woman mechanic installing a tire

Tips for Passing New York State Inspection

At my shop I tell customers they fail inspection on a regular basis. Usually these aren’t my regular steady customers – instead they are people coming in just for the New York State inspection. Most of them have no idea what could cause their car to fail this inspection. They leave upset and frustrated. I wrote this blog post to try to help educate you, as the owner of the car, so you can be sure your car inspection process is as seamless as possible.

New York State Inspection is made up of two categories, a safety check and emissions check. There are some things you should remember to check and things to know prior to getting your car inspected. The inspection is graded on a pass or fail scale. You are charged for the inspection regardless of whether you pass or fail. However, if you only failed one portion of the test, you’ll only have to pay for that when you retake it. Keeping the following things in mind will help you be sure that you won’t fail.

Safety First – $10

In the state of New York, most things that make you a danger to other people on the road will cause you to fail the safety portion of your inspection. Some of these things can be obvious. You would already know that severely worn brakes or a ball joint worn enough to be a safety concern won’t allow you to pass.

man holding up a wiper blade

Less Obvious Safety Failures

  • Wiper blades need to be operational and not torn or missing. The wiper blades allow you to see out your windshield when it is raining.
  • Rear-view and side mirrors must not be missing or broken. This includes shattered mirrors. Seeing behind you at all times is necessary to safely operate your vehicle.
  • Headlights and taillights can’t be cracked even if they are in working order. This also means they can’t be repaired with tape.

SUV with Dark Tinted Windows

  • Tints: on sedans all windows must have a light transparency of 70% or more. While this was always not legal, it wasn’t enforced and only a few years ago became a part of the inspection process. On SUVs the driver’s and passenger’s front windows need to have a light transparency of 70% or more but the rear windows are allowed with the factory dark tint.
  • Windshield may not have a crack of 11 inches or more in the area covered by the cars wiper blades.
  • Worn tires won’t pass inspection either. They need to have a tread of 2/30 of more. You can easily check that yourself with a tread depth gauge.
  • Your car’s horn needs to work.
  • All seatbelts must be in working order as well.

service engine soon light

Emissions – $27

First things first. If your check engine light is on – that needs to be addressed before any inspection can be done. Don’t waste your money getting the inspection and don’t for the love of G-d, clear the codes thinking it will pass because the actual light is not on. The computer tells all.

Here are a few way you other ways you can fail emissions without the check engine light being on:

  • You just changed your battery
  • Your check engine light was reset recently
  • Repairs were just done to repair your check engine light
  • If your car died recently
  • The car sits a lot because you don’t drive every day

Your car has at least eight self-diagnostic monitors that are checked during the emissions portion of NYS inspection. The general reason why a car will fail inspection for the above reason is that the monitors are not ready to be inspected. They have not gone thru the diagnostic cycle, so they can’t be tested. Changing your battery erases the information on all the monitors, same with the car battery dying. When you get repairs done to fix check engine light your mechanic will manually clears your car’s monitors to remove trouble codes.

obd 2 scanner

When in doubt, drive 150 miles before going in for your inspection. 150 miles is usually enough to make sure all your monitors are ready to be inspected. Be wary of any mechanics that say you don’t have to worry about fixing your check engine light and instead clear it. For the reasons given above this does not trick the inspection machine into allowing you to pass. This just makes your process longer. The only way they can help you pass is by doing something illegal or giving you a fake sticker and not registering it with the DMV. When you go to update your registration you’ll be out of luck.

Total Cost of New York State Inspection: $37

Remember: You can always ask your regular mechanic to do a pre-inspection check of your car to make sure everything passes. If you are a good customer they should have no problem doing that for you as a courtesy. A full detailed description of the inspection can be found on the New York DMV website.

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