Updated at: 21-05-2022 - By: Lucas

Before a new owner can register a new car, the car must pass a vehicle inspection. If you’re thinking about buying a new car, be ready to have it checked out by an official from the state where you live. The car must be checked out before you can buy it and drive it.

How long a car inspection takes depends on how new your car is, what kind of car it is, and where you live. Some states have inspection rules that are stricter than others.

What is involved in a car inspection?

Both exterior and interior status of the car

The process involves checking the parts of your car that can be seen. Here, the inspector looks at the headlights, taillights, suspension system, tyres, brakes, windshield, windshield wipers, horn, etc.

The inspector will also check out your car’s exhaust pipe, which is an important part. Sometimes the inspector takes a closer look and may check your clutch and handbrake as well. This process should take no more than 15 minutes if your inspector works hard.

You must take a road test

Most states make new cars go through a road test. The purpose makes sure that the engine is running right so that the people you are carrying are safe. The road test is also a chance to see how different parts work. It should be easy to use the emergency brake.

The inspector also looks at how the windshield wipers and dashboard lights work.

Some states no longer give driving tests. American states like Virginia are happy with a physical inspection if the parts are in good shape.

Emission check

To find out if your car passes inspection, the emission test is very important. Most states have strict rules about checking for emissions. If your car fails the inspection test, you won’t be able to get in it and drive away. The test shows if your car gives off dangerous fumes. Some exhaust emissions produce smog.

If you fail the effusion test, you can return a new car to the dealer where you bought it. But if it’s an old car, you should take it to a shop that fixes cars. Make sure you give them the inspector’s final report and let them fix the problems.

After the repairs are done, you should bring your car back for another check.


You will get a certification once your car is approved. Your car passed the inspection test, as shown by the certificate. The person doing the inspection will also give you a sticker to put on the windshield and licence plate of your car.

When you want to get approved for registration, you must have the certification. You also need it to get your licence renewed.

Reasons your car may fail an inspection

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Defective windshield wipers

Check that your wiper blades are working right according to the manual from the manufacturer. It seems like a small problem. But wipers help when the weather is bad and it’s hard to see. Safety rules must always be met by your car.


The brakes have to work all the time. Check to see if your brakes have enough fluid and if they work well. If you fail, you risk failing the inspection or putting your life in danger.

Problem with your tires

If your tyres are new, all you have to do is make sure they are at the right pressure. Check the sides of old cars to make sure they don’t have any cracks or sagging. Check the tyre pressure according to what the car’s maker says to do. Tires with scuffs, tears, or flat spots need to be replaced before your car can be inspected.

Make sure that all of your lights work well. Even the light that says “Check Engine.” Check all of the light bulbs inside and outside. If your car has just one broken light bulb, the person doing the inspection will not like how safe it is.

Reasons why cars must undergo inspection tests

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The state makes it a requirement that the inspection be done. It’s not up to you. The rules are set by the government, and your car must meet them all. If your car doesn’t pass inspection, you are breaking the law if you drive it. All states have to follow the rules that policymakers set for emissions.

When you want to change who owns the car, you also have to get it inspected. The state wants the new owner to drive a car that is safe for the road.

When you buy a new car, you also have to get it checked out. In two years, there will be another check. Some states do inspections once a year to make sure that all cars on the road are safe to drive.

How should you prepare for a car inspection?

Most people think that inspections are boring and take too much time. You need to get your car ready for the day so you don’t waste time or fail the test.

You should always assume that there will be other cars that day that need to pass inspection. So, make sure everything is in order. Bring along any paperwork you might need. Get there early for your meeting.

Take a look at this list of things you might need.

Payment. You can pay for the inspection with cash or a credit card. It costs money. If you don’t know how much an inspection costs, ask your car dealer.

Insurance payment proof. Just bringing the insurance card is not enough. The person in charge of the inspection may want to know more about the coverage.

Proof of who you are. At least bring two IDs with you. It can be your driver’s licence, state ID, or passport.


It is impossible to know how long an inspection will take. It could take up to 1-2 hours. It depends on what kind of car you have. It also depends on the person who is checking you in. Getting through the paperwork and the road test takes time.

To make sure you don’t miss your appointment, get there 15 minutes early. Come early so you can clear your schedule quickly in case you have other appointments.

After the inspection, have your car serviced regularly to make sure it stays in great shape. Drive safe.