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Texas Vehicle Inspections – What You Need To Know

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By Johnny Bevers

To avoid being issued a ticket in Texas, you are required to have your vehicle inspected.  The inspection is a simple set of basic checks to ensure that your vehicle is in a road-worthy condition with all instruments working correctly.  The vehicle will also be checked to ensure that it is not emitting too much smoke.  An inspection is also required when you want to register your vehicle.

When you go for your Texas Vehicle Inspection, you will need to make sure that you have the following documents with you:

  • Liability insurance or at least proof that you have one, this can be from any current state.
  • Current and valid photo ID, if you are registering the vehicle for the first time you will need a photo ID in order to obtain your V1-30 green sheet.
  • Finally you must ensure that you have the payment, Texas law requires that the payment is made regardless of whether your vehicle passes or fails.  Official inspection stations typically accept cash, check, Visa and Master card.

Typical Vehicle Inspection Station In Texas

What to Expect

The total vehicle inspection time should last no more than 10 minutes. On arrival, all passengers need to get out of the vehicle so that the state inspector can perform a standard brake test.

Reasons for Inspection Failure

Most inspection failures can be avoided and the most common failure areas are, windshield wipers, brakes, bulbs including indicator, brake lights and headlights, parking brake and tires. The official Inspection will sell most of these items, but ensuring these are checked prior to your inspection will save you a lot of time and hassle.

What will be inspected?

In all vehicle inspections you should be aware that the following will definitely be under scrutiny so it is worth ensuring that they are in good working order prior to your inspection. These are the horn, windshield wipers, mirror, steering, seat belts, braking system, tires, wheel assembly, exhaust system, emission system, beam indicator, tail lights, stop lights, license plate lamp, rear red reflectors, turning lamps, head lamps, motor serial or vehicle identification number, window tinting or coating and gas caps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vehicle Inspections In Texas

There are many questions that cover the vast majority of things you need to know regarding the Texas Vehicle Inspection, for easy reference some of the most frequent are listed as information below:

Q.  What is ASM and why is it needed?  A.  An ASM test uses a dynamometer, to measure the emissions being produced under simulated driving conditions.  This is a cost effective way to get an accurate reading. If your vehicle fails this test it means that it has an excessive amount of Hydrocarbon, Carbon Monoxide or Oxides of Nitrogen.

Q. Will my vehicle pass inspection if the engine symbol lights are on?  A. The vehicle will not pass if it is 1996 or newer.  The engine lights indicate that an emissions control malfunction has been detected. For vehicles older than this an Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) test would have to be performed.

Q.  My ABS light is on; will that mean the vehicle fails inspection?  A.  Anti-lock (ABS) lamp or signal which is on or comes on during test will not mean that the vehicle fails the inspection.

Q.  Can I get an inspection if it is raining or snowing? A.  Yes, provided that the certified instructor feels that the conditions are safe and that the brakes can accurately be checked then it does not matter if it is wet or snowing, the only time when an inspection cannot be carried out due to weather is when the brake test areas are icy.

Q.  What is the maximum dark tint on windows for the vehicle to pass inspection?  A.  The vehicle tint law was raised in Sept 2009, and all vehicles must have at least 25% of light transmittance on the windows immediately to the right and left of the driver. Back and rear window tints are not tested.

Q.  Are seatbelts always a required item of inspection?  A.  Seatbelts are a necessity for the inspection and on those vehicles that have front seat belt anchorages as part of the manufacturer’s equipment. When doing the seatbelt check, front belts and anchorages are checked and inspected.

Q.  I am missing my rear mirror; will this mean a failure?  A.  Provided that the vehicle is equipped with one mirror located to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle this would pass the inspection.

Q.  My windshield is cracked; will my vehicle fail the inspection?  A.  The windshield is not part of the inspection; however the wiper blades must make proper contact with the windshield. Ensure that any cracks in the windshield do not cause the wiper blades to tear or that the crack affects the screen shape so that the wipers loose contact.

Q.  Why did my gas cap cause my car to fail the inspection?  A.  Every vehicle from 2 to 24 years old has to be tested to see whether the gas cap is defective or missing. Over a period of time some caps become defective and will need to be replaced.

Q.  What is the Inspection Grace Period? A.  You have a five day period from the time of inspection to get your inspection sticker. All inspection certificates expire on the last day of the month as displayed on the windshield. Therefore your inspection must take place before the 5th of the following month.

Q. Does Brake Check perform State Inspections in Texas?  A.  Most Brake Check locations can perform state inspections, but they’ve got to have a qualified individual on duty to perform those inspections.  It’s best to call ahead and schedule an appointment prior to showing up for your vehicle inspection.

If you are out of state when your vehicle inspection becomes due, you will be expected to follow the law of the state that you are in.  In general, states will honor the laws of other states, for example if a vehicle registered in Texas is in a state where they have their own inspection criteria, then they will normally accept the Texas registration.  Upon returning to Texas have the vehicle inspected within three days unless you are in possession of an inspection certificate that although issued elsewhere is valid in Texas.

The inspection cost will be determined by the county of registration and the type of inspection required.  Some vehicles will be required to have additional emissions testing therefore these will be more costly than the standard vehicle inspection.  Typical inspections cost between $15 and $20 dollars plus any repairs that might need to be made.

 

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  • Justin Douglas Hurt

    My back right window was smashed during a car break-in. I notice they don’t mention anything here about back side windows, will I still pass inspection?

    • average j

      Yes

  • Melissa Sanders

    my abs and brake light keep coming on, but my abs is working and my brakes are good – will this keep me from passing inspection?

  • F.Cuellar

    My vehicle failed inspection for a cracked tail light reflector,red portion.No part of the reflector was missing,just cracked.

    • average j

      The law states that it may not be cracked or damaged in any part that would allow it to emmit light.

  • In Texas, a state inspection is about $32-36.50. I wish $15.00-20.00.