Vehicle Inspection Requirements by State (2024)

Several states don’t have any vehicle inspection requirements.

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Sarah Archambault
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Sarah enjoys helping people find smarter ways to spend their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans.

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Konstantin Halachev
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Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

Updated August 3, 2023

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Many states require passenger vehicles to pass mandated vehicle inspections every one to two years. These checkups may include vehicle safety inspections, mandatory smog checks, and vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.

From a cracked windshield to worn-out brakes or a leaky exhaust system, many aspects of your vehicle can make it unsafe to drive or contribute to poor air quality. State inspections can prevent potentially hazardous vehicles from being on the road and help ensure your car is safe to drive.

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Vehicle inspection requirements by state

Vehicle inspection requirements vary widely by state due to factors like inspection cost, frequency, and guidelines related to vehicle age and mileage. Some states don’t require regular vehicle inspections.

Here are the vehicle inspection requirements by state.

StateCostFrequencyRequirements
AlabamaRegistration fee: $23 to $105YearlyVIN inspection: At the county vehicle licensing office
Alaska$20N/AVIN inspection: Only required in select situations, including if you need to get a VIN number for your vehicle or home-built trailer, register a reconstructed vehicle, purchased a vehicle from an impound lien, imported a car from another country, or purchased a vehicle through a U.S. Government auction
Arizona$12 to $25Every one to two years, but every year for diesel vehiclesEmissions test: For vehicles in Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas
ArkansasN/AN/AN/A
California

Smog test: $20 to $70

VIN inspection: Part of $65 registration fee

Every two years or upon registration renewal

Smog test: For gas, hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles more than 8 years old and with a model year of 1976 or newer, and diesel-powered vehicles from 1996 or newer or with a gross vehicle weight rating under 14,000 pounds

VIN inspection: Upon vehicle registration and renewal

Colorado

Emissions test: $15 to $25

VIN inspection: $25

Every two years for most vehicles, but yearly for model years 1981 and olderEmissions test: For gas vehicles at least seven years old with a model year of 1982 or newer), hybrid vehicles 8 years and older, and certain vehicles registered as a “collector’s item”
Connecticut

Emissions test: $20

VIN inspection: $10

Every two years

Emissions test: For gas and hybrid vehicles at least 3 years old (model year of 1996 and newer)

VIN inspection: For out-of-state vehicles before registration (otherwise done as part of emissions test)

DelawarePart of $40 registration feeEvery two yearsSafety and emissions test: For gas vehicles (model year of 1969 and newer) and diesel vehicles (model year of 1998 and newer)
FloridaN/AN/AVIN inspection and odometer verification: Required when registering an out-of-state vehicle
Georgia$25YearlyEmissions test: For gas vehicles, excluding brand-new vehicles up to 3 years old (model year of 1999 or newer)
HawaiiCost varies by inspectorYearlySafety test: For all vehicles
IdahoPart of a $45-to-$69 registration feeN/A

Emissions test: For some vehicles in Ada County

VIN inspection: Upon registration

IllinoisEmissions test and VIN inspection: $20Every two years, with certain exceptions

VIN inspection: Required prior to emissions test

Emissions test: All gas vehicles at least 4 years old (model year of 1996 or newer) in Chicago and Metro-East St. Louis

Indiana

Emissions test: Free, but inspectors may charge convenience fees

VIN inspection: Free

Every two years

Emissions test: For all vehicles in Lake and Porter counties (model year of 1975 and newer)

VIN inspection: For vehicles with out-of-state titles

IowaN/AN/AN/A
Kansas$20N/AVIN inspection: For vehicles with an out-of-state title, vehicles from a foreign country, and a vehicle assembled, reconstructed, reconstituted, or restored from one or more vehicles
Kentucky$5 to $15N/AVIN inspection: For out-of-state vehicles
Louisiana$18Yearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all gas vehicles at least 2 years old (model year 1980 or newer) in the five Baton Rouge parishes

Maine$12.50 to $18.50Yearly

Safety test: All vehicles

Emissions test: For vehicles registered in Cumberland County 

Maryland

Safety test: Cost varies by inspector

Emissions test: $10 to $14

Safety test: Prior to vehicle sale or transfer


 

Emissions test: 36 months for registration date for new vehicles

Safety test: For most vehicles prior to transfer of ownership

Emissions test: For all gas and hybrid vehicles at least 3 years old (1996 or newer)

Massachusetts$35Yearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For vehicles less than 15 years old

MichiganN/AN/AN/A
MinnesotaN/AN/AN/A
MississippiN/AN/AN/A
Missouri

Safety test: $12

Emissions test: $24

VIN inspection: Part of $14.50 title fee

Every two years

Safety test: For all vehicles at least 11 years old or with 150,000 miles

Emissions test: For most vehicles with over 40,000 miles in St. Louis, St. Charles, or Jefferson counties and St. Louis City

MontanaPart of $28-to-$217 registration fee N/AVIN inspection: For vehicles undergoing certain types of registrations, vehicles with out-of-state titles, and more
Nebraska$10N/AVIN inspection and odometer verification: For all out-of-state vehicles and salvaged vehicles
Nevada

Emissions testing: $56 to $93 (varies by county)

VIN inspection: Part of $33 registration fee

Yearly

Emissions test: For all gas- or diesel-powered vehicles (model year 1968 or newer) in Las Vegas and Reno metros at least 3 years old and hybrid vehicles at least 5 years old


 

New Hampshire$20 to $50 (varies by inspector)Yearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all vehicles less than 20 years old

New JerseyFree at state sites, but a fee varies by inspector at private state inspection stationsEvery two years for most vehicles; new vehicles receive a five-year inspectionEmissions test: For all gas vehicles (model 1996 or newer) and diesel vehicles (model 1996 or newer) that weigh less than 8,500 pounds
New Mexico

Emissions test: $15 to $25 plus tax (varies by inspector)

VIN inspection: Part of $26 to $140 registration fee

Every two years

Emissions test: All gas vehicles at least 4 years old (model year 1986 or newer) in Bernalillo County

VIN inspection: For all out-of-state vehicles

New York

Safety test: $10

Emissions test: $11 to $27

Yearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all vehicles between 2 and 25 years old that use gas or diesel (1999 or newer)

Both inspections must be done at the same time

North Carolina

Safety test: $13.60, plus $10 for tinted windows when applicable

Emissions test: $30

Yearly

Safety test: For all vehicles less than 35 years old

Emissions test: For all gas-powered vehicles (3 to 19 years old or with more than 70,000 miles) in 19 counties

North DakotaN/AN/AN/A
Ohio

Emission: Free

VIN: Varies

Every two years

Emissions test: For all vehicles 4 to 25 years old in seven counties and the Cleveland/Akron metro

VIN inspection: For all out-of-state vehicles

OklahomaN/AN/AN/A
Oregon

$15 to $25



 

Every two years

Emissions test: For all vehicles in Medford and Portland metropolitan areas

VIN inspection: For all out-of-state vehicles

PennsylvaniaVaries by inspectorYearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all gas vehicles at least 1 year old with more than 5,000 miles (model 1975 or newer) in certain regions, including South Central, Northern, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia

Rhode Island

Safety and emissions test: $55

VIN inspection: Varies by police department

Every two years

Safety test: For all vehicles at least 2 years old or with more than 24,000 miles

Emissions test: For all vehicles at least 2 years old (model 1996 and newer for gas vehicles and 1997 for diesel vehicles)

VIN inspection: For all out-of-state vehicles (model year 2001 and newer)

South CarolinaN/AN/AN/A
South DakotaN/AN/AN/A
TennesseeN/AN/AN/A
Texas$18.50 to $25.50Yearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all gas vehicles 2 to 24 years old in 17 countries

Utah

Emissions test: $15 to $35 (depends on inspector)

VIN inspection: Included in titling fee

Every two years

Emissions test: For all gas vehicles at least 6 years old (model year 1968 or newer) in Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, and Weber counties; diesel vehicles (model year 1998 or newer) in Utah county only

VIN inspection: For all out-of-state vehicles

VermontDepends on the inspectorYearly

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all gas vehicles 16 years old or newer

Virginia

Safety test: $20

Emissions test: $28

Safety test: Yearly

Emissions test: Every two years

Safety test: For all vehicles

Emissions test: For all gas vehicles less than 25 years old and all diesel vehicles (model years 1997 or newer) in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, and five northern Virginia cities

WashingtonN/AN/AVIN inspection: For salvage vehicles
Washington, D.C.N/AEvery two yearsAll vehicles need to pass federally mandated emissions inspections every two years
West Virginia$14.66YearlySafety test: For all vehicles
WisconsinEmission test: FreeEvery two yearsEmissions test: For all gas vehicles 3 years or older (model year 1996 or newer) and all diesel vehicles (model year 2007 or newer) in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee Racine, Washington, and Waukesha counties
WyomingN/AN/AN/A

Are vehicle inspections mandated by law?

U.S. states set their own vehicle inspection laws for regular passenger vehicles, so specific requirements, inspection fees, and frequency can vary widely. Several U.S. states, such as Alaska, don’t require any vehicle inspections.[1] Other states, like Rhode Island, require safety and vehicle emissions inspections, while some may only require VIN inspections.[2]

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General vehicle inspection requirements

Vehicle inspection guidelines can vary by the type of inspection, the state where you registered your car, and the region where you live. It's a good idea to check your state’s department (or bureau) of motor vehicles website if you need to know more about which laws apply to your vehicle.

Learn more about common vehicle inspection requirements for passenger cars below.

Age and mileage of the vehicle

Your vehicle’s age, model year, and mileage may determine if you need to complete any vehicle inspections. For example, Missouri vehicles at least 11 years old or with 150,000 miles or more must undergo a safety inspection.[3] In North Carolina, all gas vehicles between 3 and 20 years old or with more than 70,000 miles must undergo an emissions inspection in certain counties.[4]

Inspection frequency

Many states require annual inspection, such as New York and Pennsylvania.[5][6] Other states, like Oregon and New Mexico, only require inspections every two years.[7][8] And in some cases, the process of vehicle registration or other vehicle inspections includes VIN checks.

Key inspection areas

During a vehicle inspection, the inspector may check the following systems on your vehicle, depending on the type of inspection and your state’s regulations.

  • Engine and emission control systems: A technician will check your engine and related emissions control systems to ensure everything is functioning properly and safely.

  • Steering and suspension systems: An inspector will check your steering system to make sure that nothing is loose or worn. They should also check your shock absorbers for leaks or damage.

  • Braking systems: They’ll check your brake pads, rotors, and brake fluid, along with your emergency brake or parking brake, to make sure everything is functioning properly.

  • Tires and wheels: A technician will check your tire tread level and also look for other potential hazards like dry rot, bubbles, or loose bolts. They may also check the condition of your spare tire.

  • Electrical systems and lighting: Safety inspections check your exterior lights, including headlights, brake lights, taillights, turn signals, hazard lights, and license-plate lights, along with important electrical systems and wires.

  • Windshields and windows: A technician will assess your windshield for cracks, chips, and loose seals and your windows for potential obstructions like tints. They may also check your windshield wipers.

  • Body, chassis, and frame: Your inspector may inspect the vehicle’s frame for cracks, rusts, and other damage.

  • Fluids and lubricants: A technician may check the levels of various fluids, including your oil, transmission fluid, coolant, or power-steering fluid.

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN) and odometer verification: The inspector will check your vehicle’s unique VIN to verify ownership, along with the odometer to confirm mileage.

What Is a VIN?

What Is a VIN?

What to do if you fail an inspection

If your vehicle fails an annual safety inspection or smog check, you may have a time frame, such as 30 days, to get the necessary repairs or service before taking a second test. If it’s a simple fix, such as a headlight bulb that needs replacing, you’ll likely pass your retest.

Inspection failure due to more serious issues might make you eligible for an exception waiver, depending on your state’s laws.

Vehicle inspection FAQs

Find more information about vehicle inspection requirements below.

  • What is required for a Texas vehicle inspection?

    In Texas, all vehicles must get an annual vehicle safety inspection. Gas vehicles 2 to 24 years old must also get an emissions test in 17 Texas counties.[9]

  • What’s required for a North Carolina vehicle inspection?

    North Carolina requires yearly safety inspections for vehicles less than 35 years old. All gas vehicles between 3 and 20 years old with more than 70,000 miles must have annual emissions tests in 19 counties.

  • What do you need to get your car inspected in Pennsylvania?

    To get your car inspected in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to bring certain information and documents, including your vehicle registration card, proof of financial responsibility, proof of insurance, and a copy of your vehicle’s VIN authorized by an inspection mechanic, notary public, or issuing agent.

  • Are vehicle inspection requirements the same in every state or region?

    No. Vehicle inspection requirements vary widely by state, and regulations may even vary by county or city in some states.

Sources

  1. Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles. "Vehicle Inspection."
  2. Rhode Island Emissions and Safety Testing. "Frequently Asked Questions."
  3. Missouri Department of Revenue. "Motor Vehicle - Additional Help Resource."
  4. North Carolina Department of Transportation. "Emissions Inspections."
  5. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. "About New York State Inspections."
  6. Pennsylvania Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance. "Frequently Asked Questions: Emissions and Safety Inspection Program Changes."
  7. Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. "Vehicle Inspection."
  8. New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division. "Emission Testing."
  9. Texas Department of Public Safety. "Vehicle Inspection."
Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault

Sarah Archambault enjoys helping people figure out smarter ways to use their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans. She’s created and edited content for Credit Karma, Experian and Sound Dollar, along with banks, financial institutions, and insurance companies.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

Featured in

media logomedia logo
Konstantin Halachev
Data reviewed byKonstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
Headshot of Konstantin Halachev, VP of Engineering at Insurify
Konstantin HalachevVP of Engineering & Data Science
  • 7+ years experience in data analysis

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology

Konstantin has led data teams across multiple industries, including insurance, travel, and biology. He’s led Insurify’s engineering team for more than three years.

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