car inspection

Do you own a vehicle that you use to get around Houston every day? If so, it is vital that you have an understanding of the car inspection laws in Texas. Fortunately, the Houston personal injury lawyers Brian White & Associates, PC, have all the information you need.

How Often Do Texas Vehicles Need to Undergo Testing?

In the state of Texas, all vehicles must undergo a thorough safety inspection on an annual basis. This testing must take place before the car’s registration can be renewed. There are no exceptions to this rule.

How Soon Do New Texas Residents Need to Have Their Vehicles Inspected?

Texas law states that all new residents must register their vehicles within 30 days of moving to the area. This statute means that their cars must undergo testing at some point before this deadline.

The Lone Star State does not recognize out-of-state inspections. New residents must ensure that they bring their car to an inspection center in Texas.

Where Do Car Inspections Take Place in Texas?

In the state of Texas, all annual car safety inspections take place at Texas Department of Public Safety-approved centers. Residents of the City of Houston can visit the DPS website to find the inspection stations that are closest to them.

How Much Does Vehicle Testing Cost in Texas?

vehicle testing cost

The additional $14.25 fee for car registration means that most Texas residents pay a total of $39.75.

The cost to have a passenger car, truck, or SUV inspected in Texas is $25.50. However, drivers do not pay this fee at the testing station. Instead, they submit it to the state when renewing their registration.

What Should Texas Residents Bring with Them to Their Inspection?

There are two main items that Houstonians should bring with them when they take their car in for an inspection. They are:

  • Proof of Insurance: Most inspection stations only accept in-state insurance documents. New residents may, therefore, need to update their policy before their test date. 
  • Photo ID: Inspection stations typically accept both in-state and out-of-state identification documents. However, they must be current and valid.

Inspectors regularly turn away drivers that do not have these vital documents.

What Happens at a Vehicle Safety Inspection in the State of Texas?

The annual vehicle safety inspection in Texas is quite thorough and typically takes about 20 or 30 minutes. During this time, inspectors examine the following parts of the car:

  • Mirrors
  • Seat belts
  • Steering
  • Tires
  • Wheel assembly
  • Brakes
  • Windshield wipers
  • Horn
  • Exhaust system
  • Tail lamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Headlamps
  • Turn signals
  • License plate lamp
  • Window tint
  • Gas caps
  • Serial number

When a driver’s vehicle passes this inspection, they receive a sticker to put in the windshield, as well as documentation to submit to the state when renewing their registration.

Common Reasons for Failing Annual Vehicle Safety Inspections

It is not at all unusual for cars to fail the Texas safety inspection. These failures are almost always caused by one of the following factors:

Worn Tires

Worn-out tires can cause Texas drivers to lose control of their cars on wet or icy roads – an issue that often results in death or severe injury. As such, if inspectors find that a vehicle’s tire tread is too low, they have no choice but to fail it.

Faulty Brakes

When emergency situations arise on the city streets and highways around Houston, drivers rely on their car’s brakes to help them avoid colliding with other road users. If a vehicle’s brakes are not working as well as they should, testers are all but certain to fail it.

Broken Lights

Driving around the state of Texas at night without fully-functioning headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, and indicators is quite dangerous. Therefore, when inspectors notice that a vehicle’s lights are broken or burned out, they cannot pass it.

Cracked Windows

Texas vehicle safety inspectors do not fail all cars that have chips or cracks in their windows. However, when they come across a vehicle that has cracks that obstruct the driver’s vision, they have no choice but to fail it.

Damaged Windshield Wipers

When it begins to rain, Texas drivers rely on their windshield wipers to help them see the road ahead and prevent them from getting into nasty accidents. As such, when an inspector finds that a car’s wipers are faulty or damaged, they are obligated to fail it.

Dark Window Tint

It is not illegal for vehicles in the state of Texas to have tint on their windows. However, if a car’s tint is too dark, and prevents the driver from seeing clearly, inspectors cannot pass it.

If a driver’s vehicle fails its safety inspection, they must typically fix the issue and have it re-tested within 15 days. Should they fail to do so, they will not be able to renew their registration.

Do Texas Vehicles Need to Undergo Emissions Testing?

Just about all gasoline-powered vehicles registered in the following Texas counties must undergo emissions testing on an annual basis:

  • Brazoria
  • Collin
  • Denton
  • Galveston
  • Harris
  • Fort Bend
  • Dallas
  • Johnson
  • Ellis
  • Parker
  • Kaufman
  • Montgomery
  • Rockwall
  • Travis
  • El Paso
  • Tarrant
  • Williamson

Motorcycles and diesel-powered passenger vehicles are exempt from emissions testing in the state of Texas. The same is true for cars that were manufactured less than two years ago or more than 24 years ago.

There is no set fee for emissions testing. Each inspection station has the right to set their own prices. Most locations charge between $15 and $30 for this service.

Vehicles that fail these emissions tests must undergo repairs and be re-examined within a couple of weeks – or the state will not approve their registration renewals.

What to Do If You Get into an Accident with a Vehicle That Has an Expired Inspection Sticker

Auto accident involving two cars on a city street

A sizable portion of the traffic collisions that occur in Houston and throughout the state of Texas each year involve vehicles that have an expired inspection sticker. These cars and trucks are often quite poorly maintained and may not be safe to operate on public roads.

So, what should you do if you get hit by a vehicle with an expired inspection sticker? At Brian White & Associates, PC, we recommend taking the following steps to protect your health as well as your financial future:

Seek Medical Treatment (If Necessary)

In the immediate aftermath of your accident, your health should be your number one priority. Take a couple of minutes to check yourself over for signs of serious injuries. If you spot any issues that require immediate medical attention, call an ambulance as quickly as you can.

Should you be unable to contact emergency services yourself, you can have a bystander call on your behalf.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Once your medical needs have been addressed, you will need to call your insurance company to let them know that you were involved in an accident. You do not need to provide them with any unnecessary information during this conversation. In most cases, you should just tell them where and when the collision occurred.

Call the Police

woman calling the police after car accident

When you have finished talking to your insurance company, you will next need to call the police. They will send an officer to the location of your accident to compile a detailed crash report. You might need to use this report as evidence in a lawsuit against the other party at a later date.

Gather Evidence from the Crash Scene

While you are at the scene of your accident, you should also take a few minutes to gather additional evidence for your potential lawsuit. In most cases, it is smart to take multiple pictures and videos of the scene. While snapping photos, you should make sure to take one of the expired stickers on the other driver’s car.

Once you have finished taking pictures, you should also take some time to talk to any witnesses and gather their contact information. You may need to reach out to them when filing your lawsuit against the other driver.

Call an Experienced Lawyer

The final, but arguably most important, step to take to protect your interests after an accident is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. They will be able to take the following actions for you:

  • Conduct an independent investigation into the crash
  • File a petition for compensation with the court
  • Request the accident report from the police
  • Communicate with your insurance company
  • Negotiate a settlement deal with the other party’s insurer

Your attorney will also be able to answer any questions you might have about the legal process as you work your way through your case.

Need More Information About the Car Inspection Laws in Texas? Contact Our Law Firm Today

Whether you want to learn more about the Lone Star State’s vehicle inspection laws or need help filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, you can always count on the car accident attorneys in Houston here at Brian White & Associates, PC. We have the industry experience and legal knowledge to provide you with the assistance you require. Contact us online today to set up a free consultation at our law office in Houston.