Most states require that at least once a year you have your vehicle inspected to ensure it’s running properly and is not a danger to you and others on the road. If you are a new car owner or new to a state that requires inspections, we have compiled a list of everything that you need to know before you take your car in.
What Will a State Inspector Look For?
In general, a state inspector will only approve a car that is running one hundred percent correctly. This means that they will check the:
- Exhaust System
- Steering Mechanism
- Rearview Mirrors
- Windshield Wipers
- Gas Cap (Depending on the Vehicle)
- Headlights, Turn Signals, and Stop and Warning Lights
- Wheel Assembly and Tire Status
- Foot and Parking Breaks
To test all the above features, the inspector may need to take your car for a test drive. They will also likely have a mechanic to help them test different parts of your car.
What Do I Need to Bring When My Car Is Being Inspected?
The first thing that you will be asked to provide is your proof of insurance. A state inspector cannot look at your car without the appropriate documentation, so check that you have it before you leave the house. In addition, you should make sure that the name on your insurance matches the one on your driver’s license to avoid problems.
The cost of a state inspection will obviously vary from state to state; however, the price is usually around 20 dollars. We recommend bringing cash, as most mechanics that do inspections add on extra fees for using credit cards.
We also recommend removing all your house keys, apartment keys, room keys, etc., from your car keychain before handing them off to the state inspector. This will help keep your personal items safe from being stolen or lost.
How Often Are Safety Inspections Required?
As stated previously, you will likely need to have your car inspected at least once a year. In addition to these annual inspections, you may need to do a special inspection in the following circumstances:
- New Residents – In certain states, you must get your car inspected 30 days after you move into your new home. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines and even restrictions put on your license.
- Title Transfers and Used Cars – If you buy a used car from a dealership, they will more than likely have done the state inspection for you. However, if you buy a car from a private party and the title is merely transferred to your name, you will need to have an inspection as soon as possible. This is beneficial regardless of the requirement because it ensures that the car you just bought is in good, working condition.
- Out of State Vehicles – The eligibility of your inspection from a previous state may vary. Make sure to check with your DMV or insurance about which states require what inspections.
Though state inspections may seem daunting, they are ultimately beneficial to preserving your car. We recommend that along with your state inspection, you also ask for an oil change and tire rotation, just to make sure your car is in good working condition.