State Safety & Emission Inspections

State Safety Inspection


The Virginia Vehicle Inspection is a highly detailed series of steps that state-certified inspectors use to examine and assess the roadworthiness of motor vehicles in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Below is the Required Official Inspection Procedure for the Virginia Safety Inspection, which has been approved by the Virginia State Police Superintendent:

  1. The first step of the Virginia Safety Inspection is to remove the old inspection sticker. This ensures that only the new inspection sticker will be displayed in the vehicle, in order to minimize confusion and reduce fraud.
  2. The vehicle is then driven into the inspection lane to begin the Virginia Vehicle Inspection process.
  3. Brakes are the first area to be examined. They are assessed for worn, missing or damaged components, as well as contaminated, worn or defective linings or drums. Disc pads and disc rotors are also examined for defects or contamination. At least two wheels (and drums) are to be removed from the vehicle at the time of inspection.
  4. The parking brake is examined for missing or broken parts, as well as for proper adjustment or alignment. The inspector will also confirm whether the parking brake is comprised of standard factory equipment, or if it is a replacement part.
  5. Headlights are examined to ensure proper aim and output. The appropriate type of headlights must also be used for the type of vehicle being inspected. Finer details will also be examined, including the condition of the wires, lamps and switch. High beam indicator and functionality should be up to standard as well.
  6. Other lights will be examined for approved bulb type, condition of lenses, switch and wiring. Fog lamps and driving lamps will be assessed to ensure proper aim. All lenses will be checked for proper color and illumination.
  7. Signal devices will be inspected to ensure proper type, color, lens condition, bulbs, wiring, switch, illumination, and correct operation.
  8. The inspector will then jack up the front end of the car and inspect the steering and suspension components. Bushings, ball joints, kingpins, tie rod ends, and wheel bearings will all be checked for wear. Wheel and axle alignment will also be checked, along with coil springs, shock absorbers, engine mounts and lift blocks. All parts must be functioning at adequate levels, and must not be broken.
  9. Tire condition, including tread depth, will be examined, along with wheels, to ensure that no damages will affect the safe operation of the vehicle.
  10. Mirrors will be checked for proper mounting, visibility and surface condition.
  11. The car horn will be inspected to ensure that the wiring is functional, and that the horn can be heard from a distance of 200 feet.
  12. The condition of the windshield and other glass will be inspected to ensure that only approved safety glass is being used. Windows will also be checked for cracks, scratches, distortion, cloudiness and other obstructions to vision. The operation of the left front (driver’s side) door glass will be inspected as well.
  13. Wiper blade condition will be checked, along with windshield defroster operation.
  14. All major aspects of the exhaust system (e.g., gaskets, manifold, pipes, connections, mufflers, etc.) will be inspected, and the system will be checked for leaks as well.
  15. The rear license plate will be examined to ensure proper illumination.
  16. The hood latch will be checked for proper functionality. The emissions system will also be examined for proper connection and operation. Brake fluid and power steering fluid levels will be checked, and the power steering belt will be inspected for adequate tension and condition.
  17. For vehicles that were manufactured in or after 1973, pollution control systems will be checked for proper installation and operation.
  18. The driver’s seat will be checked for anchorage, condition and location.
  19. The condition and location of seat belts will also be checked, and the inspector will examine to ensure that the appropriate type of seat belts for the vehicle have been installed.
  20. The vehicle’s airbag system will be inspected, including the air bag readiness light.
  21. Door handles will be inspected to ensure that the driver and passengers have the ability to open all doors from both the inside and outside of the vehicle. Latching systems will also be examined to ensure that the doors can properly close and stay shut.
  22. The fuel system will be inspected to ensure that the vehicle has a fuel tank filler cap, and to detect any potential liquid fuel leakage.
  23. The floor pan of the vehicle will be inspected to ensure that no holes are present that would allow dangerous fumes or exhaust gases to enter into the occupant compartment.
Once all of the above Virginia State Inspection steps have been carried out, the inspector will determine if the vehicle is approved or disapproved. If approved, an official completed approval sticker will be placed on the vehicle, and a receipt of certificate will be given to the operator. If the vehicle is not approved, the operator must get the problems corrected, and then have the vehicle reinspected within a 15-day period. We offer State Inspection Services – Contact Us Today!

Please note that State Inspections are on a first come first serve basis based upon Virginia state law and may take additional time to complete.

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State Emissions

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has implemented a Virginia State Emissions program whereby motorists are required to take their vehicles in for an emissions inspection in order to renew their vehicle’s registration. Below are some key points of information regarding the Virginia emissions inspection program, so that you can ensure that your vehicle is meeting all of the requirements necessary for legal operation in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • It can be difficult at times to keep up with various legislation changes affecting emissions testing requirements, so if you are unsure whether or not your vehicle will require an emissions inspection in order to renew your vehicle’s registration in Virginia, you can use the online tools available at []. Under the “Online Services” tab, select “Vehicle Registration Renewal” and then follow the prompts. You will need to have your vehicle title number as well as the last four digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in order to use the online lookup tool; this information is printed on your current registration card.
  • Vehicles that require an emissions inspection before the DMV can complete the registration process are as follows: (1) Gasoline-powered vehicles (passenger and property-carrying) that are newer than 25 model years old from January 1st of the current calendar year, and with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 10,000 pounds or less, and (2) Diesel-powered vehicles (passenger or property-carrying) that have a model year of 1997 or newer, with a GVW of 8,500 pounds or less. It should be noted that all government vehicles operated in the Northern Virginia area are subject to emissions inspection requirements as well.
  • Hybrid vehicles are exempt from the emissions inspection requirement, but only if they have obtained a rating from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifying that the vehicle has a fuel efficiency of at least 50 miles per gallon in city fuel economy tests. To find out which specific hybrid vehicles have been exempted from emissions inspection requirements, visit the Virginia DMV website at [] for an updated list.
  • To apply for a 2-year vehicle registration, you must have your emissions inspection performed no earlier than 90 days before the expiration date of your current vehicle registration. If you choose to get your emissions inspection performed earlier than this 90-day window, you will only be able to qualify for a 1-year vehicle registration.
  • The three types of emissions tests performed on gasoline-powered vehicles are (1) Acceleration simulation mode test (2) Two-speed idle test and (3) On-board diagnostic system test. For diesel-powered vehicles (1997 and newer with a GVW of 8,500 pounds or less), an on-board diagnostic computer system test will be performed.
  • Before the emissions inspection can be performed, the inspector is required to conduct what is known as a “Pre-Inspection Safety Check”, in which the inspector examines the vehicle ahead of time for safety hazards including fluid leaks, a missing gas cap, visible smoke, mechanical/engine problems, or any other defects or issues that could potentially pose a safety risk during the inspection. If the vehicle does not pass this preliminary safety inspection, it will be rejected from vehicle emissions testing, and the owner of the vehicle must correct the problem areas before they will be able to bring their vehicle back again for emissions testing.
  • Although inspection fees may vary, the maximum fee amount for an emissions inspection is $28. Should your vehicle fail the initial inspection, you are allowed to have one free retest within 14 calendar days of the initial inspection.
  • When you bring your vehicle in for an emissions inspection, make sure to have your DMV-issued Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice on hand, so that the inspector can scan the bar code on the notice to ensure accuracy of data.
  • Once your vehicle passes inspection, the results are automatically sent to the Vehicle Inspection Database, which is then transmitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles within a 24-hour period. Upon passing the emissions inspection, you have a two-year time window in which you can renew your registration without having to get another inspection.
  • Learn how to read your Virginia State Emission report here and learn more about your VA State Inspection here.

Visit the Department of Motor Vehicle for more information on your Virginia Safety Inspection here.

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