Utah no longer mandates a safety inspection requirement for most vehicles. On January 1, 2018, the state removed the safety inspection requirement as a prerequisite for registration of most vehicles. The types of vehicles that still require a safety inspection include: salvage vehicles that have been rebuilt and request a rebuilt title; first-time, street-legal ATV registrations, including ownership transfers for previously registered street legal ATVs; and commercial vehicles. A commercial vehicle does not need a safety inspection as a prerequisite to registration, but must have a safety inspection for display and for presenting to law enforcement.
Inspections for Salvage Vehicles
A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that has been damaged by collision, flood or another event to the extent that the repair costs exceed the vehicle’s fair market value. A vehicle that an insurer or other state jurisdiction has declared a salvage vehicle, but has not precluded from vehicle registration and titling, is also a salvage vehicle. A rebuilt or restored vehicle is a salvage vehicle that has been repaired and restored to operation. The only type of salvage vehicles that require a safety inspection in Utah are those that have been rebuilt and request a rebuilt title; the other types of salvage vehicles do not require inspections.
Other Vehicles Requiring Safety Inspections
Other types of vehicles that must pass a safety inspection in Utah include: school buses, buses or vans for hire, taxicabs, ground transportation service providers, and vehicles that transport passengers for hire where the pickup and drop-off occurs at the Salt Lake City International Airport. In addition, any motor vehicle with three or more axles, pulling a trailer or pulling a trailer with multiple axles must pass a safety inspection. School buses, buses or vans for hire, and taxicabs and ground transportation service provider vehicles need to pass safety inspections annually and display the safety inspection certificate or sticker.
Charges for Safety Inspection
State law limits the maximum charges for safety inspection. Charges are $14 for motorcycles and street-legal ATVs, $30 for passenger cars and light trucks, and $30 for trailers. The charge is $40 for four-wheel drive, split-axle, heavy duty trucks, buses and any vehicle that requires disassembly of the front hub or removal for the rear axle for inspection.
Emission Inspection Requirements
Vehicles registered in five counties in Utah: Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber, are required to have an emission test if their model years are more than six years old. Such vehicles in these counties must have an emission test once every two years. A vehicle that has an even-numbered model year must have an emission test in an even-numbered year. A vehicle that has an odd-numbered model year must have an emission test in an odd-numbered year.
There are exemptions to the emissions test. These include new vehicles with a Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO), farm vehicles, motorcycles and motor driven cycles, electric vehicles, tactical military vehicles, vintage and custom vehicles, off highway vehicles, vehicles used for maintenance or construction and not designed or licensed to operate on the highway, and diesel vehicles 1997 and older with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 lbs.
Counties differ as to whether a vehicle of model year 1968 needs an emissions test. In Cache County, a vehicle of model year 1968 does not need an emissions test. In Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties, a vehicle of model year 1968 does need an emissions test. In all five of the listed counties, vehicles of model year 1967 and older are exempt from the emissions test.
Fees for Emissions Inspections
The owner of a vehicle must pay a fee to the station for an emissions inspection. This fee is $20 in Cache County and $30 in Weber County, with no fee limit in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties. There is no limit in these three counties because the fees there are self-regulated. The average fee in Salt Lake and Utah counties is $25.
An owner must also pay an inspection fee to the county for its emissions program. The fee is $3 in Cache, Davis and Salt Lake counties, $2 in Utah County and $1 in Weber County. The county fee is due whether an emissions certificate is required or not.
Dealers and Inspection Requirements
A dealer must make sure a vehicle meets inspection requirements before the vehicle is sold. The dealer must provide a copy of the emissions certificate to the customer at the time of sale. Emissions testing should be done within 11 months prior to sale. An emission inspection may be made no more than two months before the renewal of registration. The emission certificate must be submitted to the appropriate Utah Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office as a condition of registration.
When a vehicle will not pass the emissions inspection because a dealer did not fix a mechanical problem, the owner can file a complaint with the emission officials in the county in which the vehicle was inspected. If the dealer violated the law, the Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division (MVED) will be contacted. MVED may file a criminal complaint. An individual who is still operating the vehicle on the 45-day temporary permit may file a complaint with MVED.
Sales in Counties Requiring Emissions Test
All licensed Utah dealers must ensure that vehicles they sell to residents in the five counties with emissions testing requirements meet those requirements before they issue a temporary permit to the customer. Since emission testing facilities may not be available in counties where emission testing is not required, air quality administrators from the five emission-required counties have granted a limited emission test exemption.
When a licensed Utah dealer sells a vehicle to a resident of Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah or Weber counties, and the dealer’s place of business is in a non-emission county, the dealer must issue a temporary permit and provide the customer with a copy of Form TC-820, the Exemption Affidavit for Utah Emission Testing. The vehicle owner must then obtain an emission test certificate of compliance within 10 days of returning to their county of residence. The vehicle owner must also provide the completed Form TC-820 to their local motor vehicle office when they submit their application for plate, title and registration, and send the certificate of compliance and a copy of the completed Form TC-820 to their local department of health.
Vehicle/Hull Identification Number Inspections
The state of Utah requires an inspection of identification numbers for all vehicles and vessels titled in Utah for the first time. The exception is if the vehicle is new and was purchased from an in-state dealer or in-state manufacturer. A safety inspection is an acceptable way to verify that a car, truck or motorcycle has a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that is accurate on the safety inspection certificate. A trailer, boat, off-highway vehicle and snowmobile require a separate Vehicle Identification Number or Hull Identification Number inspection. A Utah peace officer or DMV employee can complete such an inspection at a Utah DMV office for no charge.
Fines for Lack of Inspections
Utah has a 2021 schedule of fines for vehicle owners who do not comply with the automotive inspection requirements. The fine for failing to get a safety inspection for a salvage vehicle, commercial vehicle or a first-time, street-legal ATV is $50, with a $10 credit given with proof of the safety inspection. The fine for failing to get an emission inspection before a dealer issues a temporary permit is $340.
- Utah Division of Motor Vehicles: Vehicle Inspections
- Utah Division of Motor Vehicles: Inspection Requirements FAQ
- Utah Courts: 2021 Uniform Fine Schedule
- Utah Department of Public Safety: Safety Inspection
- Utah State Tax Commission: Exemption Affidavit for Utah Emission Testing
- Utah Division of Motor Vehicles: Salvage Vehicles and Branded Titles
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.