How Long Does A Car Inspection Take?

Updated October, 2020
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Most basic car inspections only take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete. Filling out the paperwork may take an extra 10 minutes, so expect to be at the shop for about an hour total. However, if the mechanic discovers a possible issue with your vehicle, it may take additional time to identify and fix the problem.

When is a car inspection required?

Each state has different requirements for how often you need to go through car inspections. Some require certain examinations, such as emissions tests, while others, such as Arkansas, are laxer.

However, even if your state doesn't require inspections, it's still a good idea to get one at least once a year. You want to make sure there isn't an underlying issue with your car, even if everything seems all right.

There are different inspections to look into with some of the most common being:

  • Emissions test - Determines how many air pollutants your car gives off. Many states require this exam once every two years. Failure to pass means you can't register your vehicle.
  • VIN check - A professional looks at your car's overall history. It's most commonly done before purchasing a used vehicle to make sure it hasn't been in a severe accident.
  • Safety inspection - An expert checks the windows, tires, lights, brakes, steering, seat belts, and fluids of your vehicle.

What does a car inspection entail?

There are several components to a car inspection. As long as everything is okay, it should go by fairly quickly.

Interior of the vehicle

The mechanic needs to test all of the electrical components, including the headlights, windshield wipers, and horn. The inspector also needs to make sure the brakes and clutch work adequately. This should only take a few minutes since it's easy to tell whether all this works or not.

Exterior of the vehicle

After examining the interior, the mechanic inspects exterior components. This includes the exhaust pipe. The entire inspection should only take about 15 minutes to check out both the interior and exterior.

Smog test

An emissions check is part of most standard inspections. This is to ensure your vehicle is within legal limits for how much emission it gives off. This should take an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

Test drive

The inspector needs to take your car for a test drive. This is to see how well your vehicle brakes and takes turns. Most inspectors simply go around the block. To pass a test, your vehicle needs to pass each and every one of these steps.

Most common reasons your car may fail the inspection

A lot of moving parts make up your vehicle. A litany of factors can cause your car to fail, and these are some of the most common explanations.

  • Faulty spark plugs
  • Leaky gas caps
  • Malfunctioning oxygen sensor
  • Dirty engine oil
  • Defective catalytic converter
  • Clogged air filter

Bring these items to your car inspection

Car inspections normally go fairly fast. You can make the process a lot easier by bringing everything an inspector may need.

  • Payment method (cash, credit card, check)
  • Proof of identity (driver's license)
  • Proof of paid insurance

No proof of insurance? We've got you covered!

Most states require insurance to even get an inspection, and they certainly require it to put your car on the road! If your current policy is lacking the coverage you need, we can help you find the right insurance provider.

Find your best insurance option  - fill out our short form and get a free online quote, today!

Call an insurance expert
Our team will help you find the lowest insurance prices.
866-996-3156