Pennsylvania State Inspection for Your Vehicle - Everything You Need To Know

Pennsylvania is one of the many states that has a vehicle inspection program. The PA state auto inspection program has two primary purposes.

First and foremost, it promotes highway safety by ensuring vehicles are in good working condition. Vehicle safety inspections play an important role in the prevention of accidents and fatalities. By identifying and removing unsafe vehicles from the road, potential accidents are being prevented. A Pennsylvania DOT study determined that states with vehicle inspection programs had fewer fatal crashes compared to states without a program, and therefore the benefits outweigh the costs.

The PA state car inspection program also helps keep the air clean through emission checks. It’s part of a larger federal program aimed at reducing air pollution.

Failing to Follow the PA State Inspection Guidelines

An inspection will cost you a little bit up front, but if you don’t abide by the required PA state inspection guidelines there are serious and expensive consequences. Penalties for failing to follow the guidelines are found under 75 Pa.C.S. §4730(c) of the Pennsylvania Code.

  • Displaying a fake inspection sticker or a sticker that belongs to another vehicle is a $100 fine for the first offense and $200-500 and/or 90 days in jail for subsequent offenses.
  • If you drive with an expired inspection sticker you can be cited and fined.
  • There aren’t any PA state inspection license renewal issues, but vehicle registration renewal can be denied.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Can I Get My Car Inspected in PA?
What is Checked During a PA State Car Inspection?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation oversees the program and establishes the PA state inspection guidelines. The regulations state not only what is inspected but also where vehicles are inspected. Only official PennDOT Inspection Stations like Jack Williams can perform vehicle inspections.

Based off of the county you reside in, some rules and regulations may be slightly different. It is best to always ask us any specific questions you may have and we can provide you the correct information that abides to state and county laws. See below for an overview of what is checked during your vehicles state inspection each year.

PA State Inspection Requirements

What is checked during PA State Inspection? The list below provides a high level overview of what the certified technician inspects on a vehicle during state inspection. Additional components may be checked and required that are not listed here. Call us or text us through our web chat if you have any specific questions.

  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Braking systems
  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Lighting
  • Electrical systems
  • Glazing (glass)
  • Mirrors
  • Windshield washers
  • Defroster
  • Wipers
  • Fuel systems
  • Speedometer
  • Odometer
  • Exhaust system
  • Horns
  • Warning devices
  • Body of the vehicle
  • Chassis
  • Turn signals
PA Emissions Testing

How old is your vehicle? An emissions inspection is also required on all UNDER 9K LBS vehicles produced since 1975. For vehicles that were produced between 1975 and 1995, a visual inspection is done to ensure the original emissions equipment is in place and operating as it should. There will also be a gas cap test. Vehicles that are from 1996 and newer will undergo an additional OBDII test to check the computer system.

The only vehicles that are exempt from the emissions testing are those that have been driven less than 5,000 miles in the previous year. And have been owned by the same person for that year.

The personal automobiles that are on our streets and highways contribute about one-third of Pennsylvania’s pollution problem. While all cars emit some pollution, a poorly maintained car will emit more. The emissions inspection program was developed by the DOT and EPA with input from the public and various representatives of the auto industry to meet Pennsylvania’s air quality improvement initiatives.

One way to tell your vehicle isn’t meeting emissions guidelines is dark colored smoke from the exhaust pipe. These vehicles can generate 10 to 15 times more pollution than vehicles which are running with the proper air to fuel ratio and which have factory emission systems in place. A properly operating gasoline-powered vehicle does not emit visible smoke once it’s warmed up. Visible smoke after a brief warm-up period indicates an engine malfunction that needs to be checked out.

Different colors of smoke indicate different gas engine problems:

Smoke Color Diagnosis Probable Causes


Coolant leaking into combustion chamber

Bad head gasket

Cracked block or cylinder head


Engine is burning oil

Oil leaking into combustion chamber

Worn piston rings, valves or cylinders

Bad exhaust manifold

Bad head gasket


Incomplete fuel combustion

Clogged air filter

Carburetor, choke, fuel injection, or emission system malfunction

Engine’s air to fuel ratio is incorrect

It’s important to follow the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. Failing to maintain your car or ignoring your dashboard “check engine” light can cost you in future repairs, reduce the number of miles you get per gallon and pollute the air.

If the emissions inspection is required for your vehicle it’s done once a year at the same time as your annual safety inspection. Each county has its own vehicle emission standards. Before doing the test, make sure your inspection station is qualified to conduct the test for the county where your vehicle is registered.

What Happens If a Car Doesn’t Pass a PA State Vehicle Inspection or Emissions Test?

Did your car fail one of the inspection requirements or emissions test? Unfortunately, vehicles that don’t pass can’t legally be driven. Correcting any of the issues that causes your vehicle to fail PA State Inspection is the best way to get back on the road. Some shops will pass a vehicle even though it does not meet the inspection requirements. This is fraudulent and the shop risks losing their license. At Jack Williams, we ensure your vehicle is safe for you to drive for the next year. Let us handle any issues your vehicle may have now, so when it comes time for inspections, your service bill will not be as expensive.

Safety Inspection Retesting

If your vehicle doesn’t pass the safety inspection, the inspector will show you why, and the inspection station will give you an estimate for what it will cost to get your vehicle to pass inspection.

You can get the vehicle repaired at the inspection station, another shop of your choosing or handle the work yourself. If you get the repairs done at the inspection station there’s no need for a retest. If the repairs are done elsewhere you’ll need to bring the vehicle back to the inspection station for retesting and pay an additional fee.

Emissions Retesting

Vehicles from 1996 and newer will pass the emissions test if the onboard computer that controls related components is operating correctly. If any of the sensors or relays are faulty your vehicle will fail. The faulty parts will have to be replaced or repaired before you can pass the emissions test.

Once the repairs are made your vehicle will need to be retested. As long as the vehicle is brought back to the original inspection station within 30 days the retesting is free.

How much does it cost for PA State Inspections and Emissions Testing?


Current Specials



Rеceive $30 Off PA STATE INSPECTION at Jack Willams this month.

Enter code: STATE30 at checkout.

Not valid with other specials discounts or сouрons. Must present valid email address at time of write-up. Does not include Emissions testing.

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