Texas Vehicle Inspection (Good For/Fails For)

If you’ve recently gone through the arduous process of vehicle inspection in Texas, one question is surely on your mind: how long is a Texas vehicle inspection good for?  

Texas vehicle inspections last for two years for newly-bought vehicles and one year for used/old vehicles. If a vehicle fails an inspection, it will receive a “failed inspection” sticker and must return the vehicle for re-inspection within 20 days. You can fail an inspection a total of two times before fees are incurred.

Vehicle Inspection Car In Auto Service Lifting For Repairing Mechanics In Garage. - Texas View
Vehicle Inspection Car In Auto Service Lifting For Repairing Mechanics In Garage. - Texas View

Texas Vehicle Inspection

Vehicle inspections in Texas aren’t as straightforward as we’d like them to be, so it’s only natural to be confused about how long they’re good. The short answer is this: vehicle inspections are good for one year or two with an initial inspection.

Vehicle inspections must be passed within 90 days before the registration or renewal of your vehicle, as stated by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

What’s the Purpose of a Vehicle Inspection?

Your vehicle must pass an official state safety and emissions yearly to drive on Texas state roads legally. This inspection ensures that every vehicle is safe and fit to use on the road.

Inspections also allow vehicle owners to check the state of their vehicle and fix any problems they may not have noticed before the inspection. This saves the owner from costly fixes and repairs that may lead to bigger problems if not immediately looked into.

What Happens During a Texas Vehicle Inspection?

When you take your car for an inspection, the inspector will ask you for three things: proof of insurance, a valid driver’s license/Photo ID, and payment of between $7 to $40, depending on the city and car type.

Once the proper documents are signed, the inspection will examine multiple vehicle parts. The whole process takes anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.

The official Texas DPS page can provide exact information on what’s inspected. In general, though, expect these parts to be examined:

  • (2x) Headlights
  • (2x) Tail Lamps
  • (3x) Stop Lamps
  • Beam Indicator
  • Brakes System (parking brake included)
  • Exhaust Emission System (for gasoline cars only, age 2 years and above)
  • Exhaust System
  • Gas Caps (for cars over 2 years old)
  • Horn
  • License Plate Lamp
  • Mirrors
  • Motor/Serial/Vehicle Identification Number
  • Rear Red Reflectors
  • Seat Belts
  • Steering
  • Tires
  • Turn Signals
  • Wheel Assembly
  • Window Tint
  • Windshield Wipers

To avoid failure, it’s highly recommended that you conduct a full pre-inspection with the help of a professional before proceeding with your state vehicle inspection. This way, you won’t have to worry about returning to the inspection a second time.

Motion Image Of Heavy Traffic In Austin Texas Lamar Boulevard Bridge At Sunset Time. - Texas View
Motion Image Of Heavy Traffic In Austin Texas Lamar Boulevard Bridge At Sunset Time. - Texas View

How Much Does Vehicle Inspection Cost in Texas?

Vehicle inspection in Texas is fairly cheap compared to other states. Here’s a general breakdown of the costs:

  • Two-year safety for new vehicles: $7.00
  • One-year safety for old vehicles: $7.00
  • Moped: $0.25
  • Trailer: $7.00
  • Motorcycle: $7.00
  • Emissions-only vehicles in Travis, El Paso, and Williamson counties: $11.50
  • Emissions-only vehicles (DFW/Houston): $18.50
  • Safety emissions in Travis, El Paso, and Williamson Counties: $18.50
  • Safety Emissions (DFW/Houston): $25.50
  • Commercial vehicles: $40.00

What Happens if You Fail an Inspection?

If you fail a vehicle at a Texas DMV, the inspector will place a glaring “failed inspection” label on your car’s windshield. The inspector will give you 20 days to fix the vehicle and get it reinspected.

They will give you a list of items to fix and the exact date on which you need to have them fixed. If you’ve failed the second inspection, the DMV will give you another 20-day opportunity to fix the vehicle.

But if you’ve failed the third inspection, you’ll incur re-inspection fees. You’ll also need to have your vehicle inspected every three months for the next two years.

Reasons that Instantly Prevent You from Passing a Vehicle Inspection

Inspectors would instantly “fail” your vehicle if they deem it a hazard, a health risk, or a danger to the road and driver. These reasons include the following:

  • Visible vehicle damage
  • Leaking engine oil, brake, transmission, brake, or exhaust
  • Unsafe tires
  • Malfunctioning Check Engine light
  • Inoperable parking breaks
  • Excessive smoke coming from the engines
  • Gas cap leaks
  • Missing or non-removable gas cap
  • Missing, malfunctioning, or damaged diagnostic connector

Driving Inspection FAQs

Can you drive with a “failed inspection” sticker in Texas?

Yes, you can drive with a rejection sticker in Texas—but only to drive your vehicle home and to a repair facility. You can drive with the rejection sticker for 15 days from the inspection date. If it passes the 15-day threshold, you’ll have to pay a fine of between $200 to upwards of $500.

Do you have to pay for the second inspection if you failed the first?

No, you don’t have to pay for re-inspection if the first inspection failed, as long as you take your vehicle for the second inspection within 15 days for a free re-test. If you present the vehicle after 15 days or take your vehicle to a different station, you won’t be eligible for the free re-test.

Is there a grace period for car inspection in Texas?

No, there’s no grace period on inspections. If you drive around with an expired inspection, you’ll likely incur fees of between $200 and $500.

How long do I have to register my vehicle in Texas after moving into the state?

After moving to Texas, you must register the vehicle within 30 days. You also have 90 days to obtain a Texas driver’s license. Otherwise, you’ll be given penalty fees.

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