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The Ultimate Guide to New York State Vehicle Inspection

The Ultimate Guide to New Your State Vehicle Inspection

become an expert about vehicle inspections in New York

Driving on the open road with your windows rolled down and the sunroof open is an exhilarating experience. However, this is only when the air is relatively clear and free of dangerous exhaust gases and such from other vehicles (and yours).

Also, being safe when driving without the risk of accidents is another great experience. In New York State, this is thanks to the New York State Vehicle Safety/Emissions Inspection Program.

What are New York State inspections?

This is an inspection carried out on New York vehicles to confirm they are in good working conditions. It enables them to drive legally on public roads. This inspection takes place once every 12 months.

At the end of a successful inspection, the owner receives a sticker that shows they’ve been cleared to be on the open road.


Also, only a DMV licensed state inspection station can carry out an inspection and issue a sticker. Your go-to auto repair shop might not be licensed to do this.

Although a prior check by any auto repair shop to put your car in the right condition will increase your chances of passing the final, official inspection.

The Ultimate Guide to New Your State Vehicle Inspection

NYS Inspection Requirements

New York State Inspection Checklist

While most items to be checked on the vehicle can be done without any special equipment, they do require the eyes of an expert who is fully aware of what the law states regarding the correct standard.

Also, some items will require special equipment such as code readers in case of issues regarding the vehicle’s computer. This is another reason why an authorized license station is key.

NYS Inspection Fail List

Car inspection failures can be frustrating and costly for vehicle owners in New York State. In the following paragraph, we will explore the most common reasons why cars fail inspections, providing a comprehensive “car inspection fail list”. 

Understanding these potential pitfalls can help you avoid unnecessary repair expenses and ensure that your vehicle remains roadworthy and compliant with safety regulations. 

From issues with headlights to emission control systems, we’ll cover the top reasons that can cause your car to flunk its inspection, offering helpful tips to address these concerns before your next appointment. 

Stay tuned to learn how to better prepare your vehicle for inspection success!

1. Brakes

For the brakes to be thoroughly inspected, the inspector would have to remove at least one front wheel. The power brake unit, brake pads, lining, and rotors must be operating correctly without failure. Also, brake hoses and the master cylinder will be checked for leaks. The brake is tested to ensure a straight stop is achieved without much wheel pull.

2. Seatbelts

The Ultimate Guide to New York State Vehicle Inspection 1

These are checked for proper operation and adequate anchorage. Model years matter here as some years require at least one seat belt to be in use outside of the two front belt seat (Model years 1967 and 1968).

3. Lights

The following lights must be functional for your vehicle to be given the green-light here

  • Headlamps
  • Tail lamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Directional signals
  • Backup lights
  • Hazard warnings.


As for side marker lamps, parking lamps, and any additional flashing turning lumps on the side of the vehicle, you can take these under advisory and fix them if they’re faulty. However, they do not affect your inspection.

4. Windshield and auto glass

The Ultimate Guide to New Your State Vehicle Inspection

These are inspected for cracks or any other damage. For the front windshield, in particular, the area cleared by the windshield wiper must be free of cracks. Also, windshield wipers and blades are checked for presence and operation.

5. Mirrors

Mirrors are essential safety features on a vehicle, and their proper functioning and condition are vital for passing a car inspection. 

Rearview and side mirrors enable drivers to monitor traffic conditions around their vehicle, facilitating safe lane changes, merging, reversing, and parking maneuvers. 

Properly adjusted and functioning mirrors help reduce blind spots, allowing the driver to make better-informed decisions and avoid potential accidents or collisions.

Inspectors check mirrors for the following concerns:

  • Presence: Ensuring all required mirrors (rearview and side mirrors) are present and correctly mounted.
  • Condition: Assessing mirrors for cracks, damage, or excessive wear that could impair visibility.
  • Adjustability: Confirming that mirrors can be easily adjusted by the driver to provide an adequate field of view.

6. Steering and suspension components

The steering, linkages, and power steering functions are all inspected. Of particular interest is that the steering does not have excessive play. The front end suspension chassis frame and wheel fasteners are inspected for functionality.

7. Tires

The Ultimate Guide to New Your State Vehicle Inspection

All tires except the spare tire are thoroughly inspected. Tire depth, tire condition, and pressure must be up to standard.

8. Horn

A horn is an essential safety feature in a vehicle, and its proper functioning is crucial for passing a car inspection. It is included on the inspection fail list because it serves as an important communication tool for drivers, helping to alert other road users of their presence or potential hazards on the road. A malfunctioning horn can compromise the ability to signal in critical situations, potentially leading to accidents or collisions. Inspectors check the horn to ensure that it is functioning correctly, emits a sound loud enough to be heard, and can be operated easily from the driver’s seat, thus ensuring road safety for all users.

9. Tanks and tubes

Tanks and tubes play a vital role in a vehicle’s proper functioning and are essential components considered in a car inspection fail list. These components include fuel tanks, cooling system tubes, and hoses involved in various fluid transfers within the vehicle.

Fuel tanks store and supply fuel to the engine, making them critical for the car’s operation. Inspectors check for leaks, corrosion, or damage, as these issues can lead to environmental hazards and potential fire risks.

Cooling system tubes and hoses ensure proper circulation of coolant between the radiator and the engine, maintaining optimal engine temperature. Inspectors verify the condition of these tubes to prevent overheating or leaks, which could cause severe engine damage.


Emission Inspection for Cars and Light Trucks

This is often done after the safety items are inspected. In line with the 1990 Federal Clean Air Act, this is done to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles. If a vehicle fails an emissions inspection, it will not be registered or have the inspection license renewed as the case may be.

What happens after the inspection?

If your vehicle passes the New York State vehicle inspection, it becomes eligible for an inspection sticker or certificate that indicates all components are in good working condition and the vehicle is fit to drive on the open road.

What will cause you to fail an inspection?

If your vehicle’s safety items are not up to standard or if it fails an emission inspection, you’ll likely fail the New York vehicle inspection.

Despair not, you can simply repair the issue(s) and go for a reinspection. Once you pass, you receive your sticker and you’re free for the next 12 months.

The Ultimate Guide to New Your State Vehicle Inspection

NYS Inspection FAQs

1. How much are New York State vehicle inspections?

For further information on how much it costs to get your vehicle inspected please visit our NYS Inspection Cost Guide

2. What happens if your vehicle does not have a valid inspection?

You cannot renew the registration. Also, you can receive a parking ticket or a fine.

3. What service stations can do NYS inspections?

Only authorized service stations can carry out this inspection for New Yorkers. All of these stations must display an official sign displayed. You can check here on the DMV website for a list of automotive facilities regulated by the DMV including inspection stations around you.

4. Are car inspections still extended?

The extension expired on November 3rd, 2020. Police officers can now give tickets to drivers who drive with expired vehicle inspection stickers.

5. How Long Does A NYS Car Inspection Take?

A full NYS car inspection can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to complete. If there are no major issues the inspection will usually take much less time. 


Estimated time of  a NYS inspection

Reviewing documents: up to 15 minutes

Roadt test: Up to 30 minutes

Physical inspection: ~1 hours

Mechanical & electric inspection: up to 3 hours


Most safety and emmission inspections will take around 2 hours. If your vehicle is in perfect condition it might only take 30 minutes. 


In conclusion, the New York State Vehicle Safety/Emissions Inspection Program plays a critical role in ensuring vehicles meet safety and emissions standards, promoting a safer and cleaner driving environment. By addressing key inspection areas, the program helps to keep roads safer for everyone. Vehicle owners should stay informed about inspection requirements and maintain their vehicles in good condition, allowing them to pass inspections and contribute to a safer and more eco-friendly driving experience in New York State.

Leave A Comment Below

We’d love to hear from you. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions about NYS inspections and the like. 

Now that you’re an expert on NYS vehicle inspections maybe you’d also like to check out our bucket truck inspection service

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