What Are the Car Inspection Laws in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has mandatory safety checks to assure the safety of vehicles on the road. Some experts estimate that these safety checks save hundreds of lives throughout the state each year by preventing car accidents. Here’s what you need to know about the statewide system – where to go, how often you need inspections, and what it might cost you for noncompliance.
Pennsylvania Inspection Requirements for Passenger Cars and Light-Duty Trucks
The state of Pennsylvania separates vehicles into different classes – most of the state’s drivers (excluding commercial) fall into the passenger car and light-duty truck category. Safety inspections in this category involve checks of the following systems:
- Tires and wheels
- Electrical and lighting systems
- Windshield wipers
- Speedometer and odometer checks
- Horns and other warning devices
- Fuel systems
Most counties, but not all, also require an anti-tampering check. This is a visual examination of a vehicle to assess for the emission system to see of any of the components have been removed.
If you’re a new resident to Pennsylvania, you must schedule a safety inspection after registering your vehicle with the DMV. You must complete a vehicle safety inspection at an official Penn DOT station, which is usually a repair garage or a service station with the repair shop attached. You can call ahead to determine the inspection fee, which can range from $50-$100.
Should an inspection facility find defects to your car, you will have to complete repairs before obtaining a safety inspection certificate. Some of the most common reasons for safety inspection failure include:
- Issues with the tires or wheels. Your tires cannot have bulges in the sidewall, and there must be adequate tire treads. Tires must also be designed for highway use.
- Lighting or electrical issues. To pass a safety inspection, every light and switch in your vehicle must switch on and off. Headlamps must have both functioning high beams and low beams. Your vehicle will fail an inspection if the parking, trial, back up, turn signal, or hazard lights aren’t working.
- Body and chassis problems. All the following must be in good condition to pass inspection: fenders, hood and hood latches, and doors. A chassis must be in perfect condition, without cracks or damage along the bumpers or floors.
- Brake issues. An inspector will assess the condition of the caliper, wheel cylinder, and hydraulic. If the components leak or show mechanical damage, your vehicle will not pass inspection.
Once you make the necessary repairs, you’ll receive an inspection certificate that you must display on your vehicle at all times. If you fail to complete a mandatory safety inspection, a law enforcement official can compel you to do so – as well as issue a $500 citation for noncompliance.
Emissions Testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Some counties in Pennsylvania also require mandatory emissions testing, which you can procure at any official Penn DOT inspection site. If you fail an emissions test, you must complete repairs before testing again. If you spend $150 repairing your emissions system and it still fails inspection, you can obtain an emissions waiver. Emissions waivers are good for one year, so you’ll have to reapply and complete more repairs the next time you go in for your emissions and safety inspection.
Safety inspections are an important aspect of keeping Pennsylvania’s roadways safe. These annual tests help identify problems that motorists might not otherwise be aware of. By mandating these checks, the government estimates it saves hundreds of lives each year by preventing accidents caused by poorly maintained vehicles. For more information about state safety checks to schedule one in your area, call your local DMV office or search for the nearest inspection station.