Routine car inspection is one of the many requirements for car owners in many countries, including several parts of the United States. This is to ensure that the vehicle is safe on the road, and include testing for safety, emissions, and general quality and use standards.
However, for the most part, a car inspection comes with a cost, which is why many drivers dread having to do them. So, how much does a car inspection cost? On average, a standard car inspection can run from 150 to 250 dollars.
There are, however, many other factors that affect the actual cost of your vehicle inspection. These include the year, make, and model of the car, and even where you’ll have the inspection. Here’s a quick guide that offers more information on car inspections:
- How much is a car inspection?
- Vehicle inspection per state
- What does a full car inspection include?
- General car maintenance
How much is a car inspection?
The cost of a car inspection is largely determined by the type and age of the car, the state where you’ll have the inspection done, and the specific site for the vehicle inspection. As such, the actual cost can vary by a few hundred dollars. That said, you can generally expect a range of $150 to $250.
The government does set a minimum price for vehicle inspections, although the facility is pretty much free to charge you as much as they want, so it’s worth it to do a bit of research before settling in on a garage or facility.
You’ll also see that these shops display cost references that include the service areas and points covered by the testing. Many shops also advertise used vehicle and out of state inspections, but some may not offer inspection certificates, so it pays to ask beforehand.
Vehicle inspection per state
In the US, different states have different requirements for vehicle inspections. Some states only allow government operated garages to do these inspections, while others are more relaxed, as long as the facility is approved by the department of transportation.
There are even some states that don’t require regular inspections at all, unless your car has broken down and is in need of some repairs. Even the coverage of the inspection varies, with some requiring emission testing.
Car inspection cost in California
In the state of California, there are various vehicle inspections you can choose from to do your vehicle inspection. They will offer vehicle inspections that cost anywhere from $150 to $320 depending on the age and state of your vehicle (lower rates for newer vehicles, and higher rates for vehicles made in 1997 and older).
Car inspection cost in Florida
In Florida, car inspections are generally cheap, running at about a hundred dollars, with some inspectors even doing the work for free. There are also lots of private inspectors you can contact to get quotes and choose from. Of course, there are various fees that may be involved, such as the actual testing, reinspection fees, and other associated costs.
Car inspection cost in New York
Car inspection costs in New York are ridiculously affordable, so you can expect to pay just ten to twenty dollars for a basic car inspection. Of course, the actual costs still vary depending on where in New York you are, what car you’re driving (including the type, class, weight, and so on), and other factors.
Car inspection cost in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is serious about the safety of its residents, whether it be drivers or pedestrians. As such, they have various inspection programs that are being enforced, such as emissions inspection, enhanced vehicle safety, and more. As such, the inspection cost can vary, but they generally run anywhere between 50 to 100 dollars.
Car inspection cost in Texas
When it comes to good ol’ Texas, the cost of car inspection is also pretty cheap at less than fifty dollars, of course taking into account the type and age of the vehicle among other factors. It’s also generally easier to register your vehicle and do the car inspection at once, which should cost you about $40 dollars for the whole shebang.
What does a full car inspection include?
While it’s certainly easier and more affordable to opt for a basic car inspection, a full inspection is always better when it comes to ascertaining the vehicle’s quality, performance, health, and road safety. Plus, it’s also highly beneficial if you’re buying a used vehicle.
That said, the metrics and parameters for a more comprehensive inspection still vary from state to state, and even on the specific mechanic or shop you go to. As such, it’s important to know what are the important things to be inspected in your car.
One thing you should expect, however, is that a complete inspection will take significantly more time than a basic or courtesy check. For one thing, this would typically include emissions testing to determine whether your car emits a high level of pollutants from the exhaust.
Aside from the emissions testing, which can be done either by looking at the color and quality of smoke coming from the exhaust, or by using special tools to measure the emission levels, there are other things that need to be inspected when it comes to the exhaust system.
These include checking the exhaust manifold, air sensor, exhaust pass, tail-pipe, and muffler, for any signs of leaks, punctures, and other problems, most of which are signified by noises such as hissing, popping, or excessive loudness.
Steering and suspension
It’s also important to inspect the car for any possible suspension related issues such as damaged shocks, unsteady steering parts, tattered mounts, broken bushings, which can all translate to a swaying or bouncy vehicle.
Steering and suspension checks include inspecting the idler, u-joint, pitman-arm, center link, ball joints, bushings, tire rod ends, shocks, and struts.
One of the most important parts of any vehicle are the brakes since they ensure your safety on the road by allowing you to slow and stop effectively. As such, it’s naturally important to examine the braking system’s condition and see whether there are any problems such as spongy brakes, a steering wheel that shakes while braking, or grinding and squeaking noises.
Different braking components must be inspected, including measuring the thickness of the brake pads or shoes and the brake rotor, measuring the diameter of the brake drum, inspecting the brake hoses, the parking brake system, and other components such as the calipers, brake fluid, hardware, and wheel cylinders.
Your brakes are important, and as such, they should work correctly. The brakes should not show signs of rust and corrosion, or be so worn down that they don’t really work the way they should. Even the steering components should be checked to ensure that nothing is loose and that you can turn safely whenever you need to.
Tires and alignment
Even the vehicle’s tires and wheels must also be checked for various issues such as tire pressure and wearing. Things such as the tire pressure, tire tread depth, signs of misalignment, are all checked. For one thing, the tires should always be inflated at the recommended tire pressure according to the car manufacturer.
And, the tires shouldn’t be too worn out that they don’t give you your needed traction. Tread depth should be at an appropriate level to give you an effective and safe stopping distance. It should also be even across all tires, otherwise, you are likely suffering from misalignment, which reduces your fuel efficiency and the tires’ lifespan.
Aside from the tread, the tires should also show no signs of dry rot, and should not be out of date, meaning, they should be no more than ten years of age. Otherwise, the tires are considered dangerous and must be replaced immediately.
Fluids and lights
Even seemingly minor yet highly essential things like the vehicle fluids and lights must also be checked. For the fluids, this will ensure that there are leaks, that the fluids are in the right places and amounts, and so on. These car fluids include the transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, and power steering fluid.
As for the vehicle’s lights, basically, all the headlights, blinkers, fog lights, high beams, and even the internal lights should be checked to make sure they are working properly. Any service or warning lights on the dashboard that are lit up should also be addressed immediately, as well as testing whether these lights react correctly.
General car maintenance
Apart from all the things already mentioned, there are a few other aspects of a full car inspection that should be included in order to accurately ascertain your car’s health. These include a visual inspection of the belt tensioner, power steering hoses, valve cover gasket, spark plug, and more.
The fuel filter and system are also checked, along with the ignition wires, timing belt, windshield washer top off the fluid, and even how the car starts and charges.
Once everything in the car has been inspected, the next step should be to test drive it and see how it handles on the road. This is especially because while everything may look fine as the car is parked, things may not be the same when the car is running.
When should you get a car inspection?
A majority of states in the US require annual or biennial car inspections to keep citizens safe on the road and prevent highway hazards. That said, it’s often better to do a car inspection more often, so you are always sure that your car is healthy and safe to drive.
It’s also ideal to do a car inspection if you are moving out of state, planning a long drive across the country, or buying a used car, since you need to be sure what state your car is in before you take it on the road.
Where should you get a car inspection?
Now, provided that you have options to choose from depending on where you live, should you do the car inspection at a government-run facility, or hire a certified mechanic from a private shop, such as your vehicle dealership or a family-owned garage?
The answer really just depends on your preferences. A state-run facility generally costs less but comes with the hassle of getting an appointment, lining up, and waiting for long periods of time. On the other hand, a private shop gives you convenience, but with a marked up price.
You also need to consider what types of testing your state requires you to do, and whether the facility you’re looking at offers these services. Besides, while there may be hundreds of auto shops and garages in your location, not all of them are necessarily government-approved, or will give you a testing certificate.
While it can be exciting to find a mechanic that offers low prices, it’s a must to check what services their rates cover, whether their quotations actually match the actual price they give, and if they do accurate, quality work. Remember, don’t just go for the cheapest rate you find, rather, prioritize quality and reliability.
Should you get a used car inspected before buying?
Buying a used car can certainly pay off, especially since it’s priced much lower than a brand new version. If you manage to find one that’s still in top notch quality, you can end up with a car that will run like a dream and will last you for many years.
But, the only way you can guarantee that is by having it inspected for any possible issues when it comes to operation, performance, and safety. Yes, you should do this even if you are buying from a well known and trusted dealership. Find a trusty and a certified mechanic to bring along with you and inspect the car for any potential problems that you might encounter.
Getting a car inspection is important to guarantee your and your vehicle’s safety, as well as that of the other people around you, both drivers and pedestrians. Most states even mandate regular vehicle inspections, albeit in varying degrees.
How much a car inspection costs, however, largely varies depending on where you’ll have the testing done, what services the inspection covers, how and how often you drive your car, what it’s used for, how old and heavy it is, what fuel it uses, and many more.
There are even some vehicles that can be exempted from car inspection, such as classic and vintage cars that don’t really see the road all that much, as well as modified race cars that take on the streets.