PA State Inspection & Emissions Test FAQ
How much does an inspection cost?
When do I have to get my inspection done?
Can I get my inspection done early?
Why would I want to get my inspection done early?
If I get my inspection done early, will my inspection be due earlier next year?
What is the difference between the Emissions Test and the State Inspection?
What is checked for in the Emissions Test?
What is checked for in the State Inspection?
What happens if I fail the Emissions Test?
What happens if I fail the State Inspection?
What do I need to bring when I get my vehicle inspected?
The price of an inspection and/or emissions test is set by the individual shop performing the service, and therefore can vary pretty wildly, with some shops charging upwards of $100. Based on our own competitive analysis, we estimate the average price to be somewhere in the $60-70 range here in the Greater Philadelphia Area. At Tires Etc, our inspection costs $39.99.
NOTE: Beware of "creative" price marketing. Many shops will offer a "$25 Inspection" just to then hit you with an additional $35 charge for the emissions test, or some similar pricing scheme. (What's the difference inspection and emissions?) At Tires Etc, our $39.99 price includes both the Inspection and the Emissions Test!
Your vehicle must have passed inspection by the last day of the month in which the inspection is due. This can be found by looking at the inspection stickers in the lower driver’s side corner of your windshield.
Yes. You can get your inspection done up to 90 days before the final deadline. A good rule of thumb is that you can get it done any time not only in the calendar month in which it is due, but also in the two calendar months prior. So if your vehicle is due for inspection in July, you can get it done as early as May.
Sometimes vehicles need major repairs before they can pass inspection, and major repairs can be costly. Getting your inspection done early will give you extra breathing room in case you need to save up money or weigh your options. If you do face major repairs, Tires Etc has options like our Bring Your Own Parts program and Interest Free Financing to help reduce costs and keep them manageable.
No. Let's say your inspection is due in August, and you decide to get it done in June. When the vehicle passes, you will still get new stickers for August of the following year.
The State Inspection and Emissions Test are almost always performed together at the same time, however they are two separate tests with separate criteria, and each are designated with their own sticker upon passing. This is why you have two inspection stickers on your windshield.
- Emissions Test: 1996 and newer vehicles are equipped with an onboard computer that controls all aspects of engine performance with regard to fuel, spark, and air. As long as all aspects of this computer are functioning correctly, then the vehicle’s emissions meet federal standards. However, if any of the computer’s sensors or relays are malfunctioning, they need to be repaired or replaced for the vehicle to be considered federally compliant. The emissions test is a state mandated test of these computer systems.
- State Inspection: After the emissions test is completed, a comprehensive safety evaluation of the vehicle is performed. This safety evaluation is what is commonly referred to as the “State Inspection,” or more properly the “State Safety Inspection.” This inspection tests a number of the vehicle’s various components for safety and performance, which will be discussed in further detail below.
First, the technician does a visual inspection of the vehicle’s relevant emissions components. Once the technician is satisfied that everything is in place, the vehicle’s gas cap is tested to ensure that it is airtight. Finally, a computerized emissions tester is plugged into the vehicle which runs a full set of On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) tests. If everything is functioning as it should, the emissions tester will report no errors and the vehicle has passed the Emissions Test. If anything is malfunctioning, the emissions tester will deliver an error code which is used to identify what repairs are needed. These computerized emissions testers are regulated by the PA Department of Transportation and are quality tested for accuracy twice a year.
From the PA Department of Transportation website:
- Safety inspections for passenger cars and light-duty trucks require that the following items be checked: suspension components, steering, braking systems, tires and wheels, lighting and electrical systems, glazing (glass), mirrors, windshield washer, defroster, wipers, fuel systems, the speedometer, the odometer, the exhaust systems, horns and warning devices, the body, and chassis.
Depending on your county and/or vehicle type, additional testing may be required. Call your local Tires Etc location or visit the DoT link above for more information.
If your vehicle fails the Emissions Test, you will be told what repairs are needed in order for it to pass. You will then need to have these repairs completed, and have the vehicle re-tested. You can either have the repairs done at the original inspection station where you first had the vehicle tested, or you can have them done elsewhere. In either case, you are entitled to one free re-test at the original inspection station, as long as you bring it back within 30 days. If you bring the vehicle back after 30 days, a re-test fee will apply.
Much like the Emissions Test, if your vehicle fails the State Inspection, you will be told what repairs are needed in order for it to pass. You can choose to have the repairs done at the original inspection station, or to take the vehicle elsewhere. If you choose to have the repairs done at the original inspection station, no re-test should be necessary. If you choose to have the repairs done elsewhere (or do them yourself), and then bring the vehicle back to the original inspection station, the vehicle will have to be re-tested and a re-test fee will apply.
Other than the vehicle, just your current registration and insurance card. That's it!