What is a State Inspection

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A North Carolina state inspection is a test to make sure vehicles a suitable for the road. There are two types of state inspections; safety only inspections and On Board Diagnostic II (OBDII) Inspections. At Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill we are authorized to perform North Carolina Vehicle Emissions and Safety Inspections.

 Safety inspections are for cars that were made in model year 1995 or before , or for cars that are only 3 model years old or newer with under 70,000 miles. These inspections make sure that the car is not dangerous to drive and require no plugins or computer software.

An OBDII Inspection is a newer style of inspection, ushered in due to new EPA regulations passed in the 1990’s. This test checks the emissions of a vehicle to make sure it is running clean and not over-polluting the environment. These emissions are monitored by a computer (the On Board Diagnostics) and can be read via special software plugged into a vehicle’s ODBII port, usually above the pedals. This inspection is for all vehicles model year 1996 or newer, With the exception of cars falling under the aforementioned 3 Year, 70,000 Mile rule.

 Do I need a state inspection?

Most likely, yes. Most vehicles require a state inspection every year. Vehicles that require a state inspection are due in a certain month, shown via the sticker on the vehicle’s license plate or the registration card. If you are unsure if you need a state inspection, please feel free to stop by Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill and we can determine if your car is due for its annual inspection.


The only vehicles that have modified inspections are:

  • Vehicles 35 model years old or older (this law may change by 2020)
  • Diesel vehicles


Why is a state inspection necessary?

 The largest reason North Carolina requires state inspections is to make sure your vehicle is not over-polluting, and is not a hazard to you and other drivers. This helps keep unsafe and polluting cars off the road. However, state inspection monies also go into the Department of Transportation (DOT) funds, which help fund our roads and highways. States without state inspections, such as South Carolina for example, have less money for roads and as a result have older roads that need repaving.


How a state inspection happens:

 A state inspection begins with the inspector pulling the vehicle into the bay. The inspector legally must pull the vehicle in himself or herself, as to test the brakes as he pulls in to make sure they are safe. The lone exception to this rule is if the vehicle is designed for handicap accessibility. This also allows him to check if the Check Engine Light (usually referred to as a Malfunction Indicator light or MIL.) He or she then puts the car into the bay and raises it into the air.

Once in the air, the inspector tests multiple devices, including the e-brake cable if equipped. If this is an OBDII Inspection, he or she will make sure emission components are working properly and have not been removed or tampered with. He or she then lowers the vehicle and continues the test.

 The inspector checks to see what type of emissions-related-parts this vehicle has, such as PCV valves. He or she then makes sure all brake lights, headlights, turn signals, and mirrors are in working order. At this point, he or she begins the process of entering in the criteria of the state inspection machine.

After putting in info such as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), tag number, and other bits of info, he or she plugs in the OBDII connector and scans the vehicle. The computer states it passes If the check-engine-light works, but is not on, and all categories of emissions testing are in working order. He or she begins to enter the information of the safety devices he checked earlier. The car passes!

At this point, the inspector prints two copies of the passed inspection sheet and signs them both; one for the company records, and one for the customer. He or she then checks out the customer. The cheapest an inspection can be is $6.25 (this is the state’s cut of the revenue on any inspection) and the most is $40.00 (this is a full priced emissions inspection with a state regulated $10 window tint fee.) Most inspections usually cost $30.00 (emissions) or 13.60 (safety) but there is always a $10 fee if you have window tint. The prices are always set by the state. NEVER PAY MORE THAN THE REQUIRED AMOUNT! If you are asked to, report the station to the License and Theft Bureau! It’s illegal to charge more than the state determined prices! The customer pays and everyone is on their way! Once the customer returns home they can pay their property taxes and receive a new registration & sticker in the mail.

 At this point, the customer is good for one year, and after that year has passed the customer must begin the process again.The entire state inspection can be done in its entirety right here at Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, NC in an effective and timely matter. Are you due? If you think you may be stop by or give us a call at 704-545-4597 or for more car maintenance tips check out our blog at: http://www.autorepairminthill.com

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