A vehicle safety inspection is a specific type of inspection performed by the government that aims to make sure every vehicle on the road is safe. The entire reason they exist is to keep roads, passengers, drivers, and pedestrians as safe as possible at all times.
Do you need one? That depends on where you live. Some states require vehicle safety inspections, while others require emissions testing. Some require no inspection at all. You'll need to check your state's laws to determine whether you need one. Let's take a deeper look at these inspections to examine what they inspect and find out where you can get them done.
What Does a Vehicle Safety Inspection Assess?
The exact inspection criteria vary from state to state, with each governing body deciding what parts of the vehicle should be inspected. As an example, let's take a look at the inspection components for New York state when it comes to cars and trucks:
- Fuel leaks
- Seat belts
- Steering, including the front-end assembly, suspension, chassis, and frame
- Windshield wipers
- All glass
Based on this list, we can tell that they're testing for any major issues that might make the car unsafe. Louisiana, to compare, is a bit stricter and checks on more systems in the car. In addition to what's inspected in New York, the following are inspected in Louisiana:
- Exhaust system
- Shock absorbers
- Floor pan (no holes or rusted areas allowed in the passenger area)
- Parking brakes
- Hood latch
- All lighting
- Body and sheet metal
We can see from these two lists that a car that would pass in New York has the potential to fail in Louisiana.
Where can you get your car inspected? Your state will likely have a section of the Department of Motor Vehicles' website that's devoted to finding inspection sites. These sites are typically operated by the government. You should also doublecheck to learn whether any fees apply, as well.
What Happens If You Don't Have Your Vehicle Inspected?
States that require a vehicle inspection also mandate them when you want to change ownership of the vehicle or to register the vehicle. This means that if you skip the inspection, you'll be breaking more than one law in the process. As such, the fines and penalties will be quite heavy and you'll face the possibility of having your car impounded.
Some states require inspections at regular intervals. In these states, if you are pulled over and do not have evidence of a current vehicle inspection, you will receive a ticket and fine. Some states require inspection stickers to be placed in the window, making it easy for an officer to quickly check whether your inspection has lapsed.
Always Have Your Vehicle Inspected If Required
Vehicle safety inspections are typically free or relatively inexpensive. They are more of an inconvenience than anything else. You should certainly have one completed if you're in a state that requires one.