Vehicle safety has been a concern in the United States since the dawn of motorized vehicles and became federally mandated in 1966 with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Later, as metropolitan areas became choked with smog from a rapid rise in vehicle use, the federal Clean Air Act of 1977 required states to implement emission inspection programs.
As your car ages, it is likely to begin failing these required inspections and it may be worth it to sell your old car instead of paying to have it repaired.
Many states require both safety and emissions inspections for all vehicles within 30 days of moving in from out of state. These tests must be done before your car can be registered and out of state inspection reports are rarely accepted regardless of when they were last completed.
Some states require newly acquired vehicles to undergo emission and safety inspections when they are sold to a new owner. The regulations may vary, however, as each state has its own regulations. Cars that have passed within 90 days of the sale, diesel-powered vehicles, and those less than 2 years old may be exempt from emission testing.
State regulations on continued inspections also vary. Depending on where you live, emissions testing may need to be done every one to two years unless your vehicle is exempt. Most states require safety inspections every year, but they may only be necessary for salvaged vehicles in other areas. Be sure to check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to be sure.
In the unfortunate event that your car fails an inspection, there may be programs available to assist you in paying for repairs. However, they usually only cover about $600 and in many cases, you must also prove that you are low-income. Safety and emission parts and repair services can be much too expensive so some owners think to themselves, “I should just sell my junk car and buy something newer.”
If your vehicle fails an inspection, it will be up to you to pay for the cost of parts and labor of having it repaired. It may be that the brakes are too worn or maybe an emission control device is failing. Whatever the problem, you may have to take it to an approved facility, but this is not always the case, so it’s best to check with your state’s regulatory agency before authorizing any repairs.
In conclusion, you may love that old car of yours, but sometimes it is best to let go of things that, in the long run, will only cost you more money than they are worth. If your vehicle fails a safety or emissions inspection, do the math and consider selling it to a local junk car dealer and put that cash toward the purchase of a newer and more reliable vehicle.