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Safety Inspections

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A motor vehicle registered in North Carolina must pass an annual safety inspection before its registered owner can renew its vehicle registration. They can be conducted no more than 90 days before the license plate and registration expires. During a safety inspection, a licensed mechanic examines a vehicle's:

  • Headlights
  • Accessory lights
  • Directional signals
  • Foot brake
  • Parking brake
  • Steering
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Rearview mirror​
  • Windshield wipers
  • Exhaust system
  • Emission control components
  • Tinted windows, if applicable

Motor vehicles registered in 19 North Carolina counties must also pass an emissions inspection, conducted at the same time as the safety inspection.

Failure to get a vehicle inspected by the due date will result in a vehicle's registration being blocked until the vehicle is inspected.


Vehicles more than 30 years old are exempt from the annual safety inspection. 

Antique Vehicles
Vehicles 30 years old or older may qualify for an antique automobile license plate​. Those vehicles with an antique automobile license plate are exempt from both annual safety and emissions inspections. Antique plates should be used for vehicles primarily used for exhibitions, club activities, parades and other public interest events.​


Failure to Pass Inspection

A vehicle that passes a safety inspection but fails the emissions inspection and can't be repaired might be eligible for a waiver​.

​Learn More

2/13/2023 7:28 AM

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