How much does a car inspection cost?

A routine car inspection costs between $150 and $250. Many states and counties require drivers to have their cars inspected to ensure they meet safety and/or emissions requirements. Typically, drivers can decide what mechanic or dealership to bring their car to for an inspection. If your car fails an inspection, you'll want to have it repaired and retested as soon as possible to avoid a fine.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
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UPDATED: Jan 10, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Car inspections typically cost between $150 and $250
  • Your state may require you to have your car inspected to ensure it meets safety and/or emissions requirements
  • When and how often your car needs to be inspected mostly depends on your state and county

Routine car inspections are required in many states. Based on your state’s laws, you may have to pay for an inspection whenever you purchase a car or after a certain amount of time has passed.

In some cases, auto insurance companies may also require you to have your car inspected. You could even be denied insurance coverage until your car passes an inspection.

While car inspections aren’t very expensive, knowing what to expect and how to best prepare for them can save you a considerable amount over time. This guide will tell you how much a car inspection costs and a lot more.

Once you know the cost of having your car inspected, enter your ZIP code in our free online tool to compare auto insurance rates and find affordable coverage options.

How much will a typical car inspection cost?

A routine state car inspection will cost you between $150 and $250. Feel free to compare different mechanics and dealerships when you need an inspection, as most have the tools and training needed for inspections required by your state.

In terms of what to expect, a vehicle inspection typically covers some or all of the following:

  • Brakes
  • Exhaust
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • Alignment

What happens after your car fails an inspection?

Failing a car inspection can result in a number of temporary restrictions. In most states, a car that has failed an inspection can’t be sold until it’s repaired and retested. Likewise, you may be unable to renew your auto insurance policy until your car passes.

If your car fails an inspection, you’ll need to have your vehicle fixed within two weeks to a month (depending on your state) or pay a fine. Ensure that the mechanic or dealership that inspected your vehicle provides you with a detailed report as to why your car failed an inspection, so that you have the option of taking your car to another repair service.

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When are you required to have a car inspection?

Whether or not you need to have your vehicle inspected before purchasing an auto insurance policy will depend on the state in which you reside and the auto insurance company from which you’re purchasing a policy.

It’s not uncommon for your auto insurance company to request an inspection if you’re trying to purchase an expensive coverage option, or if you have recently purchased a used vehicle.

Even if your state and auto insurance company don’t require a car inspection, you may still benefit from bringing your car to a dealership or mechanic. In the event that you get into an accident or otherwise need to file a claim, proof that your vehicle was recently inspected can simplify the auto insurance claim process.

How do you find out if your car needs to be inspected?

You can determine if your car needs an inspection through your state’s DMV or equivalent. All you should need is your vehicle’s make, model, and year to find out if your vehicle requires an inspection.

Regarding where you can go for an inspection, most mechanics and dealerships have the tools and expertise needed for routine safety inspections and emissions tests. That said, your state may have a list of approved locations that you’ll need to review before deciding where to go for your car inspection.

You may also want to contact a mechanic — or perform some basic safety checks yourself — prior to the inspection. This way, you can determine if your car needs any repairs and reduce the risk of failing the inspection.

Which states require car inspections?

The Miley Legal Group has created a list of car inspection requirements per state. The table below provides an overview of these requirements.

StateAre car inspections required?When are car inspections required?Is a VIN car inspection required for out-of-state vehicle registration?
ALYesBefore registering a new car; prior to transfers of ownershipNo
AZYesEmissions inspection required every two years in certain metro areas; out-of-state vehicles require inspectionNo
CAYesSmog checks are required every two years with exceptions for certain vehiclesYes
COYesSome counties in Colorado require smog inspections with exceptions for certain vehiclesNo
CTYesCommercial vehicles are required to be inspected for safetyYes
DEYesVehicles that are older than seven years need to be inspected every two yearsNo
GAYesCertain counties require an annual emissions inspection with exemptions for certain vehiclesNo
HIYesVehicles older than two years require an annual inspectionNo
IDYesCertain counties require an emissions test every two yearsYes
ILYesEmissions testing is required in the Chicago metro areaNo
INYesCertain counties require an emissions test every two yearsYes
LAYesAnnual inspections are required; residents can pay double so they only need an inspection once every two yearsNo
MEYesAnnual safety inspections; annual emissions tests are required in some countiesNo
MDYesPrior to transfers of ownershipNo
MAYesAnnual safety inspections; annual emissions test for some vehiclesNo
MSYesOnly vehicles with tinted windows require safety inspectionsNo
MOYesSafety inspections for vehicles over 10 years old; certain counties require emissions testsNo
NEYesOut-of-state vehicles require inspectionYes
NVYesEmissions tests in Reno and Las VegasYes
NHYesTransfer of ownership; cars made after 1996 require emissions testsNo
NJYesInspection every two years; inspection every five years for new vehiclesNo
NMYesEmissions test in certain countiesYes
NYYesSafety and emissions inspection every year; transfer of ownershipNo
NCYes Safety inspections for vehicles newer than 35 years old; emissions tests in certain countiesNo
OHYesEmissions tests in Cleveland area with certain vehicles exemptNo
ORYesEmissions tests in certain areasYes
PAYesEmissions tests in certain counties; annual safety inspectionNo
RIYesSafety and emissions inspection every two yearsYes
TNYesEmissions tests in certain countiesNo
TXYesAnnual safety inspection; emissions tests in certain counties with some exemptionsNo
UTYesEmissions tests in certain countiesNo
VTYesAnnual safety inspections; emissions tests for vehicles from 1996 or newerYes
VAYesSafety inspections; emissions tests in certain countiesNo
WAYesEmissions tests in certain countiesYes
WVYesAnnual safety inspectionsNo
WIYesEmissions tests in certain countiesNo

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What to Keep in Mind About Car Inspections

So, how much does a car safety inspection cost? Let’s review.

  • Car inspections will generally cost $150 or more, but you can choose what mechanic or dealership to go to in most cases
  • Inspection requirements vary greatly between states and even counties. Your state’s DMV, or equivalent, can inform you as to whether or not your car needs an inspection
  • If your car fails an inspection, get it fixed and retested as soon as possible to avoid a potential fine

Now that we’ve assessed car inspection costs and requirements, try our free online quote tool to compare companies and find affordable auto insurance coverage in your area.

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