Trailer inspection requirements

What you need to know before getting an inspection for your camp, commercial, boat or utility trailer

Trailer inspection requirements

What you need to know before getting an inspection for your camp, commercial, boat or utility trailer
Get your trailer inspected and registered

A trailer is any attached vehicle with wheels that can be used to transport equipment and is hauled behind another vehicle. For the purposes of trailer inspections, the following guidelines apply to any trailers made in 1967 or newer.


At the time of an inspection, you’ll need to bring supporting documents showing proof of ownership or as otherwise indicated for homemade trailers. All documents will be returned to you for registration purposes.

To find a DMV inspection lane, visit the Inspection Lane Locations & Hours page.

 

Glossary

  • FMCSR: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49CFR 393)
  • GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
  • GW: Gross Weight

Guidelines 

Make sure your trailer inspection goes as smoothly as possible by reviewing the following guidelines.

Body - Torn fenders that have sharp edges, dangerous projections from any surface, and any doors on campers that don’t latch are prohibited. Doors must be attached to the frame. Floors of campers must be capable of supporting standing weight and other types of trailer floors 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 be able to be secured.

Brake equipment - Any trailer that has a GVWR of 3000 lbs. or more will need to have a braking system operating on all wheels to support that weight. The braking system will need to be able to safely control movement of the trailer and, when set, safely hold the trailer in place.

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 driver’s 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.

Fenders - Fenders are required on all trailers where the rear body portion does not minimize the spray or splash of water or dirt. All fenders must cover the entire width of each tire. The effectiveness of the body to act as a fender and/or mud flap is determined by whether or not the height of the rearmost portion is one-third or less than the distance from the center of the rearmost axle. This section doesn’t apply to vehicles registered as farm vehicles.

Frame - The frame needs to be able to support the intended load without excessive flexing. Fish plates or other suitable reinforcement will be required at points of stress. All welding needs to be of industry-standard quality and type. Frames need to be approximately parallel with the ground.

Hitch - Every trailer hitch - or coupling used as a means of attaching a trailer to the towing vehicle - needs to be properly and securely mounted and structurally sound 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 can be seen on the ball or hitch, the following SAE (Serious Adverse Events) ratings will be used to establish the maximum weight in pounds:

  • 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") wide or more must have three (3) red identification lamps mounted in the center of the rear of the vehicle. The centers of each of the three lights should not be spaced less than 6" but not more than 12" from each other.
  • Reflectors - All need to be mounted at a height between 15" and 60". If no permanent structure exists to allow installation at the indicated height, the height should be as close to the noted heights as possible.

Side marker and clearance lamps -

  • Trailers 30 feet or more in overall length - One amber side marker lamp and reflector centrally located on each side, with respect to length.
  • Trailers less than 80 inches wide: manufactured trailers built After January 1, 1968 - Shall display 2 red side marker lamps and reflectors at or near the rear and, if over 61" long, 2 amber side marker lamps and reflectors 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. In addition, trailers over 10,000 lbs. GVWR require red and white reflective tape on the sides and rear, excepting house and office trailers.


*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 to 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. 

Number Plate - Every trailer needs to have number plate in a horizontal position that is securely fastened (no swinging plates) and is illuminated by a white light that does not show directly to the rear. The plate must be fully visible when the trailer is carrying its normal load.

Trailers less than 80 inches wide

Homemade trailers - Shall display two red reflectors at the rear mounted as far apart as practicable.

Tow dollies - Tow dollies (two-wheeled trailer without motive power that is towed by a motor vehicle, that is designed and used to tow another motor vehicle) are exempt from the registration requirements of chapter 246 of the Connecticut general statutes. These types of trailers are often rented, and therefore move from state to state.

Stop lamps – Trailers need to have two or more red stop lamps mounted at a height between 15" and 72".

Turn Signals - Every trailer needs to have working rear red or amber turn signal lamps mounted at a height between 15" and 83".

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 should be properly mounted and securely fastened to prevent excessive vibration.

Safety Chain - Every tag-along or drawbar-type trailer hitch or coupler used to attach a camp trailer to the tow vehicle should also be coupled to the frame of the towing vehicle by safety chains or cables to control the trailer if the regular trailer hitch or coupling fails. This means that the chains should be able to be attached to keep the trailer coupler from dragging on the road. 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 instead of attaching the axle directly to the frame. The 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 32-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 doesn't 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 needs to be properly insulated, secured, and supported. The max distance between wiring supports is 18 inches. Wires chaffing on moving parts, such as the suspension, will cause an inspection to be rejected. Connections between towing vehicle and trailer should be made through a quick disconnect plug or connector.

 

Next steps:

Once you’re ready to have your trailer inspected, it’s time to head to an inspection lane! To find the correct DMV inspection lane, visit the inspection lane locations and hours page.

For registration information, please see Requirements for the registration of a camp trailer.