North Carolina State Inspection

The North Carolina state safety and emissions inspection processes are intended to keep unsafe and polluting vehicles off the road. The process works by requiring an annual safety inspection of all vehicles registered in the state. In addition to safety inspections, emissions inspections are also required on vehicles registered in 48 of the 100 counties across our state.


While these "Required Inspections" are time consuming and seen as a burden to many we'd like to point out the benefits that you may not think about. For about the cost of an average tank of gas your vehicle has a variety of items checked from one end of the car to the other. The state inspection process includes checking exterior lights and reflectors, wiper blade condition, belts, tires, brakes and the exhaust system just to name a few.*


Vehicles that are 1996 and newer that are registered in an emissions county may also be subject to additional inspection of their check-engine-light and on-board diagnostics system. While most lights on the dash are seen to be a nuisance it may surprise you to know that if the check engine light is on then your vehicle is polluting more than 1.5 times the federal standard for that vehicle. In other words, the engine is not putting out clean enough tailpipe emissions and there's a good chance that also means your fuel economy, engine performance or engine life may also be dropping.


The Emissions portion of the inspection involves plugging in to your vehicle and having the state computer communicate with your vehicle's computer. If everything is in good working order then the car passes and you're back on your way. In the event of a failing outcome though you'll be required to repair the condition, at a facility of your choosing, and have the vehicle reinspected within 60 days.


Both the Safety Only and the Safety/Emissions inspections help reduce pollution, keep our roads safer and help you stay informed about the condition of your ride. North Ridge Station is dedicated to performing legal inspections and helping customer's maximize their vehicle's efficiency and life.


*Limitations apply to what a mechanic is permitted to check for as well as how extensively that inspection may be. The inspection process must adhere to North Carolina G.S. 20-183.3


Commonly asked questions:

How much is an inspection?
-Safety Inspections cost $12.75 and if the vehicle passes then the "E-Sticker" costs an additional 85 cents.
-Emissions and Safety Inspections cost $23.75 and if the vehicle passes then the "E-Sticker" costs an additional $6.25.
-Certain vehicles with after-factory window tint are subject to an additional $10.00 fee.
-All prices are as of 2016.

How often is my inspection due?
-Every 12 months with very few exceptions

Can you tell me what's wrong without failing my car?
-No, North Carolina State law requires the inspector to start and finish an inspection with a pass, fail or not-ready-rejection outcome. We recommend having routine maintenance visits to help you find issues that may give you cause for failure when inspection time comes.

Can I just clear out my Check Engine Light and then bring the car over for inspection?
-Yes, we are required to perform an inspection on any and all vehicles presented for inspection (exceptions apply). You should know though, the amount of time you drive it to the shop will not be enough for certain on-board tests to run. Those on-board tests were what ran and failed causing your light to come on in the first place. The car's on-board tests will not be ran, not set to a "ready" condition and therefore you will still not get a passing inspection. We recommend having one of our qualified technicians address your check engine light concerns long before it's time for a state inspection.

If my vehicle fails what are my options?
-Have the vehicle repaired at a facility of your choosing, attempt to get a waiver (restrictions apply), or continue to drive it. North Carolina does not permit impounding or require towing-away of vehicles that fail inspection. However, you will no be able to renew your vehicle registration until the vehicle has successfully passed the inspection process. You have 60 days from the date of failure to have your vehicle inspected at the same station for no additional inspection fee. Upon passing you will be charged for the cost of the electronic "E-Sticker" assigned to your vehicle.



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