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Texas Inspection Stickers

General One-Year Inspection Period

Except as stated below, the Department of Public Safety requires an annual inspection of every motor vehicle. The DPS sets the periods of inspection and may make rules with respect to those periods. By the sounds of backfiring and look of some dangling mufflers, some cars people drive should probably get a monthly inspection.

The exception referenced above is that the initial inspection period is two years for a passenger car or light truck that is sold in Texas, has not been previously registered in any state and, on the date of sale, is of the current or preceding model year.

This does not affect a requirement that a motor vehicle emission inspection be conducted during an initial inspection period in a county covered by an inspection and maintenance program approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. New or not, your car has to be looked over to make sure it's not causing a stink...

The DPS may extend the time within which the resident owner of a vehicle that is not in Texas when an inspection is required must obtain an inspection certificate in Texas. Being on vacation or “away on business” (wink, wink) when you're inspection expires could actually be a viable excuse for not getting your vehicle inspection and you might get an extension, but it most likely won't be a very long one.

Inspection Certificates And Verification Forms

The Department of Public Safety provides serially numbered inspection certificates and verification forms to inspection stations. So, trying to draw one of your own on a piece of copy paper and taping it to your windshield definitely won't fool anybody.

On being licensed, an inspector or owner of an inspection station provides for the safekeeping of inspection certificates and verification forms, safeguards the certificates and forms against theft, loss, or damage, controls the sequence of issuance of the certificates and forms, and ensures that the certificates and forms are issued in accordance with DPS rules.

An inspection station or inspector, on issuing an inspection certificate and verification form, must make a record and report as prescribed by the DPS of the inspection and certificate issued and include in the inspection certificate and verification form the information required by the DPS for the type of vehicle inspected.

Lost, Stolen or Destroyed

If an inspection certificate is lost, stolen, or destroyed during the period during which the certificate is valid, the vehicle must be re-inspected and any applicable fee paid before a new certificate is issued, except that the vehicle is not subject to any emissions inspection. The replacement certificate is valid for the remaining period of validity of the original certificate. Put the sticker on your windshield as soon as you get it so you don't lose it.

The Department of Public Safety specifies the method for establishing that the certificate has been lost, stolen, or destroyed and the re-inspection is within the period of validity of the lost, stolen, or destroyed certificate. The DPS has also adopted measures to ensure that the re-inspection procedure is not used fraudulently to avoid any required inspection. Trying to dodge all the red tape will just get you wrapped up in it like a bureaucratic mummy.

Re-inspection of Vehicle

If an inspection discloses the necessity for adjustment, correction, or repair, an inspection station or inspector may not issue an inspection certificate until the adjustment, correction, or repair is made. After the owner of the vehicle has the adjustment, correction, or repair made by a qualified person of the owner's choice, the vehicle is subject to re-inspection. The vehicle shall be re-inspected once free of charge within 15 days after the date of the original inspection, not including the date the original inspection is made, at the same inspection station after the adjustment, correction, or repair is made. That's why it's always good to have a mechanic in the family who you only ever talk to when you need work done on your car for free.

A vehicle that is inspected and is subsequently involved in an accident affecting the safe operation of an item of inspection must be re-inspected following repair. The re-inspection must be at an inspection station and shall be treated and charged as an initial inspection.

If a vehicle subject to the compulsory inspection of a vehicle is damaged to the apparent extent that it would require repair before passing inspection, the investigating officer must remove the inspection certificate from the vehicle windshield and give the operator of the vehicle a dated receipt. The vehicle must be re-inspected not later than the 30th day after the date shown on the receipt. It's like being shamed in the Boy Scouts and they rip your merit badge off your sash.

Vehicles Not Subject To Inspection

You do not have to get your vehicle inspected under Texas law if the motor vehicle meets one of the following conditions:

  1. The vehicle is a trailer, semitrailer, pole trailer, or mobile home moving under or bearing a current factory-delivery license plate or current in-transit license plate.
  2. The vehicle is moving under or bearing a paper dealer in-transit tag, machinery license, disaster license, parade license, prorate tab, one-trip permit, antique license, temporary 24-hour permit, or permit license.
  3. The vehicle is a trailer, semitrailer, pole trailer, or mobile home having an actual gross weight or registered gross weight of 4,500 pounds or less.
  4. The vehicle is farm machinery, road-building equipment, a farm trailer or a vehicle required to display a slow-moving-vehicle emblem under the Texas Transportation Code.
  5. The vehicle is a former military vehicle as defined by the Texas Transportation Code.
  6. The vehicle is qualified for a tax exemption under the Tax Code.
  7. The vehicle of which has been issued a certificate of title but that is not required to be registered according to the Texas Transportation Code.

Vehicles and Equipment Subject to Inspection

A motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer or pole trailer registered in Texas must have the following items inspected at an inspection station or by an inspector: tires, wheel assembly, safety guards or flaps (if required by the Texas Transportation Code), brake system (including power brake unit), steering system (including power steering), lighting equipment, horns and warning devices, mirrors, windshield wipers, sun screening devices (unless the vehicle is exempt from sunscreen device restrictions under the Texas Transportation Code), front seat belts in vehicles on which seat belt anchorages were part of the manufacturer's original equipment, tax decal (if required by the Texas Transportation Code), exhaust system, exhaust emission system, fuel tank cap using pressurized testing equipment approved by rule of the Department of Public Safety and emissions control equipment as designated by the DPS. Inspector Gadget and Inspector Clousseau are not permitted to conduct motor vehicle inspections for you.

A moped is subject to inspection in the same manner as a motorcycle, except that the only items of equipment required to be inspected are the brakes, headlamps, rear lamps, and reflectors, which must comply with the standards prescribed by the Texas Transportation Code. Not all vehicles are created equal. Just like people, some are cooler than others so they don't have to go through the same hassle.

Inspection Stations

A compulsory inspection of a motor vehicle may be made only by an inspection station; except, that the Department of Public Safety may permit inspection to be made by an inspector under terms and conditions the DPS prescribes and authorize the acceptance in Texas of a certificate of inspection and/or approval issued in another state having a similar inspection law.

The Department of Public Safety may execute any contract or instrument that is necessary or convenient to exercise its powers or perform its duties in implementing a motor vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program.

If you get a ticket for for an inspection sticker, our Texas Defensive Driving Course can help you get that ticket dismissed!