Pennsylvania Car Inspection Requirements

by Emma Watkins
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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PDOT) has established a series of inspection requirements all motor vehicles must pass to be registered in that state. The points of inspection vary depending on the type of vehicle you own. Passenger cars and light duty trucks fall in the same category and have the same parts checked for potential problems. The PDOT publishes detailed information about its mandatory inspections.


The car's ball joint movement can't exceed the manufacturer's specifications, along with shock absorbers that do not leak. Their mounting bolts can't be broken and there has to be a stabilizer bar.


The steering gear box can't be loose on the frame and the steering cannot be constrained or limited. When you steer, the wheels should respond appropriately.


The brakes' hydraulic hose, wheel cylinder and caliper shouldn't leak or show mechanical damage. The inspector will also check the size of the drum and disc thickness to verify they haven't been replaced with incorrect ones.

Tires and Wheels

Two adjacent tire treads can't have less than 2/32 inches of tread left. In addition, your car will fail inspection if any of the tires has been fixed with a blow-up patch, has a bulge, a bump or separation. You also need tires that are designated safe for highway use. Two tires that share the same axle, have to be the same size and type.

The wheels can't be bent, cracked or welded and must have all their nuts and bolts. The inspector will also verify that your back wheels track the front wheels in a straight ahead position.

Lighting and Electrical Systems

Every lamp and switch in your car needs to turn on and off. Headlamps have to have a low beam and a high beam. In addition, you should have one red stop lamp on each side of the rear of your car. Other required lamps are: parking, tail, hazard warning, back up and turn signals. The car also has to be equipped with a secure fastening system to hold the battery safely in place.

Glass and Mirrors

A car's windshield and windows need safety glazing. Only government issued stickers can go on the lower left or right corner of the windshield. There also must be at least one rear view mirror without any ornaments hanging from it.

Windshield Washer, Defroster and Wipers

The defrosters and wipers have to be in working condition. Wipers should be able to remove both snow and water from the windshield surface and the car also has to be equipped with a windshield washer system.

Fuel System

All parts of your car's fuel system have to be leak proof and safely fastened to the vehicle. Your engine has to return to idle when you step off the accelerator pedal, along with the required cap for the gas tank.

Speedometer and Odometer

Your speedometer has to be calibrated to show miles or kilometers per hour. Your car also needs an odometer that's calibrated to tell you how many miles you've driven.

Exhaust System

The car's exhaust system shouldn't allow any gases to be released into the vehicle and should have a muffler that adequately suppresses excessive noise.

Horns and Warning Devices

While your car is required to have a horn in good operating condition, only emergency vehicles can have sirens. Horns are for warning only and you may be fined if you misuse it.

Body and Chassis

The following parts need to be present for your car to pass inspection: fenders, hood and hood latches, and doors that open and close securely. Your chassis also has to be in perfect condition without cracks, missing parts or any damage along with flooring and bumpers.

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