Texas State Car Inspection Checklist

By Gail Sessoms
Some Texas counties perform safety and emissions inspections.
car open image by buddelchen from Fotolia.com

The Texas Department of Public Safety requires all vehicles registered with the state to undergo an annual safety inspection. Some Texas counties have dual inspections, which require annual emissions testing in addition to the safety inspection. The DPS provides to passenger car inspectors a checklist of items, in suggested order of completion, performed during an annual safety inspection. The emissions tests performed in 17 of Texas’ 254 counties follow a different protocol than safety inspections.

Financial Responsibility

The first item on the list for a vehicle safety inspection of a passenger car is to check for financial responsibility. The inspector confirms that the vehicle in insured and examines the current registration card and proof of insurance.

Operation and Visibility

The first eight items on the safety inspection checklist are the horn, windshield wipers, mirror, steering, seat belts, brake system parking for vehicles manufactured in 1960 and after, tires and wheel assembly.

Exhaust System

Whether or not the inspection is conducted in a county with dual inspection, the safety inspection includes a check of the exhaust system and, for vehicle manufactured in 1968 and after, the exhaust emission system.

Lights and Lamps

During the safety inspection, inspectors check the beam indicator, tail lamps, stop lamps, license plate lamp, rear red reflectors, turn signal lamps and head lamps.

Identification Numbers

The vehicle identifying numbers -- including motor, serial and vehicle identification number -- are checked and noted in the inspection documentation.

Window Tinting

Vehicles manufactured in 1988 and newer are inspected for adherence to laws regulating window tinting and coating. The DPS provides information on state laws concerning tinting of vehicle windows, window tint label requirements and applying for a medical exemption to tinting regulations.

Gas Caps

Texas checks the gas caps on vehicles that are two through 24 years old. The DPS considers this safety check to be part of the state's efforts to protect its air quality.

Emissions Testing

The DPS requires certain vehicles registered in any of 17 designated counties to undergo annual emissions tests in addition to the annual safety test. Gasoline powered vehicles, two through 24 years old, are among the vehicles required to undergo emissions testing. Texas performs three types of vehicle emissions tests: the accelerated simulation mode, or ASM, the on-board diagnostic, OBDII, and the two speed idle test, or TSI. The type of test used depends on the age of the vehicle and the county where the vehicle is registered or operated; however, 1995 and older vehicles are tested using the ASM or the TSI. Texas exempts diesel-powered vehicles and motorcycles from the emissions inspections program.

About the Author

Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.