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Car Inspection Laws in Pennsylvania

Posted on June 27th, 2019

If you are a regular driver in the state of Pennsylvania, it is important to know the car inspection laws. These laws are mandatory to protect the lives of drivers everywhere. The most important things to know about Pennsylvania’s car inspection laws include how often to get your vehicle checked, where to go, and the cost for noncompliance.

Pennsylvania Law

The first thing to know about Pennsylvania car inspections is how often you need to get a safety inspection done. You must complete a safety inspection after registering a new vehicle. The requirement for subsequent is to complete a safety inspection when you renew your vehicle’s registration each year.

The second thing to know is that any official Penn DOT station, found at a repair garage or service station, can complete the inspection. The fee will range anywhere between $50 to $100. These annual safety inspections help ensure drivers make necessary repairs to their vehicles that they would otherwise be unaware of. These inspections also provide the state a way keep poorly maintained vehicles off the road for everyone’s driving safety.

The last thing to know about Pennsylvania’s car inspection laws is what to expect for noncompliance. If an inspector finds a defect during your safety inspection you will not receive a certificate of completion. This certificate, displayed on your vehicle at all times,  allows you to drive safely and legally on the road. Police officers can stop you and write you a citation if you drive your vehicle without it. Failure to complete a mandatory safety inspection in Pennsylvania will result in a $500 fine for noncompliance.

How to Pass a Safety Inspection

With safety inspections being a yearly requirement, it is important to know how to pass them each year to keep you driving on the road safely and avoid paying a fine for noncompliance.

  • Lights – All lights must be visibly functioning.
  • Brakes – Brake pads should have adequate lining and there should not be excessive wear and tear on brake rotors or drums. There should be no leaks in the brake lines. Having an issue here can be the cause for a car accident that could have serious consequences.
  • Steering – The power steering on your vehicle should also be free of leaks and the belt should be in good condition.
  • Suspension – There should be no play or looseness in your vehicle’s suspension. This may affect the vehicle’s handling and stability.
  • Fuel system – Fuel lines can crack over time. If you smell gasoline while driving, it may be time to check your fuel system.
  • Tires – Your vehicle’s tires should have adequate tread at all times. There should be no visible dry rotting or cracks which can cause blow-outs.
  • Horn – A functioning is another important safety requirement. If your horn does not work, you must repair it.
  • Windshield/Doors/Windows – All of these components should be free of cracks and in good working condition.
  • Windshield Wipers/Defroster – Both of these should work. Refill windshield wiper fluid as it runs out.
  • Exhaust system – This is for your safety and the safety of others. Even a small leak can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly.
  • Seats/Seat Belts/Airbags – Your seatbelts should be fully functioning, not damaged, or frayed.
  • Engine/Undercar – Ensure that there are no oil leaks or leaks in the transmission or differential. These leaks can easily cause fires.


Emissions testing is the last part of driving a safe vehicle in Pennsylvania. Emissions tests are mandatory. They are also available at any official Penn DOT inspection site. Emissions is a pass/fail test. If your vehicle fails the emissions test, you must repair the issue before testing again. If your repairs cost more than $150 you may be eligible for an emissions waiver. Like the safety inspection, emissions tests are valid for one year. Each year you must reapply and pass the emissions test again.