Find Out About Car Inspection Requirements Per State

car inspection
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Due to growing concern over the impact of vehicles on our environment, some states have made it mandatory for motorists to perform car inspection at regular intervals.

For this reason, it is necessary to ensure that you understand and comply with these requirements in your state. The following is a list of inspection requirements for each of the 50 states in the United States.

Types Of Car Inspection

There are three basic types of car inspection that you might have to undergo depending on the requirements in your state. They are:

  • VIN Inspection: The aim of this inspection is to verify that the VIN on your car matches your ownership document.
  • Safety Inspection: Here, different systems in the vehicles are checked to ensure that it conforms to safety regulations.
  • Emissions Inspection: Here, exhaust fumes from the engine are checked against set benchmarks to ensure that your car does not excessively pollute the environment.

Learn About VIN Inspections

The following states have mandatory VIN inspections:

Alabama

In this state, you will only be required to do a safety inspection on your car when you transfer ownership after selling the car. Inspection is also necessary when registering your new car for the first time.

Alaska

As of March 2012, emissions inspections are no longer a requirement in this state.

Arizona

Emissions car inspection is required biennially for residents of Phoenix and Tucson.

Arkansas

Although there are no regular car inspection requirements in Arkansas, the state strongly encourages its population to assess their own vehicles for pollutants.

California

In California, emissions inspection will depend on the area you live in. To find out if you need to schedule an inspection, simply run a search using your ZIP code. All out-of-state vehicles have to undergo emissions inspection regardless of whether the inspection was done on the car in the previous state. VIN car inspection is mandatory when registering a vehicle from a different state.

If your ZIP code is in the 41 counties where car inspection is mandatory, Car inspection is mandatory once every two years. Hybrids, electric vehicles, motorcycles, trailers, natural-gas-powered vehicles heavier than 14,000 pounds, diesel-powered vehicles made before 1997, vehicles under 6 years old, and all vehicles made before 1975 are exempt.

Colorado

In Colorado, VIN car inspection is mandatory when registering a vehicle from a different state. A biennial emissions inspection is also mandatory with an exception of motorcycles, electric vehicles, farm vehicles, vehicles older than 1975, or cars under 7 years old. This requirement only applies to residents of Denver, Boulder, Douglas, Broomfield, Jefferson, and some areas in Larimer, Adams, Arapahoe and Weld counties.

Connecticut

Here, car inspection is required once every two years and it must be done in an authorized facility. The tests will vary depending on your vehicle and there are late fees if it is not done on time. VIN inspection is done when registering a car from outside the state.

Delaware

Cars less than 6 years old do not need to undergo any inspection. Collectors’ cars made before 1967 don’t need emissions testing. The rest of the cars have to undergo safety and emissions inspection once every two years.

Florida

Emissions testing is no longer a requirement in Florida, but VIN inspections are necessary when registering an out-of-state vehicle.

Georgia

Motorists who live in some counties in Atlanta’s metropolitan have to face annual emission inspection. Cars less than 4 years old and those older than 25 years are exempt. Diesel-powered vehicles, RVs, motorcycles, and motorhomes are also exempt.

Hawaii

Buy a new car and you won’t have to worry about inspection for two years. The rest have to undergo safety inspection annually in authorized stations.

Idaho

Residents of Canyon and Ada counties in Idaho have to do emissions inspection once every two years. VIN car inspection is mandatory when registering a vehicle from a different state.

Illinois

Car inspection has is mandatory biennially on in a number of ZIP codes. In the inspections, emissions, safety, and the VIN are checked. Exempt vehicles include cars newer than four years, diesel-powered cars, models made in 1967 or earlier, electric vehicles, and vehicles exclusively used in shows, parades, sports, and races. Custom vehicles and street rods also get special rules.

Indiana

Car inspection on emissions is done on Porter County and Lake County once every two years. This inspection is mandatory for cars made after 1976 with a weight of 9,000 pounds. Out-of-state vehicles have to face VIN inspection during registration.

Iowa

There are no car inspection requirements in Iowa.

Kansas

Here, only out-of-state vehicles have to face VIN inspections during registration.

Kentucky

VIN car inspection is mandatory when registering a new vehicle.

Louisiana

Annual safety inspection in Louisiana is mandatory unless you are willing to pay double to get a sticker that will keep your car on the roads for two years. Motorists in Baton Rouge metro parishes also have to face annual emissions inspection.

Maine

Residents of Cumberland County have to face annual emissions inspection. For motorists in the rest of the state, the only car inspection necessary is an annual safety inspection.

Maryland

Residents of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Calvert County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Charles County, Frederick County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County and Washington County in Maryland have to conduct emissions inspection on their cars once every two years.

These inspections are mandatory unless you own a car made in 1976 or earlier, electric or diesel-powered cars, farm vehicles, motorcycles, or historic vehicles. A safety inspection is also required when transferring ownership.

Massachusetts

Annual safety and emissions inspections are required for all cars in this state.

Michigan

There are no specific requirements for car inspection in this state.

Minnesota

There are no car inspection requirements for non-commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles have to undergo an annual inspection.

Mississippi

Until 2015, the only requirement was a five-dollar sticker. Today, you will be required to do car inspection only if your car has tinted windows.

Missouri

Safety car inspection is required once every two years on cars older than 5 years unless they have historical plates. An emission test is also required for motorists living in St. Louis City and County, Jefferson County, Franklin County, and St. Charles County.

Montana

Being a predominantly rural state, there are no inspection requirements in Montana.

Nebraska

Here, out-of-state vehicles have to face safety and VIN inspections with an exception of motorboats, trailers and salvaged vehicles.

Nevada

VIN car inspection is mandatory when registering a vehicle from a different state. Emissions inspections are required for residents of Las Vegas and Reno. Cars made in 1968 and earlier years, motorcycles, cars two years and younger, and hybrids registered less than five years ago are exempt.

New Hampshire

Cars manufactured after 1995 require annual emissions inspection. There is also a requirement for an annual safety inspection on the owner’s birthday month.

New Jersey

Since August 2010, only commercial vehicles have to undergo annual safety inspections. Emissions inspections are done once every two years. Motorcycles, historic and collector vehicles, farm vehicles, mopeds, trailers, new vehicles in their first five years of registration and some diesel-powered vehicles don’t need an inspection.

New Mexico

VIN car inspection is mandatory when registering a vehicle from a different state. Residents of Bernalillo County also need an emissions inspection once every two years except for vehicles made in 1982 or before, electric and diesel cars.

New York

Unless you own a car that’s older than 26 years old or you are in the first two years of your car’s registration, safety and emissions inspection is mandatory annually.

North Carolina

Safety car inspection is required annually on all models that are less than 35 years old. Residents of these 48 counties have to do an emissions test. Exempt cars include models made in 1995 or earlier years, farm vehicles, diesel-powered cars, and cars that are less than three years old with less than 70,000 miles subject to these conditions.

North Dakota

There are no car inspection requirements here.

Ohio

The emissions inspection is required in Cleveland metropolitan areas for vehicles made within the past four years and 25 years older.

Oklahoma

Here only out-of-state vehicles have to face VIN car inspection during registration.

Oregon

In Oregon, out-of-state vehicles face VIN inspection during registration. The emissions inspection is also mandatory on cars made after 1975 in Portland and the Medford metropolitan region.

Pennsylvania

Here, residents of 25 specific counties have to take their cars for emissions inspection annually. Commercial vehicles with a vehicle weight of over 17,000 pounds need a biannual inspection. The only cars exempt from emissions inspections are diesel-powered vehicles and antiques. Safety inspections (that include VIN inspection) are also done annually.

Rhode Island

Out-of-state vehicles have to undergo VIN inspection during registration. Safety and emissions inspections are done once every two years. Antiques do not need emissions inspection, but they still need safety inspection.

South Carolina

No car inspection is required here.

South Dakota

No emission inspections are necessary here.

Tennessee

Annual emissions tests are mandatory for residents of Hamilton, Sumner, Rutherford, Williamson, Wilson, and Davidson counties. Motorcycles, vehicles made in 1975 and earlier years, new vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles with a vehicle weight higher than 10,500 pounds are exempt from this car inspection.

Texas

Annual emission inspection is required in these counties:

  • Brazoria
  • Fort Bend
  • Galveston
  • Harris
  • Montgomery
  • Collin
  • Dallas
  • Denton
  • Ellis
  • Johnson
  • Kaufman
  • Parker
  • Rockwall
  • Tarrant
  • Travis
  • Williamson
  • El Paso

In addition, an annual safety inspection is mandatory throughout the state. Vehicles older than 25 years, diesel-powered vehicles and motorcycles are exempt. New cars will not need any inspections for the first two years.

Utah

New cars have to undergo safety inspection after the first four, eight and ten years. After these three first inspections, safety tests are done every year. Emission inspections are done once every 2 years for the first 6 years. After these three inspections, emission tests have to be done annually. Emission tests are required in Davis, Cache, Salt Lake, Weber, and Utah counties. Diesel-powered vehicles and all cars made in 1967 and earlier years are exempt.

Vermont

Safety inspections are done annually while emission inspections are done annually on cars made after 1995. VIN inspections are done on all out-of-state vehicles during registration.

Virginia

The biennial emissions inspection is mandatory in Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas Park, Prince William, Stafford, and Loudoun. Vehicles with valid inspection stickers from a different state, motorcycles, electric, solar and natural-gas-powered vehicles, qualified hybrids, vehicles older than 25 years and all vehicles with a weight of 10,000 pounds or more are exempt.

Washington

Out-of-state vehicles have to go through VIN inspection during registration. The emissions inspection is done in some areas of King, Clark, Spokane Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Diesel-powered vehicles with a weight lower than 6,001 pounds or those made after 2006, some hybrids, motorcycles, and vehicles made after 2009 are exempt.

West Virginia

In West Virginia, safety inspections are done every year. Vehicles with valid inspection stickers from Louisiana, New York, Missouri, Utah, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Texas will not need another one until the old ones expire.

Wisconsin

Non-diesel-powered vehicles made in 1996 and later years that are OBDII compliant in Milwaukee, Kenosha, Washington, Racine, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Waukesha counties have to take their cars for emissions inspection once every two years.

Wyoming

Here only a VIN inspection will be required for out-of-state vehicles.