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Auto Inspection Rules in Pennsylvania

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires annual safety and emissions inspections to ensure that vehicles are maintained in a safe and environmentally-sound condition. Inspections can prevent vehicle failure and accidents, as well as pollution.

Inspection Stations

Vehicle inspections are performed at official PennDot Inspection Stations, which are typically a repair garage or a service station with a repair shop. Inspection fees are posted at each official inspection station and vary at the discretion of the station. Consumers are encouraged to comparison shop to find the lowest fees.

Safety Inspection Requirements

The Pennsylvania Equipment and Inspection Regulations require that registered vehicles moved upon a highway must bear a valid certificate of inspection. Vehicles owned by individuals are required to be inspected annually. Newly purchased vehicles must be inspected within 10 days of purchase.

To pass the safety inspection, the systems and parts of passenger cars and light trucks must be in "safe operating condition" as specifically described in the inspection rules. For instance, the suspension components must be in safe operating condition. Likewise, the steering and braking systems must be deemed safe, as must the lighting and electrical systems. The tires and wheels must be safe, as well as the glazing (glass) and mirrors. The windshield washer, defroster and wipers must be in safe operating condition. In addition, the fuel and exhaust systems must be checked for safety. Similarly, the speedometer, odometer, and horns and warning devices must be safe. Finally, the body and chassis must meet the safety requirements. The complete inspection procedure, including a list of the rejection criteria, can be found in safety inspection regulations.


If any any vehicle component checked during the safety inspection fails, the item must be repaired in order to pass a subsequent inspection. Inspection fees do not cover the costs of repairs.

Emissions Inspection

To prevent pollution, vehicles must also be tested annually for emissions. The inspection will be done in conjunction with the annual safety inspection and can be performed at any emission-certified PennDot inspection location. The emissions requirements depend on the county in which an individual resides, as well as the vehicle's type (e.g., car or SUV) and year. During the inspection, the technician will attach a cable into the vehicle's on-board diagnostic system, which will allow access to information that helps diagnose common engine problems that can lead to increased pollution. The tailpipe and gas cap will also checked. Finally, a visual anti-tampering check will insure that the emissions system has not been altered in any way.

As with the safety inspection, any problems related to the vehicle's emissions must be repaired to pass this aspect of the inspection.

Inspection Sticker

Once both the safety and emissions inspections have been passed, vehicles will receive an inspection sticker valid for one year from the month of inspection or one year from the expiration of the current inspection sticker on the vehicle. The sticker must be affixed to the bottom of the windshield on the driver's side.
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