Things Looked for in Passing a Texas Car Inspection

by Jefferson Hansen
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The state of Texas requires every car to be inspected once a year. There are 18 basic criteria, which includes brakes, lights, horns, mirrors, and seat belts . Perhaps the most confusing criterion concerns emissions testing. In some counties, all cars must be tested. In others, diesel-fueled cars need not be tested.


The parking brakes, once applied, should remain so without aid and release fully when released. No parts should be badly worn or stretched out. For the regular brakes, there are a variety of tests. One checks how quickly the car comes to a stop when going 20 miles per hour. Another checks how much pedal reserve is on the brakes. Leakage, crimping, badly worn hoses and other equipment are checked.


The high beam indicator must have a proper switching indicator, not produce glaring light and not be inoperative for any reason. The inspectors will check to see that your license plate lamp properly illuminates your plate. Your car must have two red, rear reflectors. You must have two red stop lights on your car, and they must be visible from a range of 300 feet. Every car needs to have two red tail lights visible from 1,000 feet. The car must have two headlights. The middle of each needs to be 24 to 54 inches from the ground. In addition, they must reveal objects 450 feet ahead of them.

Horn and Mirrors

Your car horn is inspected for sound and to ensure the activating device and wiring being are in working order. Your interior and exterior driver's side rear view mirrors will be inspected to determine if they offer an unobstructed view and are properly mounted without cracks.

Seatbelts and Steering

Front lap seat belts will be checked for any weakening of the fabric or of the bolt anchoring. The steering will be inspected by placing the car on a level surface then turning the wheel to see how much give is in it. Inspectors will check if anything, such as a dent in the wheel well, interferes with the full range of motion. For any nondiesel fueled car, there is also an emissions test that checks the amount of pollutants put out by the car. Also, citizens of these counties need to have their car checked for emissions regardless of fuel type: Dallas and surrounding counties, Galveston and surrounding counties, Williamson, Travis, and El Paso counties.

Second Inspection

If your car does not pass the test the first time, you need not worry too much. You just need to get the repairs done, bring it back to the same inspection station within 15 days and your second inspection is free.

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