Car inspections are boring, yet important parts of your regular car maintenance. If you have to drop off your car for inspection, here’s how long you can expect to wait.
Most car inspections take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on where you live. The biggest factors to how long a car inspection takes is the state you live in, and if the mechanic finds a problem that needs further investigation.
Make special note of where you live – it’s a huge factor in how long your car inspection will take. If, for instance, you call Pennsylvania home, it shouldn’t take you more than thirty minutes to have that vehicle inspected.
On the other hand, if your license plate says “Made in California” – that estimated wait time jumps to around an hour or possibly longer.
All in all, routine car inspection isn’t a big deal if everything goes smoothly. Because if no major issues are found with the car, you should be in and out within an hour.
However, if a problem is detected, these times could increase significantly. The mechanic may need an additional 2 to 3 hours to remedy the problem with the car in order to finalize the inspection.
Let’s jump in and discuss what happens during an inspection. This way you’ll be well informed when facing any potential maintenance or repair requirements to pass that inspection.
How Long Does a Car Inspection Take on Average?
The car inspection process is an important part of your maintenance schedule. Giving your trusted mechanic the time to determine the overall condition of the vehicle, as well as preempting any concerns about replacement, repair, or maintenance.
A quick inspection confirms that you’re safe to drive on the highway, and while not all states require them, it’s still a good idea to have your car checked every now and again.
There are two general categories of inspection that states may require: emissions testing and safety testing.
Emissions testing reveals how much pollution your car emits. These numbers must be below a certain threshold for your car to be legally driven on the road.
Safety testing, as you might imagine, involves testing all of the important safety features of the vehicle, including the following:
This process generally takes less than an hour, but if your mechanic finds something that bears further investigation, then you might need to hang around for a while longer while the mechanic identifies and fixes the issue.
If your car is being inspected for a problem of unknown origin (strange grinding noises, unexplained car malfunctions,) then you might be waiting around for a while longer.
In some cases, you may have to leave your car at the shop overnight for the mechanic to investigate the problem thoroughly.
Why Are Car Inspections Important?
We understand – taking the time to get your car inspected isn’t always fun. But it’s a necessary measure that makes sure you, and everyone else on the road, are driving in safe vehicles.
Truth is, you never know when there could be an issue lurking with your car. Not addressing it can lead to a potentially hazardous situation that might not just cost you money – it could even cause injury.
For example, a worn ball joint could lead to a catastrophic failure. Such failure could result in your front suspension coming apart, causing total loss of control of your car.
Or, an old rusty exhaust system can be a dangerous thing. If it snaps off while you’re driving at speed, the results could be disastrous.
Regular inspections are really the only way to make sure that there aren’t any hidden issues with your car. Issues that could lead to an accident or injury.
Who Can Perform a Car Inspection?
No matter where you live, a certified mechanic may be able to give your vehicle the green light when it comes to an auto inspection.
While state regulations vary in terms of roles and services provided for inspections, local laws often make way for any expertly qualified individual or business to check out everything from brakes to the lights.
However, some jurisdictions require inspections only at certified inspection stations. Your local government offices will be able to supply a list of certified stations.
What is Checked During a Car Inspection?
When bringing your car in for its inspection, it’ll go through a few steps to make sure everything is running smoothly.
It starts with reviewing all the paperwork, then a quick road test. Next, a visual examination under the hood for any obvious signs of problems.
Finally, a mechanical and electrical inspections of all components will also be scrutinized.
Can You Drive Around With a Failed Inspection?
Yes, but only for a specific time frame. You are allowed to drive your car home or to a repair facility on a rejection sticker. However, you will be given a specific time frame to repair the issues that caused the car to fail inspection.
On average, a failed inspection sticker allows up to 20 days to have the car fixed so that it passes when being re-inspected.
What States Do Not Require Car Inspections?
Many rural states don’t require safety or emissions tests. This is likely due to the lower numbers of drivers on their roads and lesser risk for accidents. States that currently do not require car inspection include:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Final Thoughts: How Long Does a Car Inspection Take?
Car inspections aren’t the most glamorous part of owning a vehicle, but they are an important part of car ownership.
Most car inspections take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on where you live and what the mechanic finds.
And if you have to drop your car off for inspection, be patient and hope that the process is quick and painless. In most cases, you can be in and out of the shop in less than an hour.
Tell us in the comments below how long your car inspection has taken on average.
Last Updated on January 26, 2023
Loves anything with a motor and wheels.
Christopher is an automotive technical writer. When he’s not at the local autocross event, he can often be found working on one of his cars. Specializes in automotive class action law, industry trends, and automotive maintenance. Email me direct, or learn more about us