How Long Does a Vehicle Inspection Take

How Long Does a Vehicle Inspection Take?

At some point in time, we all need to take our vehicles to get inspected. In some states, that time comes once a year, and depending on the state of your vehicle, the whole experience might fill you with dread. After all, we’re all a little wary of what a qualified mechanic might find when underneath our hood. Bad news may mean costly repairs, more time taken out of your day, or worse: you will no longer be able to drive your vehicle.

A vehicle safety inspection appointment can take between 20 to 30 minutes and several hours. It all depends on how stringent your state laws are regarding what makes a motor vehicle safe for driving. Some states, surprisingly, don’t require vehicle inspections. However, it’s still a good idea to get your vehicle checked out every so often by someone who knows a thing or two about cars. Not only can catching a problem early save you time and money – it could save your life!

What Do They Check for in a Vehicle Inspection?

What Do They Check for in a Vehicle Inspection

In the most comprehensive type of car inspection, certified professionals look at several aspects of your automobile to ensure it can run safely.

You can expect the following during the vehicle inspection process:

  • Documentation is reviewed
  • A visual inspection is conducted
  • The vehicle’s mechanics and electrical system are inspected
  • The car’s emissions are tested to ensure they’re legally compliant with state regulations
  • The car undergoes a road test

Anything of note that does not meet inspection requirements will be recorded and related to you. All in all, the entire process can take up to several hours to complete.

Mechanics look for anything that could be deemed unsafe for you or other drivers. A cracked windshield is one example – if hit by a rock thrown up by another car’s tire, a cracked windshield could break, causing an accident. Your mechanic might also check your vehicle’s seat belts. Faulty parts are another obvious thing that mechanics look for – a battery leaking corrosive acid could cause other parts in your vehicle to fail or harm you outright.

Finally, vehicular damage is a big concern that mechanics will look for as part of their vehicle inspection report. A rusted subframe, cracked chassis, or any other kind of flaw in your vehicle’s structural integrity could make your vehicle unlikely to survive even a minor accident. This not only endangers your life but the lives of your passengers and other drivers. Below are some procedures you can expect to transpire at your vehicle inspection.

Document Review

You should provide specific documentation proving that you own your vehicle when you bring it in for an inspection. While it might seem silly (after all, who brings in a stolen car to be inspected?), it’s required by some states to prevent fraud. And besides, even a car thief might want to be sure they’re not driving a bucket of bolts that’ll break down when they start pushing 70 miles per hour on the freeway.

Emissions Testing

Depending on your state, you might need to have your vehicle undergo an emissions test. This is required by states like Pennsylvania, which aim to reduce harmful vehicle emissions. A vehicle with a faulty exhaust system or another internal issue might emit toxins into the air. This harms the environment and could also prove harmful to you, your family, or any animals you own. This is especially true if you warm up your car in your attached garage.

Even in states that mandate emission testing, not all cars always need to be tested. To use the example of Pennsylvania again, cars older than 1974 aren’t subjected to emissions testing. Many states have rules like this about older motor vehicles. New Hampshire is another – cars older than 20 years aren’t required to have their emissions tested.

The Road Test

The road test can take fifteen to thirty minutes to complete. Your mechanic will want to see how your vehicle responds to certain driving circumstances. These include rapid shifts in speed, sudden turns, braking, climbing uphill, backing up, driving over bumpy road surfaces, and how your vehicle responds can tell a knowledgeable mechanic quite a lot about the state of your vehicle. Any squeaking parts, warning signs, or uncomfortable rattles could clue them into a present or future problem with your vehicle.

Do I Really Need to Get My Vehicle Inspected?

Do I Really Need to Get My Vehicle Inspected

If you live in a state requiring you to have an auto inspection sticker posted in a visible place on your vehicle, then yes, a vehicle owner must get an annual inspection. Otherwise, you may get pulled over, fined, or even have your vehicle towed if you’re found to be driving an uninspected vehicle. And again, even if you live in a state that doesn’t require a car inspection, it’s still a good idea to err on the safe side of things. Unless you’re a certified mechanic, how could you be sure that everything is in tip-top shape?

There is a growing argument that states shouldn’t require annual vehicle inspections. At this point, there are only 12 that do. The argument against the practice is that it’s a pointless expenditure, as anyone would bring their cars to a mechanic if they had a problem. State governments that mandate inspections argue that people might not get their vehicles inspected due to negligence or ignorance, which could prove unsafe to the general population.

Good Luck At Your Next Inspection

If you’re going to be getting your vehicle inspected anytime soon, we wish you luck and hope it doesn’t bring any bad news. No one wants to hear that they must replace an alternator or get new brake pads. However, if you get news that you could’ve been injured by something in your vehicle that you didn’t know about, then those few hundred dollars you spend might prove worth it!

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