the right part they need to fix the car on the spot, so they can come back and pass the inspection. Once, a participant came through with a brand-new car with so many problems that we got writer's cramp writing them all up. That guy ended up staying up until 4:00 that night fixing every last thing on that list, came back the next day, and passed."

Not everybody is that conscientious. In some cases, such as with windshield wipers, there are many rodders who just don't want them, even though it means their car does not pass the inspection. Dennis encourages those people to get a free inspection anyway. "Let us look at the rest of the vehicle and make sure everything else is safe." Unlike at the DMV or the dragstrip, there is no penalty for not passing an NSRA inspection. Sure, the occasional inspection surprise is embarrassing, but they happen to everybody who's ever spun a wrench, and they're dangerous if they go undiscovered. That's why it's a great idea to put your rod through an NSRA safety inspection. Even if you don't care about the sticker or the pin, you'll know you're driving a safe street rod.

LightingInspection SurpriseThis isn't a mistake as much as a McGyver-style quick fix. Dennis recalls one ride that wouldn't pass because it had no license plate light. The owner came back 30 minutes later. "He'd taken the top off a regular click-type ballpoint pen, pulled out the ink cartridge, found a bulb that fit inside the top, clipped it to the license plate, and ran a wire to the taillight wires. He had himself a license plate light!"

SteeringInspection SurpriseDennis still can't believe the time somebody brought in a car with the steering shaft built out of EMT conduit. That's not how to pass a safety inspection.

BrakesInspection Surprise"Some inspection teams have a guy press on the brake and then put his foot under the brake and pull it back. If the car doesn't have a master cylinder rod retainer, you can actually pull the pedal back and make the rod fall out of the master cylinder. That's rare but it happens."

Brake LinesInspection SurpriseDennis recalls, "An inspector once told me, 'I just inspected a car with independent four-wheel suspension and steel lines.' I said, 'Good.' He said, 'You don't understand, it had just steel rubber.' The steel lines ran from the wheels to the frame. Those lines wouldn't have made it very far with the wheels bouncing up and down."

Brake LinesInspection Surprise "One time a guy told me that he'd just put in a new rearend," Dennis said. "When I checked that area, I found that the brake line ran over the top of the axle and had been smashed flat by the frame. He was really happy to find out why his rear brakes weren't working right!"

Chassis FastenersInspection SurpriseDennis remembers inspecting a Deuce coupe with a dropped axle. "I lifted up the drag link and said, 'This is probably supposed to be bolted tighter than this.' There was no nut on the steering arm bolt! One bump and the drag link would have fallen off."

Did You Know?Several states have modified the NSRA Vehicle Safety Inspection for their DMV street rod registration programs. For more information about NSRA, go to