Is Your Vehicle Ready For Its Annual Inspection?

Two mechanics doing annual vehicle inspection

Texas takes motorist safety seriously, which is why all vehicles must pass an annual safety inspection. Vehicles that don’t pass aren’t allowed on the road, so maintain your vehicle throughout the year to avoid this inconvenience. Here is a detailed look at the inspection criteria for passenger vehicles.

Beam Indicator

The beam indicator is the little dashboard light that comes on when you switch your headlights from the low beam to high beam. It is important the beam indicator works so drivers remember to switch to their low beams when they encounter an oncoming vehicle.

Parking Brake

Vehicles must have a working parking brake. Mechanics will check the cables, the brake mechanism, and ensure that a vehicle with the parking brake applied when the transmission is in drive and the accelerator is revved will actually hold the vehicle.


All brake system parts and hoses must be in good working condition. Fluid levels in the master cylinder must be at the appropriate level and there can be no signs of a leak. When the technician applies the brakes, there should be no metal on metal noise. Both brake lights must also work.

The State of Texas allows different methods for testing brake effectiveness. If a road test is done, the vehicle should smoothly stop within the allowed distance when traveling at a speed of 20 mph. Some mechanics use a platform tester for evaluating the brakes rather than a road test, which means they won’t have to find a safe place to drive your car and the test may take less time.

Exhaust System

While the vehicle runs, the technician will inspect all components of the exhaust system. The muffler must be solid, without any patches. The tailpipe must not be broken or eroded. All clamps and brackets must be in place, and there cannot be any leaks in the manifold.

Head Lamps

The head lamps, or headlights, must be correctly positioned and in good working order. Both the switch and dimmer switch must work. The lens covers must be clear and must not be dirty as this lowers illumination output. The head lamps must be firmly encased in their housing, without any frayed or hanging wires.


All vehicles must have an operable horn, which should be easily heard above the din of traffic. The wiring insulation of the horn system must not show any sign of wear.

Rearview Mirror

The rearview mirror should be firmly attached. The mirror cannot be cracked, broken, or peeling, nor have sharp edges. The mirror should provide the driver with a 200-foot rear view.

Rear and Side Reflectors

Rear reflectors must be red, not cracked, and must be positioned correctly. If the vehicle has side reflectors, they must be amber colored, not cracked, and positioned correctly.

Seat Belts

All seat belts must be firmly mounted. The belts may not show any signs of wear, such as fraying or tears, and must include pelvic restraint. All belts must be easily adjustable for the wearer.


Vehicles with power steering must have the steering fluid level at the proper mark. The steering belt may not be cracked or excessively frayed, and there should be no excessively worn steering system parts or visible leaks in the housing or hoses.


Tires must have more than 1/16 of an inch of tread left. There must not be any tire bulges, knots, or other obvious defects and signs of wear. The sidewalls may not have any cracks.

Windshield Wipers

The windshield wipers must work. The rubber on the blades should not be decayed. The windshield wipers must be able to adequately clear the field of vision.

In some Texas counties and municipalities, a vehicle emissions test will also be performed to ensure the car meets the specifications for the age and type of vehicle. Additionally, tinted vehicle windows must have a luminous reflectance value of 25% or less.

Vehicle inspections in Texas are quite in-depth. Contact us today to schedule any work you need done prior to an inspection or to schedule the inspection itself.