How to Pass a State Vehicle Inspection

Think about treating your car’s health similarly to how you treat your own health. No one enjoys going to the doctor (or the repair shop), but preventative maintenance is the key to longevity. If you give your car the attention it needs when it’s giving you signs that something isn’t quite right, then you’ll avoid a costly repair or vehicle inspection failure further down the road. Each vehicle comes with OEM-recommended scheduled maintenance guidelines, so if you stick to those service intervals, you’re giving your car the TLC it needs and deserves and setting it up for a healthy, happy life.

Depending on which state you live in, you may have to get a vehicle safety inspection and emissions or smog inspection yearly or biennially. It might seem like a chore to jump through these hoops each year, but inspections could be saving your life on the road and reducing your carbon footprint.

If you want to set yourself up for success on inspection day, follow these tips:

Be Mindful of Tire Wear and Tear
– Take a close look at the wear indicator bar on your tires. If the tread is worn down to that point or further, you will need to invest in new tires before your inspection. If you see that your car’s front tires are wearing unevenly, it might be time for a wheel alignment.
– Check for dry rotting and cracks on tire tread and sidewall, which can cause a blowout.

No Mismatching Allowed
– Make sure your tires are all the same size and style. Even if the tread is in good condition, mismatching sizes could lead to you flunking the test.

Check Your Spare
– If your car has a spare, make sure it’s in good condition. However, most European cars are now skipping the spare and equipping cars with run-flat tires, so you may not need to worry about a spare.

Are the Lights On?
– Working headlights are an obvious one, but don’t forget to check ALL the lights – taillights, high beams, turn signals, brake lights, license plate bulbs, backup lights, side lights and hazard flashers. Being visible on the road is a big safety priority. Plus, keeping all your lights in working condition can save you from getting a ticket.

Pump the Brakes
– Have a local mechanic inspect your brake pads or shoes for wear, look for leaks and check the rotors or drums for wear, cracks and warpage.
– Enable the parking brake and put the car in gear to see if it stays in place. The inspector will check this as well.

Steer Clear of Trouble
– Check the condition of the belt that runs the power steering pump (if it has one).
– If the inspector finds any failing or loose parts in your car’s steering system, they will let you know what needs to be fixed, or you can take it to your mechanic for a quick check before the test.

Click it or Ticket
– You should already know if your driver’s seatbelt is functional and accessible, but check all other seatbelts as well. Look for any fraying.

Fix Windshield Cracks, Chips and Loose Seals
– It’s crucial that nothing impairs your vision on the road. Comprehensive coverage on a car insurance policy may help pay to repair or replace your windshield if it’s cracked or shattered by a rock. Full glass coverage may also be available.

Ineffective Wiper Blades
– Since they’re made out of rubber, wiper blades can crack and tear, so they need to be replaced regularly. If your wipers are heavily worn, they will struggle to do their job in removing rain, snow, sleet or mud.

Don’t Ignore Your Check Engine Light
– Your local mechanic can easily diagnose the reason for your check engine light. You will need to a full drive cycle so that all eight internal monitors have a status of “Ready”   before inspection. Drive cycles vary by manufacturer, but a good rule of thumb is a minimum 100 miles driven after the check engine light has been repaired.

Recently Replaced your Battery?
– Replacing your car battery wipes the computer memory, so you will need to do a full drive cycle before inspection, just like after your check engine light is repaired.

Use Your Five Senses
– Do you smell gasoline? If so, you better check your fuel lines for leaks.
– Is your muffler scraping the ground? Are there holes in the floor of your car letting in dangerous exhaust? You shouldn’t wait for inspection day to get this fixed.
– Is your car horn working?
– Can you open and close all doors/trunk (and will they stay closed while driving) without error?
– Are your airbag system lights (SRS) staying on after startup? They should turn off right after startup.

If you have an issue that needs repair before inspection day, you can use Openbay to book now. We make car care simple, providing you with multiple quotes from nearby mechanics, customer reviews and a quick way to book and pay for service.

Now that you’re ready to pass your inspection with flying colors, schedule your inspection at the click of a button with Openbay.

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