What Happens During Your Texas State Vehicle Inspection?

The State of Texas requires that all vehicles must pass an official state safety and emission inspection each year which allows us to drive like “Texans” on the state’s highways and byways.

The annual inspection helps to ensure that every car is fit to drive and in theory, will keep everyone safe on the road. It is also an opportunity to discover and fix any problems before they become a safety issue or larger problems. In 2016 the State of Texas implemented a One Sticker System, eliminating the inspection sticker and making the inspection required at the same date as the annual vehicle registration renewal. This means in order to renew your registration, you must first pass a state inspection.

What Will You Need?

When you take your car in to get it inspected, you will need to bring a few things with you, know, and understand that if you don’t have these basic items the testing station cannot legally perform the inspection:

  • Proof of Insurance – Any state insurance is acceptable, so long as it’s full coverage, if only liability insurance, it will need to be through a Texas provider.
  • Payment – The amount varies depending on the age of the vehicle, the emissions requirements for your vehicle, the county you’re in, and the type of vehicle you have. The most common fee in the DFW area is $25.50, and you will pay the fee, regardless of whether your vehicle passes or fails the inspection. If your car does not pass the inspection you can have the repairs done and take it back to the original inspection station for a free re-test, but it must occur within 15 days or the original test.
  • Driver’s License/Photo ID – Current and valid.

What Does the Inspection Look For?

The inspection can normally be completed in about 30 minutes, and the testing station will inspect the following items on a “passenger” vehicle:

  • Horn
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Mirrors
  • Steering
  • Seat Belts
  • Brake System (Including the parking brake)
  • Tires
  • Wheel Assembly
  • Exhaust System
  • Exhaust Emission System (beginning with 1968 models)
  • Beam Indicator
  • Tail Lamps
  • Stop Lamps (3 for 1986 and newer)
  • License Plate Lamp
  • Rear Red Reflectors
  • Turn Signals
  • Headlights
  • Motor, Serial or Vehicle Identification Number
  • Gas Caps (for cars 2 – 24 years old)
  • Window Tint

For information on other types of vehicles and general information check out this helpful Texas Department of Public Services link:


It is always recommended that you conduct your own pre-Inspection of the above items so that you can be sure to get anything fixed, or replaced, before your visit to the inspection station. This can help you avoid a possible failure and the time-consuming re-test and worst case if more than 15 days later another inspection fee.

Reason Vehicles Fail Inspection

Based on the list above, there are many reasons why a vehicle might not pass a Texas state vehicle inspection.

As with all things, cars can begin to succumb to the wear and tear over the years, and the likelihood that a repair is needed only ever increases with each passing day and mile. It all just depends on the age and condition/level of maintenance. Someone who only drives their car in-town to and from errands may not reach the point where repairs are necessary as soon as someone who uses their car to travel or has a particularly grueling commute.

All that being said, here are some of the most common reasons why people who have failed their state inspection:

  • Windshield Wipers Worn Out or Damaged – Maybe it just been dry in your area, or you like the challenge of driving in the rain with worn out blades, either way, bad wiper blades can sneak up on you. Check them out before you have to make a grocery store impulse buy at the checkout, or while your inspection hangs in the balance.
  • Window Tinting – This is a touchy topic and can be very subjective, but your new incognito look could cause a problem with some inspection stations. Check the DPS website for specific parameters to ensure your legal and have a razor blade in case of emergencies only.
  • Check Engine Lights – No matter the reason small-loose gas cap, to large—catalytic converter failure, this light will spell failure for your inspection. Have your check engine light diagnosed by certified mechanic well in advance of your inspection.
  • Burned-Out Lights, or Damaged Lights – If you will have trouble seeing the road at night, you will have trouble passing your inspection.
  • Inoperable or Damaged Parking Brake – If you never use it or have been working on your parking brake power slide maneuver you might want to have a certified mechanic inspect it before your state inspection.
  • Worn Tires – Tires should be on your check all the time list, not just state inspection time. Regular inspections will prevent uneven wear, possible blowouts, improve gas mileage and can ensure your safety.

Fifth Gear Automotive Can Help

If you are experiencing any the problems listed above, or just want to ensure your state inspection will go smoothly, Fifth Gear can help. Contact us today to schedule a pre-inspection inspection, and/or make the repairs that you are already aware of. Our technicians are trained and certified to handle most any repair, regardless of the vehicle’s manufacturer.


Call or go online to set up a reservation today at the link below:

Click Here To Schedule Service

Fifth Gear Automotive

We are a family-owned independent automotive repair shop. We have over 100 years of experience with all domestic and import makes and models, specializing in European auto repair. Proudly serving for over 14 years Lewisville, Highland Village, Flower Mound, Lantana, Double Oak and the surrounding communities. We have one goal; Complete Customer Satisfaction on all your auto repairs.