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How Long Does A Car Inspection Take?

If your vehicle is due for its inspection, you may be wondering how long it takes to complete. A car inspection is a very common practice and is required for most vehicle owners.

This article will show you exactly how long a car inspection normally takes along with some other important information. 

car mechanic inspecting vehicle

How Long Does A Car Inspection Take?

On average, a car inspection will take around 45 minutes to complete. This time can range anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on a few variables such as the age and condition of the vehicle, additional maintenance needed, and paperwork time which can add on an additional 10 minutes. You should plan to stay for 1 hour when your vehicle inspection is taking place. 

mechanic inspecting car tire

Why is a car inspection necessary?

A car inspection is designed to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive on the road. A car mechanic will check over your vehicle and perform several tests to make sure everything operates normally. This inspection will keep you and others on the road safe.

When is a car inspection required?

Depending on your location, you may or may not need to get a car inspection. If you live in a state or other area that doesn’t require one, it’s still a good idea to get a vehicle inspection for safety purposes. 

Certain states may require inspections more often than others. It’s also possible that certain states test for additional items such as an emissions test.

Some states may require a yearly inspection, while others are two years. Some areas may only require inspections based on the age of the vehicle and after a certain number of years.

So it’s important to check with the vehicle inspection regulations in your area ahead of time to determine what type of inspection is required and how often to complete them. 

Knowing the vehicle inspection laws in your location will ensure your car inspection goes smoothly.

mechanic holding light under car

What do I need to bring for a car inspection?

Once you have made an appointment for your vehicle’s inspection, you will need to bring the following documents with you.

  • Proof of insurance
  • Method of payment
  • Drivers license

Who is authorized to perform a car inspection?

Depending on your local laws, only a certified automobile mechanic can perform a car inspection. 

Most garages and car dealerships are certified to complete a vehicle inspection. Check with your local government to find a list of locations closest to you. 

If you live close to a garage or dealer, you can simply ask them if they are certified to perform these inspections. 

Some areas also allow an independent vehicle inspector to complete the inspection. You can hire them to perform the inspection privately. 

car mechanic holding laptop

What items are covered during a car inspection?

During the 45 minutes it takes to complete the inspection, the mechanic will check for many different things.

  • Overall condition of the vehicle 
  • Interior condition
  • Exterior condition for damages
  • Emissions test
  • Test drive

The most common items inspected on your vehicle include:

  • Tire condition
  • Brake condition
  • Body and frame condition
  • Windshield
  • Wipers
  • Horn
  • Lights
  • Seatbelts
  • Fluid leaks
  • Alignment
  • Exhaust
  • Battery
  • Suspension
brake inspection

What will fail a car inspection?

If any of the above items are deemed faulty, your vehicle can fail the inspection. Certain criteria must be met for a vehicle to pass. 

Common items that would cause a vehicle to fail the inspection include:

  • Tire wear
  • Windshield cracks
  • Lights not working
  • Holes in the body or frame

It’s also possible to fail an inspection if the following are deemed faulty:

  • Dirty air filters
  • Spark plugs need replacing
  • Gas tank leaks
  • Oxygen sensor malfunction
  • Check engine light
cracked car windshield

What makes a car inspection take longer than normal?

The most common reason for a can inspection to take longer than normal is if a certain item or items fails the inspection and repairs need to take place.

The person completing the inspection may be more thorough and take extra time. Some people are faster than others. 

Your vehicle may need extra attention if it is older or in poor condition and take longer to inspect overall.

How much does a car inspection cost?

The price of a car inspection varies from $25 to $250 depending on where you live, type of vehicle, type of tests required, and if the inspection is extensive or basic. 

For example, a basic car inspection in Texas will cost $25.50. In North Carolina, an inspection will cost you $30 with an emissions test. In California, an inspection could cost up to $250. 

How Long Does A Car Inspection Take?

Do all states in the USA require a car inspection?

No, not all states require a vehicle inspection. These include:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina

There are two states that require a car inspection under certain circumstances only. For example, vehicles with tinted windows. They are:

  • Michigan
  • Mississippi

Some states also only require a partial car inspection. Certain areas may only require a safety check with an emissions test every two years. 

In some cases, new vehicles, hybrids, and electric vehicles are exempt from certain inspections.

Out of state VIN inspections are required for the following states:

  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Wyoming

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