get car inspected

Why Is It Important to Get a Car Inspected?

Making sure your car receives routine inspections is one of the best things you can do to ensure the longevity and safety of your vehicle. We all know it’s essential to do regular maintenance like oil changes or tire rotations, but what is the importance and value behind having inspections done as well?

Getting your car inspected is vital to ensure everything is operating smoothly and to help diagnose issues that could arise. While inspections are meant to make sure the vehicle is currently safe, they also help prevent future problems. Think of your car inspection like an annual physical – it’s all about maintaining health.

Many states have their own rules and regulations regarding inspections. So you will always want to check with your state to ensure you are keeping up with their guidelines for inspections.

What do They Check When They do a Car Inspection?

Your safety and the safety of those on the road around you are the most important things to consider in your car ownership. Inspections are intended to check on everything that will help keep you and those sharing the road with you safe.

All the things checked in inspections are also things that are prone to police inspections if you were to be pulled over. This is where your state’s laws and regulations will come into play.

New York will have different guidelines than California or Florida. There are basic rules that most states abide by, but always be careful to make sure you fully understand your state’s specific regulations.

According to The Drive, only 17 states currently require an annual safety inspection. While 31 states only require periodic emissions inspections.

If you are pulled over, police can check for and give citations for the following:

  • Brake lights
  • Headlights
  • Turn signals
  • Taillights
  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Exhaust systems
  • Tires
  • The overall health of the car
  • Noise and muffler issues

These are all things to keep in mind when getting an inspection. A police officer checking for those items is done for the same reason that inspections will check for – safety.

Understanding that in many cases, your mechanic’s inspection will align with many of the same things that a police officer may inspect is a great place to start. These are all items that concern not only safety but also proper communication with other drivers and keeping residential neighborhoods free of noise pollution as well as emissions pollution.

The 5 Most Important Things Checked During a Car Inspection

While the overall inspection is crucial for so many reasons, there are typically going to be a select few items that are going to be at the top of the priority list.


Checking the brakes should be a mandatory part of any car inspection. Many times this inspection will help detect not only current problems but also help prevent a future issue.

Many times, a car owner will wait too long to have their brakes attended to. This can not only become dangerous for the functionality of the vehicle but also the efficiency and health of the car.

They will typically inspect the brakes themselves, the brake pads, and brake fluid. Any of these can lead to a less effective braking mechanism and future problems for the vehicle if not attended to.

Fuel Systems

Fuel lines are not something you want to mess around with for obvious reasons. A leak or blockage in fuel lines can be catastrophic. The rubber hoses in fuel lines can become cracked with age. And if you are in an area with inclement weather, steel lines can even become rusted over and cause a significant problem.

In an inspection, they will check each part of the fuel system for efficiency in passing the fuel through its lines as well as the integrity of all hoses and individual pieces.

If you smell gas strongly from your car, there is a chance it could be from a leak in one of the hoses. But a regular inspection to check on the quality of the tubes will help prevent that leak from ever happening.

If any tubes seem to be wearing down or appear fragile, it will be recommended to replace them before it gets any worse.

Tires and Wheels

Something that is often overlooked by car owners is the thread on the tires. We will remember to check the pressure and do an occasional check to ensure nothing has punctured or damaged the tires in any way. But the thread is a significant factor in inspections of tires.

When the thread gets too low, the traction becomes almost nonexistent. This can be dangerous on a dry road, but in rainy or icy conditions, it is hazardous. This is why many cold-weather climates are more particular and stricter in their inspection laws and regulations.

The wheels will also be inspected for their integrity. They will be checked for any sort of corrosion or cracks. The tires will also need to be checked for rotting or cracking of any kind.

Exhaust and Emissions

States with significant pollution issues due to the number of cars on the road, such as California, will typically be more rigid in their laws regarding emissions standards. The inspections that take place for exhaust and emissions are to help regulate air quality.

But they are extremely important for your immediate safety as well. If these systems are not properly maintained, carbon monoxide, which is poisonous, can easily leak into the passenger compartment.

They will test for functionality and ensure the quality of the systems to make sure that it will be capable of doing its job. If there are any blockages or cracks, there may need to be replacements or cleanings to help the system run more efficiently.

Engine Compartment

Oil leaks, similar to fuel leaks, can be very dangerous if they go undetected. The inspection will check for oil leaks in the engine and transmission. Leaks in the transmission can be especially dangerous and lead to fires far too easily.

Those oil leaks may land on a hot exhaust system, which is where many of those oil-related fires will begin.

The inspection will thoroughly look over the entire engine compartment and its components to make sure there are no leaks, cracks, or early corrosion that could lead to leaks.

How Often Should You Get Your Car Checked Out?

This question may already be answered by your state’s regulations as an absolute bare minimum for when you need an inspection. These will typically be on an annual basis.

But cars should have certain elements checked more frequently than that as well. Having an inspection done of the basic elements like the functions of a car battery when you get your oil changes, are a great way to ensure your car is getting the maintenance that it needs.

Depending on how frequently you drive and how many miles you put on your car, this will typically be every 3-6 months. It may also depend on the type of oil used, as synthetic oil will go longer between oil changes.

This is a simple and effective way to always make sure your vehicle is in good working shape. Your car is already in the shop, and it has a somewhat set schedule that you already need to stick to. Instead of worrying about a bunch of additional appointments and schedules, just have your mechanic give a basic checkup when you are in for an oil change. And an even more convenient way to get your car checked out, is finding a “mobile mechanic near me.”

Most garages and dealerships will offer this as a courtesy, anyway. While it may not go too in-depth, these will typically at least include:

  • Lights
  • Turn signals
  • Windshield wiper functionality
  • Basic fluid checks
  • Brakes

This is not only a time to get a nice little checkup for your car, but also a way for the garage to possible sell you something. So they will be just as eager as you are to get that checkup and see if anything is needed.

If you put your car through extreme conditions and weather, you may want to consider more frequent inspections than if you are in a dry weather climate and rarely drive. Much of this schedule will have to do with your personal use and how intense it is.

If you plan on driving your car on a trip, you’ll definitely want to make sure you do a trip inspection report. This will help you check off everything on the list to make sure your car runs smoothly the entire trip.

What Can Cause a Car to Fail Inspection?

There are a wide variety of things that can cause a car to fail an inspection. But the main thing to remember is that a failed inspection means there is something wrong that could potentially be dangerous.

This is another time when your state may have different regulations than others, so you will want to check with your local DMV for any specifics that will apply to you.

There will typically be minimum standards that need to be met for functionality and your vehicle’s capability. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is something catastrophically wrong with your vehicle. It could be something minor, but that could lead to something bigger.

Here are some of the most common causes for vehicles to not pass an inspection:

  1. Exhaust Gas Recirculation malfunction
  2. Damaged sparkplugs
  3. Brakes not functioning at a high enough percentage
  4. Leaks or corrosion in any major components
  5. Lights that have blown
  6. Warning lights on your dash panel

Many times, the things that will cause a failed inspection are quite minor. But they are always things that could lead to a bigger issue that causes safety concerns.

What Do I Do if My Car Won’t Pass Inspection?

If your car won’t pass an inspection, you have a few different options. It will depend on what the issue is. If it is a simple car light being out or something you can replace, you can speak with the garage about their costs and fees to have it fixed.

But sometimes it can be more intricate than that. Sometimes it even takes the garage awhile to figure out exactly what is causing an issue. Once it is diagnosed, you can decide the best course of action.

In some cases, with older cars, it may be as extreme as needing to sell the car and get a new one. This is typically only going to be the case with a very old car that simply has too many issues to be deemed safe to be on the roads.

Typically, replacement of items or repairs can make your car eligible to be passed for inspection. Depending on your state, there may also be laws regarding where you can get your inspections. If you fail at a specific garage, you may need to go back to that garage after you make the adjustments.

Many states will ban you from going to another garage, for fears of finding a way around getting something fixed and getting another garage to pass you.

Getting Your Car Inspected

At the end of the day, car inspections are there for your safety and the safety of everyone on the road around you. Inspections can also help you prevent a situation where your car breaks down on the side of the road. So, maintaining a healthy car will not only keep you safe, but it will help save you money and headaches down the line. Inspections help you prevent costly issues that can quickly snowball.

Always check with local state regulations and plan to have your car inspected when it is in for oil changes, or at the very least, done on an annual basis to ensure the safety and functionality of the vehicle. And if you are ever in a situation where you need roadside assistance, check out the 5 Best Roadside Assistance Services that could help you.