Vehicle Inspection

Car inspection is a process where a car is checked to make sure it meets government regulations for safety and emissions. It may be required at different times, such as regularly or when the ownership of the vehicle changes. 

J&S Automotive in Springfield MO offers comprehensive vehicle inspection. Our certified technicians have the expertise to properly inspect any issues, from simple checks of fluid levels all the way to larger repairs. All aspects of your vehicle are inspected, from tread depth on tires to a full engine diagnostic. 

State-Mandated Vehicle Inspection Requirements

In certain areas, a vehicle must pass inspection before a license plate or registration can be obtained or renewed. In other places, once the vehicle passes inspection, a sticker is placed on the windshield and law enforcement can enforce the inspection law by checking if the sticker is current. For vehicles without a windshield, such as trailers or motorcycles, the sticker is usually placed on the body of the vehicle.

In the United States, state governments have the discretion to decide if they will require vehicle safety inspections and the details of the inspection program. Not all states have such a requirement and some states that previously had it have discontinued it.

Under the Clean Air Act of 1990, states are required to implement vehicle emission inspection programs in urban areas that do not meet federal air quality standards. The specifics of these programs differ from state to state.

In Missouri, vehicles safety inspection performed every two years suffices and in the St. Louis area, there is an additional requirement for emissions testing.

The J&S Car Inspection Procedure

A regular responsibility for car owners is getting their car inspected. We explore what gets examined during the inspection and how it keeps drivers safe.

Exterior Car Inspection

An exterior car inspection involves a mechanic inspecting the outside of a vehicle. In some states, mechanics performing car inspections must have certain certifications. The specific process and criteria for inspections may differ based on the state. Typically, the exterior of the car, such as lights, tires, and body condition, are examined first. For more information on inspection requirements in your area, you can check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Lights and Reflectors

During a car inspection, the condition of the lights and reflectors are usually checked to ensure the safety of the driver and other drivers on the road. This includes the headlights, taillights, hazard lights, turn signals, brake lights and license plate lights. They must be in good working condition and bright enough to be easily seen. It is important to ensure that the driver is able to see the road at night and signal when stopping or turning.


Mirrors on the rear and sides of a car allow the driver to view what’s approaching from behind. These mirrors are crucial for safely making lane changes, and they must be functional and in good condition to pass vehicle inspections.

The Windshield

The windshield of your vehicle should be clear and free of any damage such as chips, cracks, or scratches. Inspections typically check for these issues as they can potentially lead to more significant problems in the future.

Car Wipers

Windshield wipers are an important component in maintaining clear visibility through the windshield. They should effectively remove debris and prevent streaking. A vehicle will typically fail inspection if its wipers are not functioning properly.


Small damages such as dings and dents are generally not considered when conducting a vehicle inspection. However, if the damage is significant, it may affect the vehicle’s ability to pass inspection.

Interior Car Inspection

Inspectors check for the following in the interior of the car:


Seatbelts are an important safety feature that can greatly reduce the chance of serious injury or death in a car accident, as per data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To pass the seatbelt point of inspection, seatbelts must be easily accessible, in good condition and the locking and retraction mechanisms must work properly.


As part of an interior inspection, the airbags, including the front and side airbags, will be checked to ensure that they will properly deploy in case of a collision.


During an inspection, the steering wheel and the alignment of the steering column will be examined. Steering failure can be very dangerous and any worn parts or misalignment will need to be fixed before passing the inspection.

Mechanical Inspection

During a mechanical inspection, the engine, brakes, fluid leaks, exhaust and emissions, and transmission are typically checked.

The Engine

The engine, the power source of the vehicle, will be inspected, and if the “check engine” light has been on, it will be diagnosed.


The brakes, a crucial safety feature, will be examined to ensure they are not worn down, and brake fluid leaks and emergency brakes will also be checked.

Fluid leaks

Any fluid leaks, such as engine oil or coolant, will be inspected as they can result in a failed inspection.


Emissions testing regulations vary by state and the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can provide information on emissions standards for the specific state.

Transmission system

The transmission system will also be checked, which may include a simple drive test or a more extensive investigation if an issue is detected.

Framework Inspection

The structural framework of the vehicle, known as the chassis, will typically also be examined during an annual car inspection. This stage of inspection typically includes checks on:


The suspension system in your vehicle helps to provide a comfortable ride, even on rough roads. It is typically checked by technicians to ensure that the springs and shock absorbers are functioning properly.


The tires are the point of contact between your vehicle and the road. Mechanics generally assess the tread wear on the tires to ensure that you have enough to maintain a safe grip on the road surface. They may also check the condition of your spare tire.

Axles and Frames

The mechanic will check the axles to make sure they are working properly and don’t need any repairs. They will also check for visible damage to the car’s frame and fix it if necessary before the car inspection.

Importance of car inspection

Every company should take road safety seriously and employ different methods to ensure that their drivers can reach their destination safely. Daily vehicle pre-use checks shouldn’t be performed just for compliance. They are an effective and simple way to detect potentially dangerous defects and issues before vehicles get on the road.

Saving on gasoline expenses can be achieved by identifying issues that lead to higher fuel consumption through daily pre-use vehicle checks. Additionally, performing these checks can also help keep insurance costs low by preventing the operation of faulty vehicles, reducing workplace injury rates and avoiding higher premiums for workers’ compensation and health plans. Furthermore, regular maintenance and inspections can prolong the life of vehicles by reducing repair costs and maximizing their value.

The importance of preventative maintenance cannot be overstated as it helps to prevent small problems from becoming larger and more expensive ones, and also helps to decrease the downtime of vehicles. It is an effective way to ensure that vehicles are running at their best and maximizing their service. 

Regular inspections also help to limit liability exposure by providing a document of a pre-use inspection in case of an accident, protecting the owner from non-compliance penalties and fines. Additionally, good customer satisfaction is crucial for a company’s reputation and regular vehicle maintenance leads to fewer breakdowns and timely service delivery, which helps to create a positive impression of the business and can lead to more customers, ultimately supporting the company’s revenue growth.

Vehicles That Need To Be Inspected According To Missouri Law

Safety inspections are necessary for many vehicles in order to register or renew their registration. However, there are some exceptions to this requirement which will be discussed in a later section. It is also important to note that similar to how a driver must be fit to operate a vehicle, the vehicle itself must also be in proper condition to be driven on the road. These inspections are valid for two registration years, unless the vehicle is sold. 

Vehicles with even model years, such as 2008, must have inspections when their registration expires in even calendar years, while vehicles with odd model years, such as 2007, must have inspections when their registration expires in odd calendar years. Inspection fees may vary but cannot exceed $12 (or $10 for motorcycles). If a vehicle passes the inspection, the inspection station will provide a certificate of inspection which is valid for 60 days. A vehicle’s registration renewal notice will indicate if an inspection is required for the next renewal.

The following types of vehicles are not required to undergo a safety inspection:

  • Vehicles that are within the first five years of the model year, regardless of change of ownership
  • Trailers
  • Vehicles used for intrastate commerce and registered with the Missouri Department of Transportation
  • Vehicles with historic license plates
  • Vehicles sold for junk, salvage, or rebuilding
  • Vehicles sold from dealer to dealer
  • Low speed vehicles as defined in Section 304.029 of RSMo
  • Vehicles registered for 26,000 pounds or above and registered for a period of less than 12 months. Note: these vehicles may be listed as requiring an inspection on renewal notices, but if registered on or after April 1st, an inspection is not necessary.

If your vehicle does not fall under the exceptions specified, it must undergo a safety inspection. This inspection can be performed at any authorized inspection facility.

Vehicle Inspection

Authorized Inspection Station

The rules for car inspections can differ depending on the state you live in. Contacting your state’s DMV can provide you with specific information about authorized inspection stations in your area. Knowing what is required during an inspection can help you prepare and make any necessary repairs beforehand.

Welcome to J&S Automotive for fast, affordable and quality car inspection services. Visit J&S Automotive for more.