The list of vehicle components to be checked during a vehicle inspection varies by state, but always includes safety items, such as brakes, seat belts, lights, electrical systems and wheel assembly. A vehicle inspection check also inspects a vehicle's exhaust, fuel and emission systems. Most states also check the vehicle's documentation, including proof of liability insurance and registration certificate.
Most states, including New York and Texas, conduct a yearly vehicle inspection check to ensure that motor vehicles driven on roadways and public streets are in safe operating condition. Some states, such as New Jersey, only conduct re-inspection every two years.
A separate inspection is required if the vehicle becomes registered in a different name. A certified motor vehicle inspector inspects motor vehicles in a licensed inspection station. A vehicle that fails the mandatory vehicle check may be repaired at the inspection station with the owner's permission. The owner may do replace safety items, such as lights, tail lamps and seat belts, as long as the replacement items and installation meet the standards of the inspection station. Failed emission checks, however, should be corrected by a registered emission repair facility.
Depending on a state's vehicle check requirement, a vehicle that failed the inspection may seek a retest within a specified period of days. While it is illegal to operate a failed vehicle, some states provide a waiver or a temporary registration tag applicable while the car is being repaired and retested.