Texas Car Inspection Laws

Laws | February 26, 2021

Texas drivers have several responsibilities they need to uphold, from having the right car insurance to obtaining regular vehicle inspections. All drivers must receive regular safety inspections to check for factors such as brake efficiency or head lamp quality. Depending on the type of vehicle they own, drivers may need to receive an emissions test in addition to their safety inspection.

Texas Car Inspection Laws

Safety Inspection Requirements for Texas Drivers

All Texas drivers must receive an annual safety inspection before they renew their vehicle registration. If you are a Texas resident, you can receive your inspection at any state-approved inspection station. The cost for a passenger vehicle safety inspection in Texas is $25.50, which is due at the time of your registration renewal.

The entire safety inspection takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. During the process, the inspector will typically test the following:

  • Brakes
  • Mirrors
  • Tires
  • The steering mechanism
  • Head, tail, and stop lamps
  • The exhaust system
  • Turn signals
  • Windshield wipers

If you recently moved to Texas, you must register your vehicle within 30 days of relocating. This means that you must receive your safety inspection within this 30-day time frame. Since Texas does not recognize out-of-state inspections, you will need to visit one of the state-approved inspection centers. You can view a complete list of these stations on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website.

Which Vehicles Need a Texas Emissions Test?

In addition to the safety inspection, your vehicle may need an emissions test. Each inspection station sets its own fee for emissions testing; the fee typically ranges from $15 to $30 on top of the safety inspection cost.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the following vehicles must receive an annual emissions test.

  • Any gasoline-powered vehicle
  • Any vehicle between two and 24 years old
  • Any vehicle registered in the following counties: Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Johnson, Kaufman, Montgomery, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Travis, and Williamson

Motorcycles and diesel-powered vehicles are exempt from emissions inspection. If you fail your emissions test, you will need to receive repairs and undergo another inspection afterward. The state will not approve your registration renewal if you fail either test. It is very important to bring your vehicle to an inspection station well in advance of your registration’s expiration date in case you do need repairs.

Accidents Involving Vehicles with Expired Inspection Sticker

While Texas requires vehicles to receive regular safety and emissions inspections, not all drivers follow the law. Some drivers do not attend their inspections to avoid repairs and fees—but their vehicles may be too dangerous to operate. If you are in an accident with a car that has an expired inspection sticker, you may be eligible to hold the at-fault driver liable for your damages.

All drivers must uphold a duty to drive safely and follow all applicable traffic laws. Texas is a fault state, which means that drivers who cause accidents must pay for their victims’ crash-related losses. If a vehicle defect caused the accident, a driver with an expired inspection sticker violated state requirements, failed to uphold his or her duty of care, and is therefore liable for any resulting damages.

If you are in a collision with a driver who failed to receive his or her annual inspection, speak to a Houston car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will evaluate your case and determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit or insurance claim. After receiving medical attention, contact your lawyer to discuss your path to recovery.