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Will Your Car Pass Its Annual Inspections? Mechanic Insight

When you are due for your registration renewal, you might wonder, “Will my car pass the inspection?” Let the local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire put your mind at ease with a closer look at the annual car inspection process. 

What is an Annual Car Inspection?

In North Carolina, there are two inspections your car will require each year to renew your registration:

  • Safety Inspection: Every car is required to have a safety inspection. As the name suggests, this inspection checks to make sure your vehicle is safe on the road.
  • Emissions Inspection: Required in most counties, the emissions inspection checks any vehicle components designed to keep your vehicle’s production of harmful greenhouse gases in check. 

A Closer Look at the Annual Safety Inspection

One way or another, your car is going to try to warn you of a safety problem. You might be driving along when you notice that something feels off. Before deep-diving into the safety inspections, you might look for more surface-level signs of trouble:

  • Dashboard lights: The dashboard light system is designed to notify you of a problem. You can read our guide to dashboard lights here
  • Unusual noises: Grinding, shuddering, or squeaking noises in your vehicle might be a cause for concern. 
  • Performance changes: When your vehicle starts driving differently than usual, it could indicate an issue with a safety component. 

One thing to note: the safety inspection only checks for safety issues. For example, let’s say you are due for an oil change. Low oil might cause some of the above symptoms, and it is best to get this service done as soon as possible to protect your engine. However, because engine oil is not technically a safety component, it will not cause you to fail your inspection. Our safety inspection checklist here details everything checked during the inspection.  

4 Common Causes of Failed Safety Inspections

Worn Brake Pads

Naturally, your brakes are an essential component of vehicle safety. The most frequent service they require is brake pad replacement. If your brake pads are worn beneath 1/4th of an inch, you will need replacement service to pass your safety inspection. 

Light Troubles

Whether it be a failed brake light, extremely dim headlights, or a burnt-out turn signal bulb, light issues are incredibly common. All of your vehicle lights need to be working to pass your safety inspection. Thankfully, this solution is often a simple light bulb change. If your headlights are extremely dim, you may also need a headlight restoration service. 

Windshield Wipers

During heavy rain, what would you do without your windshield wipers? These vehicle components are essential to keeping you and other drivers safe. As such, your windshield wipers must be working effectively for a pass on your inspection. Most commonly, drivers will face worn, ripped, or ineffective wiper blades. Luckily, this is another easy fix. Windshield wiper blade replacements are a quick and easy solution to help you pass your inspection and stay safe on the road.

Low Tire Tread

Is your tire tread worn out? Tires use tread to grip the road—helping you start, stop, and handle your vehicle. Naturally, this is essential to your vehicle safety. If your tire tread is worn or visibly damaged, you will fail your safety inspection without replacing the tire(s). You can read our guide to checking tire tread depth here

4 Common Causes of Failed Emissions Inspections

Check Engine Light

Your check engine light is often telling you that your engine is having performance troubles, which are often tied to fuel waste. A check engine light can cause you to fail your emissions test. The solution here is to have a mechanic find and address the source of your check engine light. 

Stolen Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters work to lessen harmful emissions—in part with the help of precious metals like platinum. These vehicle components are unfortunately easy and lucrative to steal, making them a target of theft. These vehicle components can also fail naturally over time. If your catalytic converter is stolen or failing, you will be unable to pass your emissions inspection. 

Air-Fuel Mixture Issues

Your engine requires a mixture of air and fuel to power its combustion process. Too much fuel in this mixture will lead to unnecessarily high emissions. In most cases, an engine performance restoration will fix this issue.  

Clogged Engine Air Filter

Your engine air filter is responsible for keeping harmful dust, dirt, and debris away from your engine. When this filter becomes clogged, it will deprive your engine of vital airflow.  Suffocating your engine will also cause unnecessary fuel waste while putting your engine at risk. 

Chapel Hill Tire: Car Inspection Near Me

If you need a local car inspection, Chapel Hill Tire is here for you! Our experts will get you in, out, and driving happy in no time. If your car is at risk of failing the inspection, our full-service mechanics can take care of any services you need. 
Chapel Hill Tire proudly cares for the greater Triangle area with 9 locations across Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. Our expert mechanics also commonly serve surrounding communities, including Knightdale, Cary, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, Morrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment, browse our coupons, or give us a call to get started today!

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