Can I Get My Car Inspected Without Insurance?

Last Updated on March 31, 2023

Car inspections are a great way to ensure your car is both safe and legal to drive. In fact, many states require annual or biennial auto inspections after your initial inspection and registration. These are completed to keep roads safe and emissions from vehicles at a minimum.

Why do you need a car inspection? What happens during a car inspection? Can you get your car inspected if you haven’t bought insurance yet? Can you get your car inspected without insurance? Below, we’re answering every question you might have about car inspections and insurance.

When Do You Need a Car Inspection?

Can I Get My Car Inspected Without Insurance?There are two types of car inspections: emission inspection and safety inspection.

Both are fairly straightforward. Emission inspections are designed to test the number of pollutants released from your vehicle. These inspections began in the 1960s and are slowly becoming more present. Some states require emission inspections, but these are typically done during manufacturing and before the cars ever enter the market. Some older, antique vehicles may also need to pass these inspections to drive legally.

Safety inspections check on the overall quality and condition of your vehicle. These are done to guarantee the safety of the passengers as well as the safety of other drivers. An unsafe vehicle can lead to dangerous scenarios such as engine failure or tire and alignment issues that put everyone at risk.

As a result, most states require regular safety inspections. These are often done annually during the registration renewal process. Other states might require them less often, such as every 2-3 years.

Typically, these inspections also occur during the sale transaction of a used vehicle. This is especially true for used vehicles at a car dealership. Most dealerships will not list or show a vehicle if it has not yet passed inspection. For private sellers, the process is a lot more casual. If that is the case for you, there is a significantly less chance of your vehicle being inspected. However, in order for you to register and drive the vehicle, you may still need an inspection.

Otherwise, you may need a car inspection whenever you purchase a new vehicle or a new insurance provider. This is done to ensure the insurance provider there are no legal or safety reasons the car should not be insured.

What Happens During a Car Inspection?

The standard car inspection procedure goes through a variety of safety and technical protocols. They start by certifying the driver’s title, registration, and proof of insurance or financial responsibility. This is to ensure the vehicle is legally owned and registered by the driver and that the driver maintains the state’s legal minimum amount of coverage.

If all the documents are up to date, the inspection proceeds to check the vehicle itself. Car inspections check for:

  • Exterior condition: How do the doors, bumpers, hood, and rest of the vehicle’s exterior hold up? Are there major dents and dings or serious rusting? These problems can put the driver and its passengers at risk. Plus, the exterior condition needs to allow for the license plates to be easily visible.
  • The undercarriage of the vehicle: Is everything securely fastened underneath the vehicle? Or are parts broken or rusting?
  • Windshield and windows: Mechanics look for major scratches or cracks that could potentially become hazardous. Minor cracks might pass the inspection but anything larger than a few inches is likely to raise some red flags.
  • Wiper blades: This is to ensure that your windshield wipers are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws her way.
  • Tires: Tires need deep treads to handle all types of roads and weather conditions. Low tread can be dangerous. Also, brake pads can wear out easily in the right conditions. Mechanics will ensure the tires are complemented by strong brake pads.
  • Lighting: Are all the lights working and bright enough to maneuver at night?
  • Other safety features: Do seatbelts fasten securely and provide ample protection? Does the alignment check out? Are there any fluid leaks that need to be taken care of?

Going into an inspection, you will likely know whether your vehicle will pass or fail. Most vehicles are in good enough condition to drive around. Only major problems will raise red flags and require some maintenance before they hit the road again.

Can You Get a Car Inspection Without Insurance?

The short answer is no. You cannot get a car inspection without insurance.

First off, inspectors will not conduct their inspection unless they are presented with the vehicle’s title, registration, and proof of insurance. Without any of those three items, you will likely not get your inspection completed.

And perhaps a more obvious reason is that it is illegal to drive without insurance. All states have financial responsibility laws. These require either proof of insurance or proof of sufficient assets to cover any damages. And, in order to get your car inspected, it will need to be driven – legally – to the dealership, auto garage, or wherever the inspection is taking place.

There may certainly be exceptions to this rule. However, most are going to include those and perhaps other requirements. It is best practice to always have insurance, especially whenever getting inspections or repairs done.

Final Word on Car Inspections and Insurance

There are many reasons to get a car inspection done. Not only do local governments require inspections done in order to drive on their roadways, but you might also want to get an inspection done to ensure your car is safe to drive. There are a few different requirements, however, that need to be met before getting your vehicle inspected. Apart from the vehicle registration and title, you will also need insurance. Most inspection stations will require and verify insurance coverage before you get your vehicle inspected.

If you are planning to get your vehicle inspected, please purchase auto insurance coverage before doing so. Also, remember to bring your proof of insurance documents with you to the inspection.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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