Do I have to pay again if my vehicle fails the safety inspection?

The purpose of a safety inspection is to make sure your vehicle has all of the necessary equipment to operate safely on public roadways. Some, but not all, states require a vehicle inspection before your vehicle can be legally registered.

Items checked during a safety inspection include:

  • Seat belts
  • Brakes
  • Steering, front end, suspension, and chassis
  • Frame and wheel fasteners
  • Tires
  • Lights
  • Windshield wipers and blades
  • Horn
  • Mirrors
  • Fuel leaks

Procedures vary by state, but if your vehicle fails the safety inspection, you'll generally be given a document explaining the problem and what you must do to have your vehicle repaired. The person conducting the inspection may suggest you visit a shop that employs registered emissions repair technicians if your vehicle also fails the emissions inspection.

If your vehicle doesn't pass the safety inspection on the first try, you can usually get a free retest under limited circumstances. For example, Massachusetts allows drivers to request one free retest if they visit the same inspection station for their follow up appointment. Drivers who choose to visit a different station or those who need more than one retest must pay the $29 inspection fee. However, you only have 60 days to have your vehicle repaired and inspected again.

Regardless of whether or not you need to pay for your safety inspection, it is to your advantage to make sure your vehicle meets state requirements as soon as possible. In New York, for example, you can't renew your vehicle registration, you may receive a fine, or you may receive a parking ticket if you have an expired vehicle inspection sticker.

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