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When Should You Get Your Car’s State Inspection?

A passed NC state car inspection is essential to the tag renewal process. However, you do not want to wait until your tag expires before scheduling your state inspection. You will want to leave enough time for any services or repairs that you may need to pass your inspection. So here is a look at when you should get your vehicle inspected.

When Should You Have Your Car Inspected?

Annual vehicle safety inspections and emissions inspections should be completed within 90 days of your registration (tag) renewal. This is not required until the day your tags expire—but it is best to get your vehicle inspected sooner than later.

When Do My Tags Expire?

When you look at your license plate, you will notice a sticker in the upper right-hand corner with month and year listed—your license plate registration expires on the last day of that month

You should also get a renewal registration notice from the NCDOT with all of the information you need about this process. If you lost your renewal registration notice, you can find all of the information you need on the DMV website. 

Finally, you can check your current vehicle registration, which lists your registration expiration date.

FAQs: Do I Need a Vehicle Inspection?

North Carolina vehicles often need two inspections: a safety inspection and an emissions inspection. Let’s take a look at some common registration FAQs:

  • So can I skip my annual car safety inspection? The short answer is no—you cannot avoid your state safety inspection
  • What happens when you skip your inspection? Without your inspection, you cannot renew your registration when your tags expire. Having expired tags can earn you a ticket on the road and extra fees when you renew your vehicle. Safety inspections also help you catch safety hazards present in your vehicle, which can lead to problems on the road.
  • Do I need an emissions inspection? You may be exempt from your annual NC emissions inspection if you meet one of the following requirements:
    • 22 NC Counties: Emissions inspections are currently only required within 22 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. If your vehicle is registered in a county that does not require emissions inspections, you can skip this step.
    • Older Vehicles: Vehicles older than 20 years are exempt from emissions inspections.
    • Diesel Vehicles: Diesel-operated vehicles are also not required to get emissions inspections.
    • Farm Vehicles: If your vehicle is registered as a farm vehicle, it is exempt from this inspection.
    • New Vehicles: If your vehicle is less than 3-years old with fewer than 70,000 miles, you may qualify for an exemption. You can use the North Carolina Environmental Quality Exemption Calculator to see if you meet this exemption requirement.

NC Expired Tag Grace Period

Will I get a ticket when driving with expired tags? According to the NCDOT, you can drive for up to 15 days after your registration renewal date in North Carolina without getting a ticket. This window is a “grace period” to give you more time for your registration renewal. However, even though you will not get a ticket on the road, you will still qualify for late fees.

Vehicle Registration Renewal Late Fees

In North Carolina, your registration renewal late fee depends on how long your tags have been expired:

  • Less than 1  month: $15 fee
  • Between 1-2 months: $20 fee
  • More than 2 months $25 fee

What Happens When You Fail Your Vehicle Inspection?

While failing your inspection is not ideal, it is also not as bad as you might fear. You will simply need a service or repair to address whatever factor is causing you to fail.  Here is a closer look at everything checked during an annual NC safety inspection and the services you might need to pass.

NC Car Inspections at Chapel Hill Tire

When you are due for your next state inspection, visit your nearest Chapel Hill Tire location. We also offer trip checks to ensure your vehicle is ready to go on your next summer vacation. Chapel Hill Tire proudly serves the greater Triangle area with nine locations throughout Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, Apex, and Chapel Hill. You can make your appointment here online or give our experts a call today to get started!

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