Owning a car is a long-term commitment. Not only are you responsible for taking care of the costs related to the sale, you are also accountable for ensuring its maintenance.
One of the most important things you need to do to maintain your car is to bring it to car inspections regularly, and as required.
Here, we’ll give you a quick checklist of the three important things you need to bring for car inspections, as well as what you can expect from it.
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When Should You Bring Your Car In for Inspections
First, if you’re wondering if your electric car needs inspections, it does. But now let’s look at what you should always bring, regardless of your having a gas-driven or electric car inspected.
You can read here whether Teslas need inspections in your state.
Before we go into the checklist, let’s first discuss when you’ll need to go for a car inspection.
This would vary from state to state, but typically, once every two years is the recommended frequency.
The purpose of a car inspection is to make sure that your vehicle is operating well in good condition to avoid vehicle failure on the roads.
States are very particular about this because although your car is your business, its failure on the road can potentially impact other people, as well as damage properties.
In that regard, therefore, it becomes a matter of public safety.
You wouldn’t want your car to be a vehicle of doom, so it’s better for you to get it routinely checked up. It’s not just for your safety, but also for the rest of your family, other passengers, and other drivers.
What to Bring to A Car Inspection (A Quick Checklist)
Before you bring your car to the shop for inspection, make sure that you have the following with you:
1) Driver’s License/Photo ID
You would think this is a given, but you’d actually be surprised at how often people tend to forget to bring their driver’s license and IDs.
Who knows as to how they could not have it with them, but just the same, it’s good to be clear with the reminder.
That said, your license must be current and valid at the time of the inspection. So if your license has expired or lapsed (or is just about to), you might want to take care of that first before setting an appointment for a car inspection.
2) Car Insurance
You need car insurance in order to be able to get a car inspection.
Bring the proof of insurance with you to your appointment. If you have full coverage insurance, then you can rest assured that any state insurance will be accepted.
If your vehicle only has liability insurance, however, then you need to check with your state as to their policy on required coverage and provider.
3) State Inspection Fee
Remember when we said you’re responsible for all the costs related to the car?
This one is one of those costs.
The state inspection fee is set by the state, and so would vary depending on where you are.
Other factors that affect this fee include the vehicle’s type and age, your county of residence, as well as emission requirements.
This fee is mandatory, regardless of the result of your inspection. So whether your car passes or fails the inspection, you’ll still be paying for this fee.
Also, take note that in case your car does fail the inspection, you have the next 30 days to resubmit it for inspection without needing to pay another set of inspection fee. Beyond that window, you’ll need to pay for a new one the next time you go for an inspection.
What Can You Expect From A Car Inspection?
Since the process is obviously an important one, what should you expect from it when you go for an inspection?
If you’re a new car owner, or if you’ve had a car for a while but never really bothered to pay attention to this process, here are the things that will be covered in the car inspection:
Your car will essentially be getting a thorough check-up, inside out. A certified car technician will pop the hood to take a closer look at the engine, transmission, electrical systems, drivetrain, and cooling system to see if they’re all working well.
One of the easier ways to determine if there’s anything wrong going on under the hood is to see if the Check Engine lights pop up.
This should warn you that something might need repair or replacement soon.
If your car has automatic transmission, the transmission fluid must be clean. There should also be no lapses or delays in the transmission while you’re driving.
For manual transmission, the gears should be able to shift smoothly. The reverse function will also be checked; if there’s any grinding noise during reverse, then it could mean there’s a problem with that as well.
Body and Undercarriage
The exterior is just as important as the engine. Your technician will need to inspect the auto body for rust or corrosion, as well as bumps and dents.
The thickness of the paint will also be measured to ensure that the car is covered safely enough against the debris and other external elements, which may cause rusting.
As for the undercarriage, the inspection will include the system of tires, wheels, brakes, suspension, and driveline.
Here’s a crucial tip for you: if your tires are in a poor state, replace them first before you bring the car in for inspection. Don’t wait until the technician sees it in poor condition, because it can definitely be grounds to fail the inspection.
Just as important as the exterior is the interior.
The technician will see if all the mechanisms inside that are connected to the engine or under-chassis are all functioning well.
Are your brake and clutch pads in good shape? Is the steering wheel responsive as it should be?
What about the transmission? Do they shift effortlessly, or does it take some muscle power? The dashboard will also be checked for any defective signals, such as the gaslight and engine check light. Light controls, lane change signals, and others, will also be looked at.
Beyond the comfort of your upholstery, the car inspector will also be more interested in checking if all your seatbelts are in good order.
Do they lock in place smoothly, and can you unlock them just as fast? Do they not get jammed while you’re tugging them from their receptacle?
All of these things may be minor to you in details, but these do give huge signs when the car is not in its tiptop condition.
This is actually the BIG one when it comes to car inspections.
It’s important for your car to pass the emissions testing, otherwise, it may end up getting prohibited from being used on the road.
This means that you can’t drive your car anymore because it has been deemed a health hazard and environmentally damaging.
Again, as with the tires, DO NOT WAIT for the car inspection before you get your car’s emissions fixed. Otherwise, you risk getting an automatic failure.
States, in general, are very particular about emissions testing, so you should take it very seriously too.
To make sure that they’ve checked every nook and cranny in your car, a road test may be performed.
This should help the technician get a better feel of your vehicle’s condition, and maybe find something else they would have otherwise missed just looking under the hood.
If the driving test goes well, and all the boxes are checked off, then it’s time for some congratulations!
You’ve successfully passed your car inspection!
Final Thoughts on Car Inspection
Car inspections are tedious and thorough for a reason. It’s for you to travel safe and sound at all times, whether on your own, or with family and friends, or clients.
As a car owner, it is crucial that you pay attention to all of the necessary requirements you need to bring for a car inspection.
Any recommendations for repairs or improvements must also be taken into consideration because it’s for your own good.
However, don’t wait for the car inspection to discover any issues with your car before you take any action.
Remember, the car inspection is there not to give you a checklist of items your car could use for maintenance or improvement.
Rather, the car inspection is there to determine whether or not your vehicle is actually safe enough to be out on the road. In other words, think of it as a test, not as a simple check-up.
With these tips, you can enjoy your car for longer, and safer.