Are inspections more about the safety of the driver or the safety of the government and the mechanic’s revenue? Studies have come down on both sides, but the jury’s out. Maybe that’s why some states have no inspections at all. 

No matter where you live, a quick read could help you skip the headache and keep as much of your hard-earned cash as you can. 

Speaking of your wallet, why not pay for your inspection with the cheap car insurance savings you’ll find in a few minutes at Insurify?

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How to Find State Vehicle Inspection Near Me

Many states allow local repair shops to work as vehicle inspection stations. Some states require you to go to a department of motor vehicles (DMV) or another government-run facility. The DMV website is the best place to start, but a Google search for the nearest inspection place will also help. 

Some state laws mandate that you must pass your vehicle check before you can renew your registration. The secret is to go when others don’t: most state government inspection stickers, license plates, permits, and tags expire near the end of the month, so expect that time to be busier.

Vehicle Inspection Requirements by State

Here’s the general paperwork you’ll need for most inspections:

    • Driver’s license
    • Title
    • Proof of Insurance
    • Bill of Sale or other sales documents, if applicable
    • VIN Inspection form, if applicable
  • In the table below, vehicle emissions testing, emissions inspection, and smog inspection are used interchangeably.
  • VIN inspections are part of the registration process for out-of-state vehicles.
  • The term “all vehicles” refers to gas, diesel, and hybrid private passenger vehicles, but not alternative fuel, full electric, trailers, motorcycles, mopeds, buses, motor homes, etc.
  • Requirements focus on private passenger vehicles and don’t list all vehicle exemptions, such as commercial vehicles, gross vehicle weight (above 8,500 or 10,000 lbs depending on the state), etc.
  • Note: Data sourced from federal, state, and local governments.

Vehicle Inspection Requirements By State

State Safety Inspection Emission Inspection VIN Inspection  Frequency Requirements Cost Other
Alabama N/A N/A Sale or transfer of ownership N/A Take the vehicle to the county vehicle licensing office Part of $15–$23 registration fee N/A
Alaska N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Arizona N/A Yes N/A Every 2 years All vehicles in Phoenix and Tucson metros Phoenix: $17, Tucson: $12.25 Timing: Phoenix: 2 years for vehicles year 1980 or newer, yearly otherwise, Tucson: 2 years for vehicles year 1996 or newer, yearly otherwise
Arkansas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
California N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years or upon registration renewal Emission: in most counties, gas vehicles more than 4 years old for year 1976 or newer; diesel vehicles year 1998 or newer; VIN: may require before registration Emission: depends on inspector; VIN: part of $62 fee check your county
Colorado N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: gas vehicles at least 7 years old in the most populated counties Emission: $25; VIN: $20 Emission: check your county
Connecticut N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: gas and hybrid vehicles at least 3 years old for year 1996 or newer; VIN: out-of-state vehicle before registration otherwise done on emissions test Emission: $20; VIN: $10 N/A
Delaware Yes Yes N/A Every 2 years Safety and Emission: All vehicles at least 7 years old before registration/renewal Part of $40 registration fee Safety: pay special attention to your brakes and tires
Florida N/A N/A VIN and odometer verification N/A N/A N/A N/A
Georgia N/A Yes N/A Every year All vehicles 3–25 years old in some Atlanta metro counties $25  check your county
Hawaii Yes N/A N/A Every year Brand-new vehicles exempt for the first 2 years; all others the stations inspect yearly Depends on inspector N/A
Idaho N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: all gas and diesel vehicles at least 5 years old for year 1981 or newer in Ada and Canyon Counties and Kuna City Emission: $14; VIN: part of $45–$69 registration fee N/A
Illinois N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: all gas vehicles at least 4 years old for year 1997 or newer in Chicago and St. Louis Metro East Emission: $20; VIN: part of emissions testing N/A
Indiana N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: all gas vehicles at least 4 years old for year 1976 or newer in Lake and Porter Counties Emission: free; VIN: free N/A
Iowa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Kansas N/A N/A Yes N/A N/A $20  N/A
Kentucky N/A N/A Yes N/A N/A $5  N/A
Louisiana Yes Yes N/A Safety: every 1 year or 2 years Emission: every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all gas vehicles year 1980 or newer in the 5 Baton Rouge parishes Safety: $10 for 1 year, $20 for 2 years; Emission and Safety: $18 for 1 year N/A
Maine Yes Yes N/A Safety: every 1 year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: vehicles registered in Cumberland County Safety: $12.50; Emission and Safety: $18.50 N/A
Maryland Yes Yes N/A Every 2 years Safety: used vehicles before sale or transfer; Emission: all vehicles year 1996 or newer in 13 counties and Baltimore city Safety: depends on inspector; Emission: $14 Emission: check your county
Massachusetts Yes Yes N/A Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all vehicles less than 15 years old Safety and Emission: $35 N/A
Michigan N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minnesota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Mississippi N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Missouri Yes Yes Yes Every 2 years Safety: all vehicles at least 11 years old or with 150,000 miles; Emission: all vehicles 4 years old with over 40,000 miles in Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, and St. Louis City Safety: $12; Emission: $24; VIN: part of $14.50 title fee N/A
Montana N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Nebraska N/A N/A Yes N/A N/A $20  N/A
Nevada N/A Yes Yes Every year Emission: All vehicles in Las Vegas and Reno metros, year 1968 or newer, that are at least 3 years old for gas or diesel, or at least 5 years old for hybrids  Emission: $50–$79 in Clark County, $50–$59 in Washoe County; VIN: part of $33 registration fee N/A
New Hampshire Yes Yes N/A Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all vehicles less than 20 years old Safety and Emission: depends on inspector N/A
New Jersey N/A Yes N/A Every 2 years Emission: all gas vehicles year 1996 or newer or diesel vehicles year 1997 or newer Free or $2.50 from a private inspection facility N/A
New Mexico N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: all gas vehicles at least 4 years old for year 1986 and newer in Bernalillo County Emission: depends on inspector, range is $15–$25 plus tax; VIN: part of $26–$140 registration fee N/A
New York Yes Yes N/A Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all vehicles 2–25 years old that use gas year 1996 or newer or diesel year 1997 or newer Safety: $10; Emission: $11 for vehicles year 1995 and older or outside NY metro, $27 in NY metro  both inspections are done at the same time
North Carolina Yes Yes N/A Every year Safety: all vehicles less than 35 years old; Emission: all gas vehicles in 22 counties 3–20 years old or with over 70,000 miles Safety: $13.60; Safety and Emission: $30 check your county
North Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Ohio N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: all vehicles 4–25 years old in 7 counties and the Cleveland/Akron metro Emission: free; VIN: $3.50 check your county
Oklahoma N/A N/A Yes N/A N/A N/A N/A
Oregon N/A Yes Yes Every 2 years Emission: all vehicles at least 3 years old for year 1975 or newer in Medford and Portland metros Emission: Portland: $25, Medford: $15; VIN and Emission: $7 for out-of-state vehicle plus Portland or Medford fee N/A
Pennsylvania Yes Yes Yes Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all gas vehicles that are at least a year old, with over 5,000 miles, year 1975 or newer in Norther, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, South Central, and other counties Safety, Emission: depends on inspector; VIN: part of safety inspection Emission: check your county
Rhode Island Yes Yes Yes Every 2 years Safety and Emission: all vehicles at least 2 years old Safety and Emission: $55; VIN: depends on the police department VIN: state police departments perform inspections
South Carolina N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
South Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Tennessee N/A Yes N/A Every year all vehicles year 1975 or newer in Davidson, Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson Counties $9  N/A
Texas Yes Yes N/A Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all gas vehicles 2–24 years old in 17 counties Safety: $7; Safety and Emission: $18.50–$25.50 depends on county; Emission: $11.50–$18.50 depends on county Emission: check your county
Utah N/A Yes N/A Every 2 years Emission: all vehicles at least 6 years old, that are gas year 1968 or newer or diesel year 1998 or newer, in Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, and Weber Counties Cache: $20, Davis: depends on inspector, Salt Lake and Utah: depends on inspector but averages $25, Weber: $30 N/A
Vermont Yes Yes Yes Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all vehicles 16 years old or newer  Safety and Emission: depends on inspector; VIN: part of $76–$132 registration fee N/A
Virginia Yes Yes N/A Every year Safety: all vehicles; Emission: all gas vehicles 4–25 years old, and all diesel vehicles at least 4 years old year 1997 or newer, in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and 5 northern Virginia cities Safety: $20; Emission: $28 N/A
Washington N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
West Virginia Yes N/A N/A Every year All vehicles $14.66  N/A
Wisconsin N/A Yes N/A Every 2 years All 3 years or older, gas vehicles year 1996 or newer, all diesel vehicles year 2007 or newer, in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington, and Waukesha Counties Free N/A
Wyoming N/A N/A Yes N/A N/A $10  N/A

 

How does vehicle inspection work when I’m out of state?

Depending on the state, the government may require you to register your vehicle within 10–60 days of becoming a resident. You’ll need the general paperwork mentioned above. The inspection will be part of your vehicle registration process, which may include a VIN inspection. 

Usually, VIN inspections can be completed by a law enforcement officer, DMV worker, or repair facility, or it’ll be part of your safety or emissions inspection. Sometimes, there’s a separate form and small fee.

Common Elements of a Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection

States usually have safety inspection facilities check the whole vehicle. Facilities that do valid inspections often give motorists 10 to 30 days to fix a problem and repeat the test at no added cost. 

Here’s what they’ll check in a typical Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection (using New York as an example):

  • Safety:

    • Brakes
    • Chassis
    • Frame
    • Front end
    • Fuel leaks
    • Horn
    • Lights
    • Mirrors
    • Seat belts
    • Steering
    • Suspension
    • Tires
    • Wheel fasteners
    • Windshield and other glass
    • Windshield wiper and blades

 

  • Emissions

    • On-board diagnostic II (OBDII) to check vehicles model years 1996 or newer
    • Check engine light off
    • Air injection system (AIS)
    • Catalytic converter (CAT)
    • Exhaust gas recirculation valve (EGR)
    • Evaporative emissions control (EVAP)
    • Fuel inlet restrictor (FIR)
    • Positive crankcase ventilation system (PCV)
    • Thermostatic air cleaner (TAC)

State Vehicle Inspection FA

How can I save on my car insurance costs?

Check out a website that collects quotes from the auto insurance companies available in your area. Use a car insurance comparison tool like Insurify to provide you with dozens of real quotes in just a few minutes, unlocking savings and car insurance discounts. 

How much does a Missouri state vehicle inspection cost?

Missouri has three types of state inspection: Safety inspections cost $12. Emissions inspections cost $24. VIN inspections are part of the $14.50 title fee.

How much does a North Carolina state vehicle inspection cost?

North Carolina’s safety inspection costs $13.60, and its joint safety and emissions inspection costs $30.

How much does a New York state vehicle inspection cost?

A New York motor vehicle safety inspection costs $10. Emissions inspections cost $11 for vehicles year 1995 or older or those outside of the NY metro; otherwise, they’re $27.

Conclusion: How to get the best and cheapest car insurance

It’s important for your vehicle to run safely, efficiently, and economically. A quick scan of your state’s vehicle inspection requirements should give you a grasp on the processes and fees. Why not help yourself to savings from Insurify with tailored car insurance quotes for your precise driving profile and price point in just a few minutes?

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Updated October 30, 2020

Isabella is from Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with a double major in English and Creative Writing. Though writing is her first passion, she also loves hiking, biking, hang gliding, white water rafting, skydiving, extreme eating, and the occasional swim with sharks.