How Often Should Your Car Be Inspected – Since 1932, the State of Virginia has required vehicle owners to have their cars and trucks inspected for mechanical safety and reliability by a State-certified company & mechanic once every six months. Yes, twice a year. The state required a bi-annual vehicle inspection until the early 1980s when it was finally changed to the one-year inspection we have today. Some parts of the State* require an “Emissions Inspection” in addition to a Vehicle Safety Inspection, but that is not a State requirement for vehicles registered in the Hampton Roads area.
Pre-Match Inspection Even if you’re not the mechanically inclined type, there are still some things you should do to make sure your vehicle is ready for its annual State Inspection.
How Often Should Your Car Be Inspected
Lights: Make sure your running lights, headlights, brake lights and turn signals are working. Replace faulty bulbs where necessary and don’t forget to check the rear license plate lights!
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Headlight Lenses: Inspect your headlights for lens cracks, missing chips or fog. Excessive clouding (fog) of the front light lens will cause your vehicle to fail the state inspection as it will for unsafe operation on the road, especially during bad weather conditions. In other words, cars coming your way or crossing your path may have a hard time seeing you because of your foggy lenses. Avoid them!
Local auto parts stores sell “lens cleaning and polishing” kits. These come with detailed instructions and are easy to use. You can also find many how-to videos on internet video sites such as YouTube that will help you build your DIY confidence. If you are unable or unwilling to do the work, many local garages also offer this type of service. The only other option is to replace them and depending on the make and model of your vehicle, that can be an expensive route to take.
Poorly polished or chipped (bright light showing through) lenses likely need to be replaced. Replacement parts for your vehicle can be ordered from your local auto parts store or are readily available online, and you can often find “used” ones at local salvage yards.
Poorly aimed headlights can also cause your vehicle to fail a state inspection. If approaching cars are flashing their lights on and off as you approach and your headlights are not on, it may be time to change your headlights .
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Glass: Visually inspect your vehicle’s windows for cracks and large chips. This is especially important for the front windshield, which usually gets the brunt of flying road debris. The rule of thumb is that a slice smaller than a quarter is nothing to worry about. That is if they don’t get damaged all the way through the air. Chips can also spread, so if you have a broken windshield, it’s best to have the chip repaired by an auto glass repair company. Heck! Some of them will even come to you! If the cracks are too large, replacement is your only option.
Some windshield wipers can check condition if they don’t run directly across your field of view. If you have a broken windshield, it’s best if you stop by a garage or shop that provides inspections and ask their inspector if your windshield will pass.
If your car has electric windows, they must be fully functional. Failure to do so will require correction.
Mirrors: Check your outside and rear view mirrors. If they are loose, see if you can tighten them. If any of them are cloudy or deminating, they must be replaced. Exterior mirrors should also be free of cracks and chips. Repair or replace as necessary.
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Wiper blades: Check your front and (if equipped) wiper blades. Look for signs of peeling, splitting or dry rot. Replace them as needed. If they seem to be in good condition, but leave streaks in cold weather, replace them. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every year.
Tires: Visually inspect your tires for proper inflation and excessive or uneven wear. The internet is full of information that will help you determine if the clothes you see are normal or indicate serious problems.
Other Exterior Issues: While lights, glass, mirrors, and tires are the main things an inspector checks during an exterior inspection, they will also look at the general condition of your vehicle. Make sure your ABS bumper cover isn’t bent in place, or the bungee cords are the only thing holding the hood or roof down.
Are there signs of water leaking under your vehicle where it normally is? We’re not talking about a/c condensation leaks, we’re talking about the kind of water leaks that leave stains on your driveway’s asphalt or concrete. These are signs of a condition that needs to be addressed. Even if you are not sure what type (motor oil, antifreeze, power steering or brake fluid) of the defects they really are.
Prepping Your Vehicle For Its Annual State Inspection
Brakes: Car brakes wear at different times depending on the driver, the use of the vehicle, the parts used, etc. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for the recommended intervals for servicing the pads. If you feel a problem due to the clutch, gears or pedal traveling too much or feeling spongy, have them serviced as soon as possible. Waiting for the “inspection date” will only result in a delay or your vehicle will be stuck with a rejection sticker.
Suspension: If you know how to drive your vehicle safely and check the suspension linkage and components for excessive wear, by all means, do that. Address any problems before submitting for state inspection. If jacking up your vehicle and hauling it around some dirty parts isn’t your thing, consider how your car handles. Do you turn the steering wheel and the vehicle takes a second or two to seize? Is there too much wobble or play in the steering wheel? Are your tires wearing unevenly or are they shaking at high speeds? Is the vehicle pulling too much in one direction? If you answered yes or “like” to any of these questions, it may be time to introduce a delayed diagnosis.
Shock/Strut Test: Well, this is easy. Push your car up and down by hand. A good logo will rise and fall in an instant. The moving shocks and struts allow the car to move up and down several times before stopping.
Interior: A state inspector must enter your vehicle to remove the old sticker. This is usually how their investigation begins. They will check the steering column and driver’s seat for looseness, turn the lights on and off and check the turn signals and brake lights. They will check the operation of the wiper and look at your mirrors. They will check the window function, defrost/blow function and blow the horn.
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If you want to make a good impression and show that you are a responsible car owner when you bring your vehicle in for inspection, remove all dirt beforehand. Clean the windows and if it smells like wet dog living there, clean it with a deodorizer. Remember that you need one of the “pine trees” to do the job. Don’t be “that car” and be a whole forest there!
Finally….. don’t have anything hanging on your rear view mirror. (Even those pine trees!) It is illegal to hang anything out of your rearview mirror in the State of Virginia, and while it may not be a reason to carry your car, it is it’s reason enough for the police to go over. on the bias.
* Your vehicle must meet Virginia emissions inspection requirements if it is garaged in one of the areas listed below We are a serious business; you can come visit us! Due to current COVID-19 concerns, many local jurisdictions have lifted stay-at-home orders, which allow only essential businesses to open. What this means for the families we serve and our staff:
Please give us a call to let us know what’s going on with your car and we’ll do everything we can to get you back on the road!
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In the state of Colorado, car inspections are not mandatory but can be very helpful in maintaining cars and avoiding costly repairs in the future. At our AAMCO Colorado locations, we offer a pre-purchase inspection to help identify any issues with your used car purchase or a vehicle inspection to assess and address any issues with your current vehicle to them.
There is no set schedule for having your car inspected but it is important to have the used car you are considering buying inspected to avoid future problems and costly repairs. Additionally, servicing your current vehicle annually can help with regular maintenance and help avoid costly repairs if your mechanic finds an issue.
If you are thinking of buying or looking at a used car
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