North Carolina State Safety Inspections and County Emissions Inspections

The State of North Carolina requires vehicles to undergo annual safety inspections. Both Wake and Chatham counties require annual emissions testing as well.

These inspections must be performed annually, at least 90 days before your plate expires. If you got a vehicle registration renewal notice in the mail, then you know it’s inspection time!

Most auto repair shops don’t really add any value to the inspection process. We do.

Most inspection stations just take your fees, make the inspection and pass the results on to the DMV without doing anything else. That’s fine, but it’s the bare minimum. We don’t believe in doing the bare minimum here at My Mechanic.

Instead, we perform an in-depth vehicle health check using the kind of high-tech equipment that you’ll usually find only with vehicle manufacturers. This allows us to present you with a thorough report on what may need to be repaired or replaced throughout the coming year.

This means you will drastically reduce your chances of suffering a nasty, inconvenient breakdown at exactly the wrong moment. You’ll extract more value from your vehicle and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle inside and out.

What might cause your vehicle to fail an inspection?

There are two types of inspection, so let’s take these one at a time.

Safety Inspections

If you’ve been keeping up with your regular vehicle maintenance [link to regular maintenance page] you’ll probably do fine here. A safety inspection checks the following items:

  • Headlights
  • Brake lights
  • Warning lights
  • Turn signals
  • Foot brakes
  • Parking brake
  • Steering
  • Tire tread depth
  • Tire integrity (i.e. – is there any tire damage?)
  • Rear-view mirrors
  • Window tint in compliance with State law
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • …and much more!

As you can see, this inspection is no great mystery, and you don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of cars to guess for yourself if your car is going to pass. Most of these items are also both easy and inexpensive to correct if there is a problem.

Emissions Inspections

Emissions inspections are a little more complex; we use the on-board diagnostic system to make sure your exhaust and emissions systems are working properly. We also make a visual inspection of these systems to make sure nothing is cracked, rusted, or damaged. One advantage of getting your inspection done here is you will know that we’ll be able to offer you a repair if your vehicle needs some work to bring it up to snuff. However, if you’ve been getting your exhaust and emissions systems checked every six months as we recommend then passing this inspection should not be an issue for you.

But we don’t recommend worrying too much anyway if your car seems to be acting normally. Emissions problems are rarely quiet. If you’ve got an emissions problem, you may notice the car shaking or backfiring. You might also have trouble starting the car, or your car may actually stop running whenever it’s idling. All of these are signs that you should come in for a diagnostic and repair right away, whether it’s inspection time or not.

Is anyone exempt from exceptions?

A few people can skip emissions inspections, though not safety inspections. You can skip emissions testing if your car is:

  • Less than 3 years old with fewer than 70,000 miles on it
  • Model year 1995 or older
  • Fully electric (not a hybrid)
  • Diesel operated
  • Weighs more than 8,500 pounds
  • A farm vehicle
  • A motorcycle
  • An RV, or motorhome

That means the vast majority of Wake and Chatham county drivers will need both types of inspections.

Remember! If you are required to get inspections, you cannot renew your vehicle registration until you get them it done. Click here  to make your appointment today.