Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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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. 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

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Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2022

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The Lowdown

  • Most car inspections cost between $150 and $250
  • Depending on your state and policy, you may be required to have your car inspected before you can purchase auto insurance
  • Car inspection requirements vary considerably between states, with some requiring annual safety inspections and others requiring no inspections whatsoever

Many states require you to have your car inspected before registering it. Depending on your state’s laws, you may need to pay for an inspection either when purchasing a car (new or used) or once every few years.

As drivers should take into consideration expenses like registration fees and auto insurance payments when purchasing a vehicle, many people want to know the average car inspection cost.

With this guide, we’ll help you determine how much a car inspection will cost you and give you an overview of inspection requirements in every state.

After you determine how much a car inspection will cost you, enter your ZIP code in the free tool above to compare auto insurance rates and find coverage that’s right for you.

How much do car inspections cost?

Car inspections typically cost between $150 and $250. Most mechanics and dealerships will perform a car inspection for you, so be sure to compare options and look for the best combination of affordability and thoroughness before making your decision.

A full vehicle inspection covers the following:

  • Braking: Tests how reliably the vehicle brakes and otherwise slows down
  • Exhaust: Tests how cleanly and effectively exhaust fumes are removed from the engine
  • Steering/suspension: Tests how smooth and responsive the vehicle is when turning
  • Tires/alignment: Tests tires to ensure that they’re properly aligned and not damaged in any way
  • General inspection: Tests various systems not covered in the four categories above (windshield wipers, wiring, etc.)

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Do you need to have your car inspected before purchasing auto insurance?

Depending on your state and insurance company, you may need to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic or dealership before you can purchase an auto insurance policy.

More often than not, insurance companies will require an inspection before they allow you to purchase one of their more expensive coverage options or when trying to insure a used vehicle. You can also expect your insurance company to request an inspection if you file a claim after an accident.

Even if you aren’t required to have your car inspected, doing so may benefit you in the long run because it will provide a record of your vehicle’s condition. This way, if you get into an accident, you’ll have an easy time proving that any damage to your car wasn’t there before the collision. (And, hopefully, you have full coverage as well.)

What states require car inspections?

Some states require frequent car inspections. Others require them in specific circumstances. And a few require no inspections whatsoever.

The Miley Legal Group has compiled a list of car inspection requirements in each state. Take a look at an overview of these inspection laws in the table below.

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 area No
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 ownership;No
NCYesSafety 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 inspection No
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 counties No
WAYesEmissions tests in certain countiesYes
WVYesAnnual safety inspectionsNo
WIYesEmissions tests in certain countiesNo
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How to find out if your car needs an inspection?

If you’re unsure about your state’s car inspection requirements, contact your DMV, or equivalent, and provide them with information on your vehicle’s make and model. They should be able to help you determine what sort of inspection your vehicle requires (if any).

Most mechanics or dealerships will be able to perform a safety inspection or emissions test, but you may be required by your state to go to an approved location. You may also want to go to a mechanic before a required safety or emissions test to ensure that your car passes and you don’t have to pay any additional testing fees.

What happens if your car fails an inspection?

Exactly how a failed car inspection is handled varies between states. Most often, you’ll be required to repair your vehicle within a set period (usually somewhere between two weeks and a month) or you’ll face a fine.

In most states, after your car has failed an inspection, you won’t be able to sell it until it’s fixed. You may also be unable to renew your auto insurance policy until you take your car to a mechanic or dealership.

If your car fails an inspection, take it to a mechanic or dealership as soon as possible, so you can have it tested again once it’s been fixed.

What to Remember About Car Inspections

  • While car inspections will almost always cost you $150 or more, you have a great deal of freedom when it comes to selecting a mechanic or dealership, so spend some time comparing options
  • Car inspection requirements depend on your state’s laws. Check with your state’s DMV or equivalent if you’re uncertain about inspection requirements
  • If your car fails an inspection, don’t panic. Take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible and have it retested to avoid a fine or other penalties

Now that we’ve reviewed how much car inspections cost and how they relate to insurance rates, try our free online quote tool to compare companies and find the most affordable auto insurance coverage in your area.