If your car is registered in North Carolina, you’ll eventually need to find an inspection station near me for help. A safety inspection is required every year. In many locations, you’ll also need annual emissions testing. These tests ensure that your vehicle is safe to be on the road. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we can assist with all your North Carolina safety and emissions inspection needs.
North Carolina Safety Inspection Rules
North Carolina safety inspections must be done within 90 days of your license plate and registration expiration. In general, it makes sense to take your car in for an inspection during the same month every year. You’ll need to take your car to an official inspection station such as Kernersville Auto Center. Here’s what our licensed mechanics will check during your motor vehicle inspection:
- All exterior lights, including headlights, turn signals, and accessory lighting
- Brakes (both your normal foot brake and your parking brake)
- All mirrors, window tinting, exhaust system, and wipers (to ensure you can see properly while driving)
- The horn
We do not look at the visible condition of your car, so scrapes, dents, and other cosmetic issues are typically not a problem. The exception would be a cosmetic issue that also affects something we do inspect. For example, if you were recently rear-ended and the dent causes one of your turn signals not to work, you would need to have it repaired to pass inspection.
If you don’t have your car inspected, the state will block your vehicle registration. This, in turn, makes driving the vehicle illegal. The cost of inspection is just $13.60. The state sets this price, so inspection stations cannot charge more. The exception is if you have window tint applied to your vehicle. In this case, you’ll pay an additional $10 for the safety inspection.
Keep in mind that your motorcycle needs an inspection as well. We’ll inspect the same things to ensure it is safe to drive. You won’t be able to get a motorcycle registration renewal without a passing inspection.
Are you moving to North Carolina from another state? You’ll be able to register your vehicle without a North Carolina inspection. Your first North Caroline inspection will be due by the time you register your car next year. If you’re moving from a state that doesn’t require an inspection, we recommend bringing your car in for a tune-up so we can ensure it is safe to drive and there are no preventable issues coming down the pipeline. Preventative maintenance is key!
Your vehicle is exempt from inspection if it is more than 35 years old. So, if you have a classic car, you won’t need an inspection from the state. However, you can still come into Kernersville Auto Center for a tune-up, oil change, or other repair. We also have a great car wash to make your classic car shine!
Emissions Testing in North Carolina
You’ll need an annual emissions test in addition to a safety inspection if you live in one of the 22 North Carolina counties where they are required. You can see a full list of these counties here. Forsyth County and Guilford Country are both on this list, so if you live here in Kernersville or nearby, you probably need an emissions test.
You may qualify for an exemption in some cases. Light-duty vehicles that are less than three years old or older than vehicles manufactured before 1995 are exempt in most cases. You also don’t need an emissions test for diesel vehicles or farm vehicles.
If you don’t pass your emissions inspection, don’t worry. You have options. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles might be able to offer you a waiver. You have to meet the following conditions in order to get the waiver:
- Your vehicle passes the safety inspection but the on-board diagnostic equipment flags the emission inspection as a failure.
- The repair cost in order to pass your emissions test will be more than $200.
- Your vehicle fails a second emissions test, but again passes the safety test.
You can obtain an emissions inspection waiver from the License & Theft Bureau. You’ll need to bring documentation proving that you meet the three conditions listed above. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we can provide this documentation if your vehicle fails the emissions test and repairs will be above $200. Keep in mind that you cannot receive a waiver for the safety inspection, no matter how much the repairs will cost. You can only receive a waiver for the emissions portion, and the $200 amount must reflect what it will cost to repair the emissions problem, not other issues.
An emissions inspection costs $30 here in North Carolina. As with the safety inspection fee, this price is set by the state and we cannot change it or offer discounts.
Window Tinting In North Carolina
In North Carolina, you can have your windows tinted as long as you meet certain requirements. After-factory window tinting must be inspected annually. The limit for tinting is 32%, as measured by an official window tint meter. The tint on your front windshield also cannot extend too far down. The limit is 5 inches or the AS1 line of the windshield, whichever is longer.
Window tinting rules do not apply in some cases. The following vehicles can have tinted windows that exceed the normal limits:
- Motor homes
- Vehicles that transport people on sight-seeing tours, otherwise known as “excursion passenger vehicles”
- Police cars and other law enforcement vehicles
Additionally, there is an exemption for the rear window on property-hauling vehicles and some multi-purpose vehicles that carry 10 or fewer passengers. If you think your vehicle might be exempt, contact us before you apply the after-market tint. Otherwise, you might be wasting your money.
The state does also give out medical exemptions if you have a documented medical condition requiring the tint. These permits are valid for five years and you’ll need to carry the permit with you in the vehicle. Additionally, you’ll receive a sticker to display on your window, noting that you have an exemption. This sticker prevents you from fines when driving a vehicle with heavily tinted windows.
What If You Fail an Inspection at an Inspection Station Near Me?
Failing your vehicle inspection isn’t the end of the world. Often, vehicles fail for minor problems. If this happens, we can complete the required repair quickly and give you a passing score. Sometimes, it is as easy as changing a light bulb.
However, sometimes the repairs will cost more money or you might need some time to complete the repairs. When you pay for the inspection, you have 60 days to bring the vehicle back for a re-inspection at no additional cost. During the re-inspection, we only look at the components that failed the first time around, along with other parts that may have been changed during the repair. If you have the repairs done at Kernersville Auto Center, we can get your re-inspection done at the same time. It’s a super-convenient way to get back on the road.
Keep in mind that the 60-day grace period is only in regards to not having to repay for the inspection. However, you still need to have your car inspected in time to purchase registration. If you drive with an expired registration, you could get a ticket, even if you are within those 60 days. We recommend bringing your car for inspection well before your registration expiration date so you have time for repairs if needed.
Here are a few of the most common reasons vehicles fail inspection:
- Your tires are in bad condition. You need at least 1/16 inch of tread depth and no visible bumps or bulges that indicate an imminent structure failure.
- A windshield crack is obstructing your view. Contrary to popular belief, you can pass with a cracked windshield, as long as the crack is on the passenger’s side and doesn’t affect the wipers. However, a crack can lead to a shatter, so it is always best to have the crack repaired as soon as you can.
- You have old windshield wipers. They have to be able to clear rain and snow, as well as other common debris. If your wiper blades are ragged or torn, you’ll need to replace them.
- The steering belt is old and worn. If it is loose, you’ll need to replace it before you can pass the inspection.
- You have a burned-out light. We’ll look at all exterior lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, parking lights, and the lights around your license plate. If you have additional exterior lights, we’ll check those too. Even exterior lights that are not legally required have to work for you to pass. Your lights also must be mounted properly. When in doubt, we can change the bulb for you.
- The brakes are not working properly. This is actually very dangerous and one of the biggest reasons we are in favor of state inspections. In some states, inspections are not required. However, if you aren’t taking your car into an inspection station near me regularly, your brakes could fail while you are driving. If your brakes fail inspection, we can make an adjustment or repair. If your brakes fail while you are driving, you are in a dangerous situation.
Where to Find an Inspection Station Near Me
If you’re looking for an inspection station in North Carolina, look no further than Kernersville Auto Center. We’re an official North Carolina inspection station, which means that we are able to provide the inspection sticker you need to register your car.
We provide a full inspection report so you can understand what we checked during the inspection. Before repairing any components, we’ll go over the associated costs. Our technicians are happy to answer any questions. You can also take your car elsewhere to get a repair quote. Remember, you have 60 days to bring it back to our shop for a free re-inspection.
Here’s why most customers choose to have repairs done at our shop:
- Our mechanics are licensed and trained. We know exactly how to fix any problem with your vehicle. We have a team of ASE-certified technicians, not just people who tinker with cars. If you have your car repaired elsewhere, will it pass the re-inspection? Or will you have to make even more repairs for it to pass?
- We can get your repairs done quickly. Often, we are able to make the repairs same day. Therefore, you won’t have to take more time off from work to deal with vehicle issues.
- Our loyalty program helps you save money. You’ll earn points for any repair or service, which you can use toward car washes, oil changes, or discounts on future visits.
You don’t have to schedule an appointment to have your car inspected at Kernersville Auto Center. Simply drive in any time. Click here to schedule an appointment if you need other services at the same time, such as an oil change. Feel free to call us at 336-993-7697.