New York State Vehicle Safety/Emissions Inspection Program

For Cars and Light Trucks

The New York State vehicle safety inspection program helps make sure every vehicle registered in this state meets the minimum standards for safe operation on public streets and highways. In addition, most vehicles are subject to an emissions inspection to help reduce air pollution.

A properly maintained vehicle is safer, performs better, uses fuel more efficiently and saves the owner money. You can help by doing your own equipment safety checks between annual inspections, and by following a program of regular vehicle maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer.

This publication highlights the safety and emissions inspection requirements for cars and light trucks. Other motor vehicles, including motorcycles and trailers, must meet different requirements for annual inspection.


Motor vehicles are required, by law, to be in safe operating condition whenever they are driven on a public street or roadway in New York State.

Each vehicle registered in New York State must be inspected at least every 12 months. The inspection must be done before the expiration date of the current inspection sticker, and whenever the vehicle becomes registered in a different name.

When a vehicle inspection is requested, an inspection station must inspect any vehicle it is licensed to inspect or must provide, in writing, an appointment date that is within eight working days. If an appointment is made, the station may require a deposit that cannot exceed the inspection fee.

The inspection must be done in a licensed inspection station displaying an official sign, and must be performed by a certified motor vehicle inspector.

If your vehicle fails the safety and/or emissions inspection, the inspection station must have your permission before beginning any repairs.

You are not required to have your vehicle repaired or re-inspected at the station that performed the initial inspection. Your vehicle may be taken to any registered repair shop, or you may make the required repairs yourself. Your vehicle must then pass a new inspection, at an inspection station of your choice, before an inspection sticker will be issued.

It is a misdemeanor for an inspector to knowingly issue, or a motorist to knowingly accept, an inspection sticker unless a full and proper inspection has been performed.


Seat Belts

Inspect for proper operation and anchorage.

  • Model years 1969 and newer - one seat belt is required for each seating position
  • Model years 1967 and 1968 - two front seat belts are required (driver position included), and one seat belt is required for each seating position elsewhere in the vehicle
  • Model years 1965 and 1966 - two front seat belts are required (driver position included)

Your vehicle's Air Bag Warning Lamp will be checked for proper operation. You will be informed if the vehicle's air bag warning lamp is on or is not working. This is an advisement only and not cause for rejection.


At least one front wheel must be removed to inspect the brakes.

  • Brake pedal reserve - brake pedal must have 1/3 reserve
  • Brake pedal fade - brake must hold for one minute without fading
  • Power brake unit - check for proper operation
  • Brake master cylinder - check for leakage and proper fluid level
  • Disc brake pads - check condition
  • Drum brake linings - thickness of linings must be at least 1/16 inch on bonded linings or at least 1/32 inch over rivet head on riveted linings, with no loose or missing rivets or lining
  • Brake drums and/or rotors - check condition
  • Wheel cylinders and/or calipers - check for leakage
  • All brake lines and hoses - check for leaks, cracks, chafing, restrictions, and improper support
  • Parking brake - check for components and function
  • Brake equalization - test vehicle for a straight stop without significant wheel pull

Steering, Front End, Suspension, Chassis, Frame and Wheel Fasteners

Front end assembly - check condition

  • Steering wheel play - check for excessive freeplay
  • All steering linkages - check for tightness or binding, excessive wear and/or looseness in parts, including idler arm, center control arm, tie-rod ends, drag link ends, steering and pitman arms, gear box, cross shafts, bushings, wheel bearings, steering column or steering wheel shaft mounting
  • Power steering - check operation, condition of belt, and for leakage
  • Shock absorbers - check shock mountings and for broken or missing shock absorbers
  • Springs and torsion bars - check for sagging or broken springs, or a broken, disconnected, missing or bent torsion or stabilizer bar
  • Chassis/frame - check for breaks, cracks, or severe rust at the suspension attachment points
  • Wheel fasteners - check for missing or broken parts

Tires (Except spare)

  • Tread depth - must be at least 2/32 inch when measured in two adjacent major tread grooves showing the most wear
  • Tire condition - check for any fabric break or cut over the length or width of 1 inch, visible bumps, bulges or knots, and any restricted use designation on the tire
  • Tire pressure - You will be informed if the vehicle's tire pressure in not within the manufacturer's recommendation. This is an advisement only, and not cause for rejection.


All lighting must be of an approved type and inspected for operation, proper mounting, and broken or missing lenses. Side marker lamps, parking lamps, and additional flashing turning lamps mounted on the side of the vehicle are not inspected.

  • Headlamps (low and high beam)
  • Tail lamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Directional signals
  • Backup lights (1969 and newer)
  • License plate lights
  • Hazard warning/four-way flasher (1966 and newer)
  • Directional signal indicator

Windshield and Other Glass

  • All windows
    • Check for approved safety glass or rigid plastic and condition
    • Check for window tint

  • Windshield
    • Check for presence and condition

No crack of 11 inches long or longer is allowed if any part of the crack is within the area cleared by the windshield wiper.

Windshield Wipers and Blades

(Not including rear window or headlamp wipers)

  • Wipers - check for presence and operation
  • Blades - check condition


Check mounting and operation


Check mirror locations for proper mounting, cracks, breaks, and/or discoloration.

  • Model year 1970 and newer - must have a left outside mirror and an inside mirror, or both left and right outside mirrors
  • Model year 1968 and newer - must have a left outside mirror
  • 1967 and older - must have one mirror that is either an inside mirror or a left outside mirror

Note: Any vehicle that has a permanent obstruction of the view through the rear window (Example: a truck or van) must have both a left and a right outside mirror.

Fuel Leaks

Any fuel leak that causes dripping or pooling is not acceptable.


The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act requires New York State to conduct an inspection program to help reduce harmful emissions from most passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The emissions inspection is done at the same time as the annual safety inspection. Vehicles that fail the emissions inspection may not be able to become registered or, if already registered, the registration may not be renewed.

On-Board Diagnostics Generation II (OBDII) Inspection.

Gasoline-powered vehicles with a model year within the range of the calendar year minus 24 and the calendar year minus 2 and most 1997 or newer diesel-powered vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) less than 8,501 pounds are subject to the OBDII emissions inspection. This test examines the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL), also known as the "check engine" light, for operation/illumination, and verifies the test results of the vehicle's "on-board emissions diagnostic" system.

Low Enhanced Inspection.

A "Low Enhanced" emissions inspection is required for most other vehicles, unless they are subject to the OBDII test or are exempt from all emissions inspections. This inspection is required for all vehicles with a model year below the lower limit of OBDII test range and that weigh 18,000 lbs. or less.

Each emissions inspection for gasoline-powered vehicles confirms the presence and connection of the vehicle's required emissions control devices. This includes making sure that the vehicle's gas cap is present, is in good condition, and fits properly.


The following emissions control devices are examined if the vehicle was originally manufactured with them:


  • Catalytic converter (CAT)
  • Exhaust gas recirculation valve (EGR)
  • Positive crankcase ventilation system (PCV)
  • Air injection system (AIS)
  • Evaporative emissions control (EVAP)
  • Fuel inlet restrictor (FIR)
  • Thermostatic air cleaner (TAC)

You can help your vehicle pass an OBDII emissions inspection by keeping it properly maintained. If the vehicle's Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL, or "check engine" light) indicates there may be a malfunction or other problem, have the vehicle properly repaired. A well maintained, properly functioning vehicle uses less fuel and creates less exhaust emissions.

Diesel Emissions Inspection (smoke opacity test)

Most diesel-powered vehicles that have a GVWR greater than 8,500 pounds and are registered in the New York Metropolitan Area (one of the five counties with New York City or the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland or Westchester) are subject to a smoke opacity test.

Registration Based Enforcement (RBE)

You cannot renew a vehicle registration unless the DMV has a computer record that the vehicle passed the required emissions inspection within the last 12 months or you can provide proof of the inspection by providing a copy of the vehicle inspection report.

Consumer Help

If you are not satisfied with the quality of a vehicle inspection or repair, or the service provided by a motor vehicle dealer, first attempt to resolve the issue with the management of the business. Keep a written record of all contacts with management in addition to details about the inspection, repair, or sale. Copies of work orders and invoices are proof of your attempts to resolve the problem.

If an acceptable resolution is not reached and you wish to file a complaint, you must submit a Vehicle Safety Complaint Report (PDF) (VS-35) along with any supporting documents to the DMV Consumer & Facilities Services Complaint Unit. To submit electronically, download the complaint report available at the link above to your personal device. Attach and then email the completed report as well as any supporting documents to [email protected]. Please note that DMV staff will communicate with you through email.

Complaint Unit
Bureau of Consumer & Facility Services
Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 2700-ESP, Albany, NY 12220-0700
FAX: (518) 486-4102
Phone: 1-518-474-8943 (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., Monday - Friday)
Email: [email protected]


DMV staff will not investigate a complaint until a completed VS-35 Complaint Report has been received. The department does not investigate complaints that have been filed anonymously. There is a 90-day limit on reporting incidents related to a NYS Repair Shop. We cannot accept complaints against Repair Shops beyond the 90-day limit or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first). The DMV cannot resolve disputes over the terms of manufacturer or third party warranties or guarantees. If you feel you have a NYS Lemon Law complaint, please see Lemon Law Complaints.

Once your complaint has been filed, a Consumer Services Representative (CSR) from DMV will be assigned to handle your complaint. If the CSR is unable to resolve your complaint, the case will be sent to an Automotive Facilities Inspector for a formal investigation and possibly a hearing. Depending on the complaint, this process could take several weeks to several months to resolve. Forms, addresses of certified inspection stations in your area, and "Frequently Asked Questions," also are available from the DMV web site.

For additional information, see Inspection Requirements


Mark J. F. Schroeder, Commissioner

C-50 (2/11) Edited for the internet 9/19



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