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How Long Does a Car Inspection Take? Common Causes of Failure

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The time it takes for a car to be inspected varies depending on how many vehicles are waiting in line and the level of inspection carried out.

For example, if there are only two cars ahead of you, the inspection will take about 15-20 minutes.

This does not include the time taken to complete paperwork and wait for an officer’s approval (about 5-10 minutes).

If there is a long queue, the inspection can take up to 45 minutes or more.

There are various factors that may keep your car from passing inspection such as rust; missing parts such as bumpers or lights; cracks in windshields; exposed wiring; improper tire tread depth; etc.

The list goes on!

Make sure your vehicle passes inspection before going out on the road because it can mean the difference between a ticket and no fine.

Quick Summary: How long does a car inspection take? A car inspection could take 15-45 minutes on average to be completed.

How Long Does It Take A Dealership To Inspect A Car?

How Long Does a Car Inspection Take?

The time it takes to inspect a car at a dealership depends on how much is being inspected.

In general, a car inspection at a dealership may take up to an hour or more if there are many areas that need an inspection.

Dealerships typically have special sections for inspecting cars and their components.

For example, you will find separate areas for vehicles in different states of disrepair, such as junkyards with broken-down cars waiting to be picked up by tow trucks; another area for used cars with minor damage needing repair before going back onto the lot; etc.

The number of employees varies depending on how busy it is during any given day but most dealerships today employ between ten and twenty people who work together to make sure every vehicle leaves looking great!

What Keeps A Car From Passing Inspection?

why a car can fail inspection

A car could fail a safety inspection for the following reasons:

Tire & Wheel Condition

Old, worn-down tires won’t help you pass a safety inspection. 

If you have tires that are less than 20/32 of an inch or a worn-out tread depth, then your inspection will be delayed.

The safety check also includes the condition of your spare, so if you are not carrying a spare or it is flat, your safety inspection will be delayed.

The tires must meet specific standards set by law while all four wheels must not have cracks or visible damage.

Damaged Wind Shield Or Windows

Look for cracks, chips, and loose seals that could fail an inspection.

If you have a cracked, chipped windshield, you will need to replace the glass before receiving your inspection sticker.

Windshield wiper blades could also fail the inspection if they are worn down to where they no longer clean off rain from windows properly; these must be replaced immediately with new ones if you want your inspection sticker issued at all!

Any breakage in glass on either side window that doesn’t have an accident report filled out and submitted by the person who had their car repaired for this damage.


The paint on any car is checked during an annual vehicle inspection and must be in good condition with no peeling or visible rust.

If not complete this could fail the safety check of your vehicle.

Light Functionality

A safety inspection checks to make sure that all of your car’s lights are working properly.

If any of the lights are broken, it can lead to a car failing its inspection and may be unsafe for use on the road!

The car lights need to work including headlights, taillights, foglights, turn signals (including rear window wiper), reverse light bulbs on both sides of vehicle or trailer equipment if applicable for commercial use)

Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are very important especially if they leak onto hot engine parts that lie under the hood.

It’s best to clean up all oil spills from liquids as soon as possible so it won’t get into contact with other fluids such as antifreeze which makes a puddle underneath when mixed together!


Your car brakes are crucial to the safety and they must be in good working order.

This means no leaks, that the brakes are responsive when applied, and the brake pads are in good condition.

In order to pass inspection, your brakes must have at least 50% of their original effectiveness.

Your brakes are inspected thoroughly by a mechanic with specific attention paid to how much brake pedal pressure is needed before slowing down and stopping completely.

Braking effectiveness is then tested after several stops from speeds around 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).

Air Conditioning System

Your AC must also meet certain standards set by law which are that it cools off a vehicle’s interior within 12 minutes on a 90-degree day with an outside temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit while operating under normal conditions.

In addition, your air conditioning system can’t leak any refrigerant or oil onto the ground and should have no more than two pounds per square inch gauge (PSI).

Steering and Alignment

An auto mechanic will inspect all components of your car’s steering system. 

The steering wheel can not have any damage or wobble as well as the car must be able to turn freely without binding.

The alignment of your vehicle is also inspected and should meet manufacturer specifications for a smooth ride.

Exhaust System

The exhaust system on cars controls how deadly gases are released from the engine into the air, it’s crucial that this part of your car works correctly.

Your mechanic will look at things like leaks in welds, corrosion, leakage around hangers, and bumps under the muffler.

If you’re missing an oxygen sensor or heat shield then these need to be fixed before passing inspection too!

Seat Belt Functionality

Your seat belt must give no kinks or fraying.

The belt must also be securely fastened and not move out of position during the inspection process.

This is a criterion that typically gets overlooked when getting ready for your car’s yearly test but can lead to failure if they are found defective at this time.

Car Horn

Your car horn must be operational to pass inspection.

The horn should also make a noise that is between 82-92 decibels as required by state law.

Should You Get A Used Car From A Dealership Inspected?

A dealership inspection on a used car is required in some states.

If you’re unsure, contact your state’s DMV or the dealership to find out what regulations apply to used car sales there.

To save time and money when buying a new vehicle, buy one that was just released rather than purchasing an older model year of the same make and model because it will likely have been inspected more thoroughly than those cars sold prior to its release date.

Some states require dealerships to inspect all vehicles before they are sold as well-known safety factors could be altered during transport from another dealer.


How long does a car inspection take? A car inspection could take 15-45 minutes on average to be completed.

Make sure you check the key potential failures mentioned above and you should be fine.

It’s important to get a car inspected before you buy and in some cases sell a car.

In fact, its required by law in many states for vehicles to inspected.

You can find the list of mandatory states here.


Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase we will earn a commission.

Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases.

The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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