1. Home
  2. Safety News
  3. What is a Car Safety and Emissions Inspection?

What is a Car Safety and Emissions Inspection?

Written by | Updated October 18, 2018

A car safety and emissions inspection is a government inspection, regulated by each state individually, that ensures cars are safe to drive. There are two essential parts to this state government–regulated inspection. The first is the safety inspection that checks to make sure the car is functioning properly. The second is the car emissions inspection that works to ensure the car isn’t emitting more pollution than is legally allowed.

Each state has different laws and fees for safety and emissions inspections of vehicles, but what each state evaluates is largely the same.

Mechanic speaking to car customer

What Does a Car Safety Inspection Include?

When you go in for your auto safety inspection, make sure to bring your car’s registration, your photo identification, proof of insurance, and some form of payment. If you bring all of those items, your inspection should go on without a hitch, and you can expect an inspection of these specific elements:

  • Horn
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Mirrors
  • Steering System
  • Seat Belts
  • Brake System
  • Tires
  • Wheel Assembly
  • Lights
  • Motor, Serial, or Vehicle Identification Number
  • Window tinting
  • Gas caps
  • Again, there may be some variation depending on your state, but this is usually the standard for a car safety inspection.

What Does an Emissions Inspection Include?

A car emission test works to ensure your car’s emission controls are working properly— essentially verifying that your vehicle isn’t putting out too much pollution.

When you go to your car emission inspection, this is generally what happens behind the scenes:

  • Gas Cap Pressure Test: This test ensures your gas cap screws on tightly and keeps fuel vapors from escaping.
  • Second Generation On-Board Diagnostics: This test checks whether or not the on-board computer on vehicles older than 1996 is functioning properly.
  • Inspection and Maintenance: This test evaluates how well the tailpipe emissions and emissions control system is working.
  • Single Idle Speed Test: This test is reserved for cars made between 1976 and 1980, and it measures the vehicle’s emissions while idling.
  • Car safety and emissions tests do vary slightly from state to state and depending on vehicle age, but they will help make sure you are staying safe and that pollutants are well-regulated.

Once your car passes the basics of safety and emissions, you may want to add a few additional features to make your car even safer. Check out our Dash Cam Buyers Guide to get started.

Written by SafeWise Team

The SafeWise Team is here to help you keep your home and family safe. Whether you’re looking to pick a security system or identify and remove common risks in your home, we’re here to help you find the best products and well-researched answers. At SafeWise we combine our years of experience in home safety and security with user reviews and feedback to help take the guesswork out of living safe. Learn more

Share this article.