Depending on your state, your vehicle may be subject to a periodic safety inspection. In this post, we'll explore the reasons behind vehicle safety inspections and provide a list of areas covered during an inspection so that you can be ready when the time comes.
Why Do Vehicles Require Safety Inspections?
Typically, states conduct vehicle safety inspections to ensure that vehicles driven on public roads are safe to drive and free of defects that could jeopardize the safety of the driver and other motorists. Some states require these safety inspections before you can renew your license plate.
What Vehicles Require Safety Inspections?
For states requiring safety inspections, any vehicle driven on public roadways must undergo an annual safety inspection. Some states, such as Missouri and Rhode Island, require drivers to get safety inspections every other year.
It's not just passenger cars that require additional safety inspections. Other types of vehicles do, too, including:
- School buses
- Taxis/public transit vehicles
- Rental cars
These vehicles generally need safety inspections every six months. Drivers must have the inspection sticker displayed in the corner of their windshield—inspectors will put it there once they check the vehicle—to verify it's safe for driving.
Some vehicles are exempt from safety inspections entirely, such as farm vehicles and vehicles with historic plates.
What's Inspected During a Safety Inspection?
A safety inspection will cover multiple areas of your vehicle, but the following are areas you should pay particular attention to before having your car inspected.
Tire Tread Depth and Wear
Insert a penny into your tire treads. If you can see Lincoln's head, it's unlikely you'll pass the inspection. If you notice uneven wear, this could indicate an alignment problem that will cause your car to fail inspection.
To pass your safety inspection, you must ensure all your lights should be in working order. That includes headlights, brake lights, reverse lights, turn signals, and your tag light—an area many drivers overlook. These lights should also be free of all condensation to pass the test.
Windshield and Mirrors
Your windshield and mirrors need to be free from all cracks and chips. If you have a missing or damaged mirror, you need to replace it to pass inspection.
Check Your Wipers
Your windshield wipers should be in working order, and your windshield defroster should also be in working order to pass the test.
Check Your Horn
Test your horn. If it's not working or if the sound is muffled, your car can fail the inspection.
Driver's Seat and Seat Belts
The driver's seat needs to be stable and adequately situated behind the wheel. All seatbelts should be able to latch correctly.
Gas and Oil
Ensure your car's gas cap isn't leaking. Also, double-check that no oil or other fluids are leaking from underneath your vehicle.
When your car is driving, check for any loud noises that could indicate a problem with your exhaust system or any steering problems that could point to a problem with your alignment.
Safety inspections are meant to protect you and other motorists who share public roadways. By understanding what to look for, you can better prepare for your next inspection.
If you own a vehicle, your state will require you to bring that car at least once a year for safety tests. Consider the above components to make sure your car's ready to pass and hit (or stay on) the road.