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All About State Inspections

Getting a state inspection is like going to the dentist. It’s something you need to do once a year; it’s a hassle even in the best of times; and there are consequences for failing to follow through with it. No one wants a cavity — and no one wants a hefty fine!

Why are there such costly repercussions for failing to have your car inspected? Because without a state inspection, you can’t register your vehicle. And without a registration, you’re driving against the law, just waiting to get caught and ticketed. Legally, a little absent-mindedness can take you a long way down the wrong road.

State Inspections: An Environmental Concern

State inspections have been around since a voluntary safety program enacted in Massachusetts in 1926. (That’s close to 90 years ago, for those counting!) Since then, vehicles have obviously progressed — and so have inspections. Most people know that inspections cover safety standards. But they are also designed to check emissions standards. — regulations that protect the environment by ensuring that vehicles are not polluting the air. All that exhaust coming from your car’s exhaust pipe will turn into acid rain and air pollution if it’s not controlled. That’s why inspections exist.

The most recent vehicle emissions standards established in North Carolina were a result of the Clean Smokestacks Act in 2002. This legislation, while primarily aimed at coal plants, also required a reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxide. Nitrous oxide is in your car’s exhaust, and it’s a primary pollutant in North Carolina. In order to keep North Carolina’s air quality up to federal standards set under the federal Clean Air Act of 1990, the state must regulate it.

Keeping the Roads Safe

Emissions standards are federally regulated, but state safety inspections are a state’s prerogative. And like states themselves, state inspection laws can differ in quirky ways. Here in North Carolina, for instance, cars 35 years old or older don’t have to be inspected!

So what are safety inspections checking? A number of systems. Your brakes, headlights, accessory lights, turn signals, steering and windshield wipers are among them. If you have a Check Engine light on, then one of our ASE certified technicians will need to diagnose and fix the problem before your car can pass. Safety inspections are just designed to keep you safe; they keep other drivers safe. If your brake lights don’t work and someone plows into you from behind, both of you could be hurt!

Licensed Independent Inspection Stations

In some states, inspections are required to be done in governmental inspection stations. North Carolina, however, licenses independent inspection stations — and Chapel Hill Tire is one of them! Next time that registration renewal rolls around, you’ll know where to go.

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