Auto Repair in Mint Hill – The Most Common Ways Cars Fail State Inspections

State inspections are a staple of North Carolina Car Ownership, and you’ve most likley been through the process of getting one before. If you want to keep your visit short and sweet, try to avoid these common mistakes so you don’t have to spend extra time trying to pass.

Safety

All vehicles are required to go through a safety test. Vehicles model year 1995 and older, as well as vehicles less than three model years old and with less than 70,000 miles, require a Safety Only test. This test is $13.60 ($23.60 with window tint), and cannot have sales tax applied to it. This test covers all safety components such as brakes, headlights, wipers and tires.

Common Fail Methods: Bald Tires, Non-Functioning lights, Aftermarket Lights.

  • Tires cannot go below 2/32″ at their worst point. So even if the inside of the tire looks brand-new, if the tire has worn improperly and is below 2/32″ at any point, it fails.
  • Turn signals (with the exception of the rear turn signals which can be red and part of the brake light) must be amber in color. even if they function but are not amber, they fail.
  • All headlights, including high beams, must function, even if you only drive during the day. Sometimes high beams burn out, and you may not even know because you only use them on occasion. As always, check before you go to the test!
  • Aftermarket lights are cool, but unfortunately fail every time If it didn’t roll off the assembly line with them, the vehicle fails. That means no aftermarket LED headlights and no underglow. Many shops are petitioning this rule though, so don’t give up hope yet, tuners!

Emissions

Vehicles model year 1996 and above, with the exception of vehicles less than three model years old and with less than 70,000 miles, require a Safety & Emissions test, which is $30 ($40 with window tint) and cannot have sales tax applied to it. Safety & Emissions have all aspects of the Safety Only tests, as well as common emissions checks such as checking to make sure OBDII functions are not imapred, that vehicles have not had emission components tampered with, and that the vehicle does not have a the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (Check Engine Light or CEL for short) in the “on” position.

Common Fail Methods: CEL on, Non-functioning CEL, tampered emissions components.

  • Removing emissions components, like “Straightpiping” a car (removing the catalytic converter for a mean, deep rumble) are immediate fails.
  • When the car’s key is in the “on” or sometimes the “acc” position, most dash lights come on – they do this so you can check to see if the bulbs are still good. If the CEL does not illuminate here, the vehicle fails.
  • Check Engine Lights on vehicles that qualify for emissions tests cannot be on for any reason and still pass said emissions tests. Any vehicle with a CEL fails, even if just for a loose gas cap. Have it checked first!

Window Tint

In North Carolina, window tint can only be as dark as 35%, with exceptions being made for medical purposes. On cars, every window applies. On SUV’s, Trucks and everything else, only the front two have to be 35%, the rest can be as dark as desired. The windshield on any vehicle cannot have tint pass below the “AS1” line (check on the driver’s side of your windshield about 1/5 of the way down, you’ll see a small “AS1” printed.) Again, this can only be at most 35%. Any state inspection where tint was tested is required by law to have a $10 window tint fee.

Common fail methods: Too dark

  • On most vehicles, the back windows are already darker than the fronts off the assembly line. While 35% tint on the front may make those windows 35%, it may make the rear ones 30% or 25%. When  tinting rear windows on vehicles that have their rear windows tested like sedans, remember – use lighter tint on the rear!
Ken Manchester