Understanding Texas State Inspection Requirements

Safety Inspection Requirements

An authorized inspector will evaluate several vehicle components based on vital criteria. Some details checked during safety inspections are:

  • Brakes: Inspected for proper functionality and sufficient braking power.
  • Lights: Headlights, taillights, turn signals, and hazard lights are examined to ensure they work correctly, while clearance lights are checked for functionality, secure mounting, and correct location.
  • Tires: Checked for proper tread depth and condition to ensure traction and stability.
  • Horn: Tested to ensure it emits an audible sound.
  • Windshield Wipers: Inspected for functionality, as they are crucial for visibility during inclement weather.
  • Mirrors: Rearview and side mirrors are evaluated to ensure they provide an adequate field of view.
  • Seat Belts: Checked for proper functionality and secure fastening.
  • Exhaust System: Inspected for leaks and excessive emissions.
  • Window Tinting: When applicable, checked to ensure it complies with legal limits (i.e., windshield tint must not extend downward beyond the AS-1 line, and driver and front passenger window tint must not have less than 25% visible light transmittance.)
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Verification: The VIN is confirmed for accuracy.
Commercial Vehicles

While commercial vehicles are required to undergo annual safety state inspections, they are subject to different standards. Commercial vehicles are primarily used to transport passengers or cargo on public highways. Some commercial vehicles are even used to transport hazardous materials.

As such, the safety criteria used to evaluate passenger vehicles are insufficient in determining the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles are held to higher safety standards and must undergo additional inspections to ensure compliance with their corresponding safety and weight regulations.

Antique and Classic Vehicles

Antique vehicles are entirely exempt from safety and emissions testing.

Classic vehicles must undergo safety inspections, albeit with the special consideration of some inspection items depending on the car’s age. (For example, if a particular model was initially manufactured with seatbelts and anchorages, the inspection criteria for these items will apply.)

Special Equipment

Special equipment, such as road-building equipment and farm machinery, are exempt from safety inspections, as are vehicles required to display a Slow-Moving Vehicle Emblem.

Additionally, trailers, semitrailers, pole trailers, and mobile homes with a gross weight of 4,500 pounds or less are exempt from inspections.

Vehicles with Special Texas License Plates

Inspection exemptions also apply to vehicles bearing any of the following types of Texas license plates, tags, or stickers:

  • Paper Dealer Demonstration/In-transit/Converter Tag
  • Parade License
  • Former Military Vehicle License
  • In-Transit License
  • Machinery License
  • Disaster License
  • Farm Trailer License
  • Permit License
  • Antique License
  • Charitable Organization Tag
  • All-Terrain Vehicle Validation Sticker
Vehicles with Special Permits

Inspection exemptions may also apply to vehicles with any of the following Texas permits:

  • Factory Delivery Permits
  • Prorate Tabs
  • One-Trip Permits
  • Temporary 24-Hour Permits
  • Mobile drilling and servicing equipment used in gas, oil, or crude production having a 72- or 144-hour Permit

Emissions Inspection Requirements

In addition to the annual safety inspections, some Texas counties also require an emissions test for all gas-powered vehicles 2 through 24 years old.

An emissions test checks the level of air pollutants in your vehicle’s emissions. It is performed in compliance with federally-mandated emissions standards based on requirements as suggested in the Clean Air Act.

Counties Requiring Emissions Testing

Enhanced emissions testing is required for gasoline-powered vehicles registered in the following counties:

  • Brazoria
  • Collin
  • Dallas
  • Denton
  • Ellis
  • El Paso
  • Fort Bend
  • Galveston
  • Harris
  • Johnson
  • Kaufman
  • Montgomery
  • Parker
  • Rockwall
  • Tarrant
  • Travis
  • Williamson

The Emissions Testing Process

There are only two emissions testing methods authorized by the state. The method that applies to your vehicle will mostly depend on its manufacture date. Vehicles manufactured in 1996 and later undergo an on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) test. This test involves connecting a diagnostic tool to a vehicle’s internal computer. The scanner then performs a bulb check, maintenance indication light (MIL) command status check, trouble code check, and a readiness monitors check.

Vehicles manufactured in 1995 and prior undergo two-speed tailpipe testing because these vehicles do not come with the internal computer that allows for OBD-II testing.

Exemptions for Emissions Inspections

Some conditions nullify the need for emissions testing. The following are inherently exempt from the emissions inspection requirement:

  • New vehicles that are within two years of the date of first sale.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles with a manufacturer gross vehicle weight rating that exceeds 14,000 pounds.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Electric-powered vehicles.

Texas State Vehicle Inspections are Crucial for Road Safety

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