North Carolina Car Inspection

Vehicles in North Carolina are required to go through safety inspections every year. Some counties require emissions checks, too.
Written by Tom Hindle
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
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All vehicles in North Carolina must have a safety check every year. Emissions checks are also necessary in some counties. 
Safety checks are mandatory at the time of registration or re-registration. Such checks are required within 90 days of the registration’s expiration date. In 22 counties, annual emissions checks are also required and are usually conducted at the same time as safety inspections.
Failure to meet safety or emissions inspection requirements could lead to fines or even a total rejection of your vehicle registration. To ensure that doesn’t happen,
car insurance
comparison and broker app
has compiled a comprehensive guide on vehicle inspections in North Carolina. 

What are the vehicle inspection requirements in North Carolina?

Safety checks are required annually in
North Carolina
, usually within 90 days of registration or re-registration. You must get one within 90 days of registering your car. 
Emissions inspections, meanwhile, aren’t always required. However, 22 counties expect you to get one annually, usually at the time of registration. Unlike some states, there aren’t any VIN checks in North Carolina, but it’s likely a VIN check could happen if you’re registering your vehicle out of state. 

Exceptions to the state requirements

While the vehicle test rules in North Carolina are reasonably strict, some vehicles are exempt, such as: 
  • Vehicles less than three years old or with fewer than 70,000 miles on the odometer 
  • ​Vehicles at least 20 years old 
  • Diesel-operated vehicles
  • Vehicles registered as a farm vehicle
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Where to get a car inspection in North Carolina

You can get a vehicle inspection in North Carolina at a DMV-approved station. They are located across the state. 

How often do you need a car inspection?

In North Carolina, you’ll need a safety inspection annually statewide—usually within 90 days of your car’s registration expiration. Yearly emissions checks are also required in 22 counties.

Finding affordable car insurance 

When you’ve checked off all of your testing requirements, it might be time to revisit your car insurance. Although you might have a good deal, we think you can do better! Make that effort by trying out car insurance broker and comparison service
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Not necessarily, but you might want to. Usually, the buyer goes through the inspection process, but it may be a show of good faith to get the car checked out.
Car inspections in North Carolina are relatively cheap. You can get both emissions and safety checks for less than $45 if you get them done at the same time.
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