Inspection Tips for Light-duty Trucks

What types of inspections are required for light-duty trucks?

Both safety and emissions inspections are required for light-duty trucks according to the same model-year and county requirements as for cars in North Carolina. Visit our Tips for Cars for details on exemptions.

A safety inspection includes checks of your truck's:

  • Headlights, stop and warning lights, and turn signals
  • Foot and parking brakes
  • Tires for damage and minimum tread depth
  • Steering mechanism
  • Rear-view mirrors
  • Window tinting
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers

If required, an emissions inspection combines a visual inspection and computerized analysis of your truck's On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system to determine if your emissions system and components meet State of North Carolina requirements.

If your vehicle passes, you'll receive a receipt with your results and the DMV will automatically be notified to clear the way for your vehicle registration renewal.

If any item on the checklist fails, you'll receive instructions on what needs to be repaired and the due date for the repair to be completed. Once your repair is complete, simply return to any of our DEKRA stations for a retest.


Which vehicles are considered "light-duty"?

The classification of light-duty in North Carolina applies to vehicles rated at less than 8,501 pounds (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GVWR) by the manufacturer. Most box trucks and large pick-ups fall into this category and will require both annual safety and emissions inspections unless exempt by model-year or county.

Heavier gasoline-powered vehicles do not require emissions testing, but may require a safety inspection.  Also note that diesel-operated vehicles of any weight do not require an emissions test, but again may require a safety inspection.


Tips for passing your inspection:

The following tips will help your light-duty truck pass its inspection, and at the same time help the environment!

  • Regular maintenance
    Change your oil and filters as recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer (usually every 3 months or 3,000 miles) to help your vehicle operate efficiently and increase its odds of passing the emission test. It is also important to use the type of oil and fuel recommended by the manufacturer for best performance.
  • Watch for leaks
    Low fluid levels can affect the efficiency and performance of your vehicle, which can cause a test failure.
  • Gas cap required
    State regulations require that your gas cap is in place and is of the correct type for your vehicle to avoid excess evaporative emissions. This is important, as not only can a properly fitting cap save you money at the pump, but too much evaporative emission can trigger your vehicle's check engine light and produce a test failure.
  • Watch for warning lights
    The same "On Board Diagnostics" system in your vehicle that triggers the warning light is the same system that reports its information to our inspection station's computer determining if your vehicle meets state requirements, so if your vehicle's computer is triggering a "Check Engine" light, it may not pass the inspection.
  • New or disconnected battery?
    If your battery is disconnected, or if it died and needed a jump start, your vehicle's computer system resets itself and would fail due to a lack of data even if your vehicle is operating properly. Driving between 100 - 150 miles (consult your vehicle's manual for an exact number) before coming in for your inspection will make sure your vehicle has gathered enough information for its test.
  • Take notice of warning signs
    Road-weary vehicles can start to show signs of a faulty emissions system, including difficulty starting or staying running at idle, jumping or shaking at higher speeds, and misfires. Taking your vehicle to a certified repair shop as soon as you notice a worsening trend can catch problems before they escalate into a more major repair or test failure.


Visit a DEKRA station for more expert advice and a fast, professional vehicle inspection.


State of North Carolina Resources

Visit the NC DMV site

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