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Tips on How to Pass State Inspection

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Tips on How to Pass State Inspection

Created on: 2016-09-08

Find out how to check your lights, tires, mirrors, windshield, horn, suspension, and exhaust to pass your next vehicle state inspection

  1. step 1 :Checking your Lights
    • Turn the car on
    • Check the directional
    • Fast blinking can indicate that a different directional bulb is out
    • Check the parking lights
    • Check the headlights
    • Check the high-beams
    • Check the brake lights
    • Check the reverse lights
    • Check the license plate lights
  2. step 2 :Checking the Tires
    • Check the tire for cracks, dry rot, or gouges
    • Place a quarter upside down in the tire tread
    • The tread should cover the top of Washington's head
  3. step 3 :Checking the Mirrors, Windshield, and Horn
    • Check the windshield for cracks or pitting
    • Check the mirrors for cracks or pitting
    • Check that the windshield wipers work
    • Check that the windshield washer works
    • Check that the horn works
  4. step 4 :Checking the Suspension
    • Jack underneath the lower control arm
    • Move the tire up and down with a pry bar
    • Feel the top of the tire for clicking or grinding
    • Hold the tire at 3 and 9 o'clock
    • Shift the tire side to side to feel for tie rod play
    • Shift the tire around to feel for a loose wheel bearing
  5. step 5 :Checking the Exhaust
    • Run the engine
    • Listen for noises from the exhaust
    • Attempt to cover the tailpipe with a rag
    • If this is easy to do, that may indicate an exhaust leak

Tools needed for replacement

  • General Tools

    Floor Jack

  • Materials, Fluids, and Supplies

    Cloth Rags

  • Screwdrivers & Related

    Pry Bar

Installation Video
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Hi, I'm Mike from 1A Auto. I hope this how-to video helps you out, and next time you need parts for your vehicle, think of Thanks.

In this video, we're going to be working with our 1998 Toyota Camry. We're going to be talking a little bit about state inspections. Odds are, if you drive a car in the US, your state has some kind of safety and emissions inspection to ensure that all vehicles on the road are safe, roadworthy, and not creating harmful emissions gases. While these laws apply most specifically to our state in the video we're going to show you today, safety and emissions testing is pretty general across the board. We'll show you the proper way to jack up the front end of the vehicle to check your suspension, to make sure that everything's tight up front, and how to check your exhaust, to make sure that there are no leaks allowing emissions to get around the catalytic converter, or, even worse, into the passenger compartment of your car. While some things are simple, like checking lights, glass, and mirrors, some things require a code reader to make sure that there are no emissions-related codes or check engine lights inside the vehicle's computer. In our state, with this vehicle, being outside of 15 years, all we have to do is check it for safety.

Here's how most state inspections will go. They'll pull your vehicle into the bay, check your directionals, front and rear, with either another technician behind the car or a mirror of some sort, to make it easier for them to see. Clearly, we have one out. A fast blinker usually means you have a bulb out. Here we have our front blinker working, but blinking fast, so our right rear blinker is out. They'll make sure that your parking lamps work all the way around the vehicle, as well as the headlights, high and low beam, your brake lights, and your reverse lights. They'll also inspect that at least one of your two plate lights is functional and that the plates are clear and easy to read. Sometimes, the state inspection stations might offer to change your bulbs out on the spot to make sure you get a good sticker, but checking these things in advance and changing the bulbs yourself can save you time and money when you go to get an inspection.

The next thing most stations will check is the condition of your tires. What they're looking for is dry rot and cracking, any heavy gouges or cuts to the sidewall, and to check the actual depth of the tires themselves. Most shops will use a tread depth gauge. If you don't have one, a quarter will tell you if you're going to pass inspection. Right here, with it upside down, we're covering George Washington's eyes. All we need is to cover the very top of his head, and we know we have 4/32 of an inch, which is usually enough to pass.

The next thing we'll look over is the condition of our windshield and our mirror glass. You want to thoroughly inspect for any cracks or bulls-eyes. Our windshield looks free and clear of damage. If you have any small damage on your vehicle, you may still be able to get an inspection sticker. This particular windshield on another vehicle has a little bit of a bulls-eye here. Some states may allow this to pass, while others will see this as a reason to fail. Check your local laws if you have any questions about small damage like this. They'll also ensure that all three of your mirrors, if required, are free and clear of cracks or any discoloration making them difficult to see out of. They'll also inspect that your wipers work properly, as well as the sprayers, and that the vehicle has washer fluid in it. Normally, the shop will fill up your washer fluid, but it's always a good idea to have a full tank of washer fluid and check that your pump and sprayers work. They'll also check for proper operation of the horn.

Another thing they check is the condition of the front suspension components, this being ball joints, tie rods, and wheel bearings, if applicable in your state. They'll check these one of two ways, depending on whether you have a MacPherson strut or a short-arm/long-arm style front suspension. Ours has a MacPherson strut, so we'll be showing you how to check that. Since our vehicle has a single strut on the top, with no upper control arm, this means in order to check, we'll have to jack up from the lower control arm to relieve the load from the lower ball joint. Place a pry bar underneath the tire, put your hand on top, pry up. Make sure you don't feel any clicking or play from that lower ball joint. Ours is brand new. Also, grab the tire at 9 and 3 to check for tie rod play. Ours all feels good. We'll grab it in a few other places to feel for a bad wheel bearing. Then they'll repeat these stops on the opposite side of the vehicle.

To check for an exhaust leak, while the vehicle is running – While some may be more obvious than others, like our vehicle, which clearly has a very loud leak coming from under the hood, others will have to be checked with a rag over the tailpipe, which should normally blow your hand right back off of it. Ours, however, is easy to cover and has very little back pressure. We can hear all the places it's leaking out, meaning that we definitely have some leaks in our exhaust system.

Clearly, our vehicle has quite a few problems that we're going to need to correct before it's time to bring it in for inspection. Fortunately, all of these parts are available from, so we can make our repairs and go in for our sticker confident that we're going to pass.

Some things that your state might also check is window tint, as well as a plug-in test of the ECU to check for emissions-related codes, and to check for excessive metal or any damaged bumpers or fenders that could break off and put debris into the roadway.

Thanks for tuning in. We hope this video helps you out. Brought to you by, your source for quality replacement parts and the best service on the Internet. Please feel free to call us toll-free, 888-844-3393. We're the company that's here for you on the Internet and in person.

Tools needed for replacement:

    General Tools

  • Floor Jack

  • Materials, Fluids, and Supplies

  • Cloth Rags

  • Screwdrivers & Related

  • Pry Bar

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