How Long Does a Car Inspection Take – (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 20 minutes

Car inspections are an essential aspect of buying and selling vehicles. They are similar to other property inspections.



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Whether you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, performing an inspection is vital. Depending on your situation, it is essential to note that some procedures can take time and require you to be patient.

The time it takes to inspect a vehicle depends on the inspection policies of your state or city, the car’s model, its year of manufacture, the mechanic, and equipment used to complete the procedure. Strict inspection processes in some states may make the inspection last longer than expected.

How Long Does a Car Inspection Take

How Long Does a Car Inspection Take?

Car Inspection StepTime
Physical Status of the car20 minutes
Emission Test15 minutes
Exterior (Lights, Brakes, Tires)30 minutes
Interior15-20 minutes

During a car inspection procedure, the technician has to take the time to make sure nothing is unnoticed. A certified and experienced technician may take about 1 hour and 20 minutes to inspect your vehicle, and paperwork takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

If your car requires a lot of work, then it might take longer than this. The inspection takes time because there are several things involved, including:

Checking the physical Status of the vehicle

It consists of checking whether the physical parts of your car like lights, brakes, steering, suspension, fuel system, horn, tires, and exhaust are in good condition. It could take a technician roughly 15 to 20 minutes to complete this inspection, depending on his speed.

Emission Test

The Department of Motor Vehicles in some states has strict emission rules. Before you can legally drive your car, it has to pass the emission test.


Car inspectors check the license plate to make sure it is fastened properly and well lit. They also check the windshield and windows to find out if some chips or cracks might limit your visibility or compromise their integrity.

The technicians also check the wiper blades, windows, and doors to ensure that they are working correctly and do not have any damage. They also check the blinkers and exterior lights to ensure they are working as they should and do not require a replacement.


After completing the exterior inspection, the automotive technicians move on to the interior. They inspect the steering wheel and steering column to ensure that the wheels turn as they should.

They also press the horn to check its sound.

The mechanics also check the brakes. They inspect the brake pads to determine if it is necessary to replace them and the brake pedal to ensure that it does not go too low to the floor.

The mechanics also inspect the parking brake for proper operation. The other areas that mechanics check are the engine and chassis.

Why does a car inspection take that long?

A car inspection might take even longer in case of a failed inspection. A car can fail the inspection because of the following reasons:

Lights: Lights can fail to work unexpectedly. If a single bulb in your interior does not work, it could cause your car to fail the inspection.

If any light is not working, replace it with a new one before going for an inspection.

Brakes: If the brakes were not working during the test drive, then the technician will not approve of your vehicle. Before scheduling an inspection, ensure to refill your brake fluid to the required levels to avoid risking your life, and a failed inspection.

Tires: The tires may not look flat or feel soft when a mechanic is inspecting your vehicle. However, ensuring that they have enough air pressure is vital. Enough air pressure prolongs the lifespan of tires and reduces the chances of getting involved in an accident.

To be on the safe side, ensure you have a tire pressure gauge and a tire inflator in your vehicle.

Wipers: Windshield wipers may not seem like a big issue, but your car may not pass the inspection if you have poor wipers. Before heading for the inspection, ensure to replace and check if the wipers are moving as they should.

The time it takes to complete an inspection depends on how thoroughly the automotive technician completes the job. An inspection may include checking all the glass, tires, wipers, seat belts, brakes, and suspension as well as the exhaust system, among other items.

If the inspection involves a road test, then it can take as long as two hours to complete. Just moving the vehicle around and waiting in line can consume more time.


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