Introduction to Massachusetts Vehicle Check
Clean air and safe roads are important for you and all residents of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth started to inspect vehicles for safety defects over 60 years ago, and has one of the longest-running safety inspection programs in the country. In 1983, Massachusetts became one of the first states in the country to start testing vehicle emissions. As vehicles have become more sophisticated, the tests have been updated to ensure that emissions-related problems are identified and repaired promptly to help improve air quality and prevent possible damage to additional components.
Introduced in October 2008, the Massachusetts Vehicle Check Program provides a combined safety and emissions inspection highlighted by the following:
All vehicles driven on Massachusetts roads must pass an annual safety inspection.
Vehicles with onboard diagnostic systems manufactured after model year 2008 must pass an annual emissions test.
Inspections are offered at more than 1,800 licensed inspection stations in Massachusetts.
Fleets of commercial motor vehicles can be tested by mobile inspectors who bring testing equipment to company lots, or by a company employee who is licensed to conduct inspections.
The Massachusetts Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection is equivalent to the annual Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection. This allows commercial motor vehicle owners to meet state and federal requirements with one inspection.
The Massachusetts Vehicle Check annual inspection fee is $35 for most vehicles. Inspection stations providing a commercial inspection are permitted to charge more, consistent with nationwide industry practice.
For a complete description of inspection fees, please click here.
Emissions:Vehicle engines and air pollution
The health risks of air pollution are extremely serious. Poor air quality increases respiratory ailments, such as asthma and bronchitis; heightens the risk of life-threatening conditions, such as cancer; and burdens our health care system with substantial medical costs.Particulate matter is singlehandedly responsible for up to 30,000 premature deaths nationwide each year.
Transportation is the largest contributor to smog and air pollution in United States, far exceeding industrial, commercial and residential sources. It accounts for one-third of all carbon dioxide (CO2), more than half of the carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), almost one quarter of the hydrocarbon emissions, over 30% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and over 20% of particulate matter (PM emissions) in the U.S. In total, motor vehicles can emit up to 40 hazardous air pollutants.
More than 60 percent of transportation-related emissions come from gasoline-powered private passenger vehicles and the remainder from diesel vehicles, construction equipment, aviation, shipping and other transportation activities.
Clean air is imperative to public health and a strong economy. State and federal clean air standards have reduced pollution that causes illness and death, contributing more than $2 trillion in economic and health benefits.
The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)) establish maximum levels for ozone, particulate matter and other air pollutants. Massachusetts’ air does not meet the standard for ground level ozone, so the Commonwealth, in accordance with the U.S. Clean Air Act, must implement programs that will reduce ozone levels.
Greenhouse Gases & Climate ChangeIn addition to harming health, poor air quality has negative environmental and economic impacts. There is scientific consensus that our climate is changing, largely as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels. This produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and other “greenhouse gases” that form a “blanket” of pollution, trapping heat in our atmosphere, warming the earth and causing climate instability that can lead to severe storms, droughts, floods, heat waves, rising sea levels and hostile changes to ecosystems.
Testing motor vehicles through the Massachusetts Vehicle Check Program helps ensure that vehicles run as cleanly as they were designed. If an emissions test shows a problem with the emissions control system, the vehicle’s owner is required to make the appropriate repairs.
What You Can Do
You can do your part to improve air quality in Massachusetts by maintaining your vehicle on a regular basis: have the engine tuned and the oil changed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, watch for tell-tale signs of potential problems with the emissions control system of your vehicle, such as your “Check Engine” light staying illuminated, or black or bluish smoke coming from the tailpipe, and take note of a sudden decrease in your vehicle’s gas mileage.
To learn more about the quality of Massachusetts’ air, as well as programs and initiatives in the Commonwealth, visit the MassDEP website.
Safety is an equally important part of the Massachusetts Vehicle Check Program. A broken taillight, cracked windshield, defective suspension component or other defect can make a vehicle unsafe to drive. That’s why it’s important to make sure your vehicle is always in good repair, not just when you’re going to have your vehicle inspected. Fourteen key components of your vehicle are evaluated during the safety inspection. During the commercial inspection, over 70 items are subject to a thorough inspection meeting federal standards to ensure that commercial vehicles are in safe operating condition.
First, a state-licensed inspector will give your vehicle a brief visual inspection to make sure there are no conditions, such as a gasoline leak, that present an immediate danger to either the inspector or the general public. These conditions must be fixed before the inspection proceeds.
Once your vehicle has passed the visual inspection, you will need to provide:
A current (and active) registration document with a valid vehicle identification number (VIN) that matches the one found on the left front side of the dashboard; and
The $35 inspection fee.
Certificate of registration
License plate(s): For more information about the license plate inspection requirements, check the Motorist Resources section.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Exhaust system components/muffler
Excessive blue or black smoke
4.Steering and Suspension
Steering wheel and box
Sound horn to test for adequate signal
The horn must be securely fastened to the vehicle
6.Glazing, Glass and Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers and washer
Window tinting: For more information, see Aftermarket Window Tint Guidelines in the Motorist Resources section.
7.Rear View Mirror
Rear view mirror
Directional (turn signal lights)
Head light aim
Hazard lights/Reverse lights/License plate light(s) and reflectors
9.Tires and Wheels
10.Bumper, Fenders and Fuel Tank
Vehicle frame or unibody
11.Altered Vehicle Height
14.Fuel Tank Cap
Vehicles listed below must receive the following types of emissions tests each year, in additional to mandatory safety tests for all registered vehicles:
On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) Test:
Model years 2008 and newer passenger cars, trucks and SUVs
Model years 2007 and newer light-duty diesel vehicles (with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or "GVWR" of 8,500 pounds or less)
Model years 2007 and newer medium-duty diesel vehicles (with a GVWR of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds)
Model years 2008 and newer medium-duty non-diesel vehicles (with a GVWR of 8,501 to 14,000 pounds)(Video) HOW TO INSPECT A VEHICLE - FOR THE BEGINNER MECHANIC
Model year 1984 and newer, medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles (with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more) not subject to an OBD test
On-board diagnostics (OBD) inspections are an important part of the Massachusetts Vehicle Check Program. No one wants to drive a vehicle that is wasting fuel or polluting. An inefficient engine or emissions control system adds pollutants to the air in our region and reduces a vehicle’s fuel economy.
The OBD test typically takes about three minutes. The inspector connects your vehicle's on-board computer to an analyzer in the station, and then downloads engine and emissions control data. The analyzer relies on the self-checks the vehicle’s OBD system makes of several functions:
Communication. Does your vehicle’s OBD system communicate with the analyzer? If your vehicle’s OBD system cannot communicate with the station’s analyzer, the OBD system must be repaired before the emissions test can be completed.
Readiness. Is your vehicle’s OBD system “ready” to be tested? As you drive your vehicle, the internal OBD system checks the performance of various emissions-related components and systems. If the OBD system has not performed enough of these self-checks, your vehicle may not be ready for an emissions test, and the analyzer will return a “Not Ready” result.
When a vehicle fails or is turned away from the inspection because its OBD system is "not ready," this simply means that at the time it was presented for inspection, the vehicle’s OBD system did not have enough valid data stored to accurately evaluate the vehicle’s emissions control system. Certain common repairs or maintenance procedures can temporarily interrupt power from a vehicle’s battery to its OBD computer, leaving monitors “not ready” for an emissions test because the power loss cleared all diagnostic results from the computer’s memory. After power is restored, in order for the vehicle to be “ready” for an emissions test, the computer needs to monitor various driving conditions long enough to run the required number of checks again, determine whether emissions-related systems or components are performing correctly, and once again properly store this information.
Until the vehicle’s on-board computer is “ready” for OBD emissions testing, the vehicle will fail its initial inspection or be turned away from a re-test. There may be nothing otherwise wrong with the vehicle; the computer simply needs to complete its checks. One week of combined highway and city driving is normally enough to reset the system and provide an accurate reading of vehicle performance.
To pass the emissions test:
2007 and newer model year non-diesel vehicles may have a maximum of one “not ready” non-continuous monitor.
2007 and newer model year diesel vehicles receiving an OBD test may have a maximum of one "not ready" non-continuous monitor.
If the vehicle failed the emissions test with a catalytic converter-related diagnostic trouble code, the vehicle’s catalyst monitor must be “ready” to pass the re-test.
Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs). Why does the OBD system turn on the Check Engine light? Diagnostic trouble codes indicate which vehicle systems or components are not performing as designed. Reviewing these codes is the first step in diagnosing an emissions-related problem. These codes, along with other information in the OBD system, help guide emissions repair technicians to faulty parts and help take the “guess-work” out of the process.
Check Engine Light. Is the Check Engine light (sometimes labeled as “Service Engine Soon”) turned on? When this light illuminated, it indicates that one or more components of your vehicle’s emissions control system is not working as it was designed to work, and repairs are needed. If the light does not turn on when the OBD system tries to turn it on, this problem must be corrected.
Emissions Test Results. The results of your emissions test are printed on the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), which the inspector will give you when the inspection is finished. The VIR provides information that a repair technician can use to diagnose and repair your vehicle before it adds more pollutants to the air. This will also save you from more expensive repairs down the road.
If your vehicle passes both its OBD emissions test and its safety inspection, it will be issued a new windshield sticker with a black number indicating the month of expiration. If a problem is detected during the OBD test, your vehicle will fail its inspection and will need to be repaired. It will receive a windshield sticker with a black R. When it passes a re-test, the black R sticker will be replaced with a black number sticker representing the month of expiration.
Common Reasons Vehicles Fail the Emissions Test
The most common causes of emissions test failures include:
Malfunctioning components that regulate fuel/air ratio, such as oxygen sensors
Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves
Evaporative controls, including poor-fitting gas caps
The VIR provides information that a repair technician can use to diagnose and repair your vehicle. This may also save you from more expensive repairs down the road.
Opacity Testing of Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles
"Snap acceleration opacity" tests are used for diesel trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles (with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more) not subject to an OBD emissions test.
In this test, the inspector uses an opacity meter or “smoke meter” to measure the smoke from the vehicle’s exhaust pipe. The darker the smoke, the more the vehicle is polluting and the higher its opacity reading will be.
Readings from three acceleration “snaps” are averaged. The final average is compared to the emissions standard for the model year and type of vehicle. Newer vehicles have more sophisticated emissions controls, and must meet stricter standards.
Inspection fees are established by state regulation based upon the type of inspection a vehicle receives. The four types of inspections available are listed below. Please check with your inspection station for the forms of payment (cash, check, debit or credit card) that they accept.
Inspection Fees as of July 1, 2014
Re-inspection Fee Questions
How long do I have to obtain a free re-inspection at the station that my vehicle originally failed?
Answer: Every vehicle is entitled to one free re-inspection within 60 calendar days at the station that originally failed the vehicle. Every failing or passing inspection thereafter will be a paid inspection.
I thought that my vehicle would receive a free re-test, but I was charged again for my vehicle's inspection. Why?
Answer: You may have paid for a vehicle re-inspection for one or more of the following reasons.
More than 60 calendar days passed after your vehicle's initial inspection failure.
Your vehicle previously received its only free re-inspection within the last 60 calendar days.
You had your vehicle re-inspected at a different station than where it was initially inspected and failed.
The vehicle was sold or transferred to a new owner after the vehicle initially failed its inspection.
My vehicle failed at one station, but I thought my vehicle should have passed, so I took my vehicle to another station, and I had to pay the second station also. Why?
Answer: Your vehicle is entitled to one free re-inspection within 60 calendar days as long as it is at the station that originally failed the vehicle. If you take your failing vehicle to another inspection station, that inspection will be a paid inspection. If you disagree with the failing inspection results your vehicle received, you may request a challenge inspection from the Registry of Motor Vehicle (RMV). See the the Test Results section for more information about challenge inspections.
My vehicle failed at one station, but I was unable to return my vehicle to the original station within 60 calendar days because when I returned, the inspector was either not available or on vacation, or the inspection station was under renovation. I went to another station, and I had to pay the second station also. Why?
Answer: If you could not obtain your free re-inspection at the original station, please fill out and send to the RMV an Inspection Station Complaint Form, available in the Motorist Resources section. The RMV will investigate and contact the first inspection station on your behalf.
Vehicles subject to recall must be repaired by the manufacturer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a public listing of safety recall issues, some of which are provided below:
Takata Air Bags recall campaign
Chrysler recall campaign
General recall information for vehicle owners
General questions and answers about vehicle recalls
Safety recalls by light-duty (passenger) vehicle or motorcycle manufacturer
Vehicle safety recalls by year, make and model
Vehicle safety recalls by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
To sign up for automatic e-mail notifications of specific vehicle safety, tire and child restraint recalls
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency no longer maintains a public listing of emissions recall issues that have been identified; but they do provide the following emissions campaign and recall information:
Ongoing campaign regarding Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche diesel-powered vehicles, plea
Light-duty (passenger) and heavy-duty vehicle emissions recalls
What can fail a car inspection in MA? ›
- 1 – Missing Car Components. If your car is missing certain components, then you will fail the inspection. ...
- 2 – Check Engine Light Active. ...
- 3 – Damaged Windshield. ...
- 4 – Non-compliant Modifications.
A car cannot pass a Massachusetts inspection (if it is less than fifteen years old) if the readiness monitors are not set or if the Check Engine Light is on. In many cars, the monitors can take as many as 100+ miles to reset.Do they check brakes during inspection Massachusetts? ›
Items such as the braking system, muffler and exhaust, steering, alignment, suspension, tires, horn, windshields, lighting, battery, fuel system, and body components will all be examined.What should be included in the inspection checklist? ›
- Environment. dust, gases, fumes, sprays, lighting, noise, ventilation.
- Buildings. windows, doors, floors, stairs, roofs, walls, elevators.
- Containers. ...
- Electrical. ...
- Fire protection equipment. ...
- Hand tools. ...
- Hazardous products. ...
- Materials handling.
- Fluid levels – engine oil, brakes, clutch, power steering and auto transmission fluids (if relevant)
- Windscreen washer.
- Battery – look for signs of corrosion.
- Ensure all lights are working headlights, brake lights, indicators.
- Tyre check – pressure, tread, wear and tear such as cuts or bulges.
The following types of motor vehicles are exempt from the emissions inspection: Cars, trucks and SUVs manufactured before model year 2009 (Note: while these vehicles no longer receive tailpipe emissions tests, if they emit excessive smoke they will fail their safety inspections.)How long can you drive with a failed inspection sticker in MA? ›
A red rejection sticker indicates that the vehicle failed the inspection because of a safety defect. The regulations give owners sixty days to fix a safety defect but allows owners to drive the vehicle during that sixty-day period if all the safety defects are rectified prior to driving the vehicle.Can you be pulled over for expired inspection Ma? ›
Driving a vehicle with an expired inspection sticker is considered a moving violation in Massachusetts. You are subject to being ticketed with a violation that may impact your car insurance rate.Is mass state inspection cash only? ›
Bring your vehicle registration and the $35 inspection fee with you. Payment methods accepted are cash, check and credit card.How can I hide my check engine light for inspection? ›
By the way the easiest way to turn off the check engine light would be to disconnect the battery for 30 seconds. Inorder to pass inspection your car needs to complete a full drive cycle so that all (8) internal monitors have a status of "Ready".
How far do you have to drive to reset the check engine light? ›
To make sure the check engine light does not reappear, it's recommended that you drive your car 30 to 100 miles. This enables the vehicle's “Drive Cycle” to reset, as the various sensors need time to recalibrate.Will my car pass inspection with ABS light on Massachusetts? ›
Although the ABS feature assists the motorist with emergency braking, ABS is not part of the Massachusetts Vehicle Check safety inspection; therefore inspectors cannot fail vehicles for an illuminated ABS Lamp. 4.What happens if your car fails inspection twice in MA? ›
What if my vehicle doesn't pass the re-test? If your vehicle does not pass a re-test or otherwise comply with program requirements within 60 days of its initial inspection, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may suspend your registration.Can I pass inspection with airbag light on MA? ›
We no longer fail model year 2007 and older vehicles if the airbag light is on, or if the airbag is missing or has been deployed.What is a basic checklist? ›
What is a simple checklist template? A simple checklist template is any kind of process or list of tasks arranged in the form of a checklist; in other words, it's a to-do list where the order of tasks is usually important.What are the 7 steps of inspection process? ›
- Step 1: Vehicle Overview.
- Step 2: Check Engine Compartment.
- Step 3: Start Engine and Inspect Inside the Cab.
- Step 4: Turn Off Engine and Check Lights. ...
- Step 5: Do Walkaround Inspection. ...
- Step 6: Check Signal Lights.
- Step 7: Start the Engine and Check.
- Some of the most critical car checks don't need specialist engineers or mechanics; you can perform the checks yourself. ...
- What is a FLOWER check?
- F – Fuel. ...
- L – Lights. ...
- O – Oil. ...
- W – Water. ...
- E – Electrics. ...
- R- Rubber.
What are the four major components of an inspection report? All these items are categorized into 4 major components. The major components are structural, electrical, plumbing and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system.What year do you not need a title in MA? ›
The Massachusetts title law requires that all motor vehicles and trailers be titled within 10 days of purchase. Passenger vehicles with a model year of 1980 and older, purchased before November 26, 1990 are exempt from titling. Trailers that are 3,000 pounds or less are also exempt and do not need a title.How much does a car inspection cost in MA? ›
Inspections cost $35 for most vehicles. Inspection stations can charge more for commercial inspection.
What happens if you drive with no inspection sticker Ma? ›
The penalty for driving vehicles with an expired sticker, or driving an uninspected vehicle, may result in a moving violation and lead to additional fines, or suspension if unpaid, and even a surchargeable incident which increases the vehicle owner's insurance costs.What is the new rule for Massachusetts inspection sticker? ›
As of October 1, 2022, vehicle owners are no longer receiving a printed inspection report when a vehicle passes inspection. Instead, owners can easily access and print a report by going online to Mass Vehicle Check or by using a cell phone and scanning the QR code on the poster displayed at the inspection site.Can you get pulled over for a rejected inspection sticker in MA? ›
A person could be ticketed for driving in a car that failed a safety inspection. If it is emissions-related, repairs must be made and the car must pass a re-test within 60 days.What does a red R mean on a car? ›
As a new driver, you have to drive a car fitted with R-Plates for one year after passing your test. These plates let other road users know you are a new driver, and to make allowances for your speed and experience.Is there a grace period for expired inspection sticker in MA 2022? ›
2022 inspection completed a month late in January will now only last until Dec. 2023, a year after the car's inspection expired. Those who get their cars inspected early or on time, meanwhile, may not even notice a change.What happens if I don t get my car inspected within 7 days in mass? ›
Cars that are newly registered in Massachusetts must have an inspection within seven days of the registration date. Failure to have a new vehicle inspected can result in a fine. As of 2010, each citation for failing to have the vehicle inspected will result in a $50 fine.How many days after inspection expires in Massachusetts? ›
After you get safety defects fixed, your Certificate of Rejection allows you to operate your vehicle for up to 60 days, while arranging for re-inspection. Until your vehicle is re-inspected, be sure to keep the repair receipts in your vehicle as proof that you are complying with the law.Can you pay MA inspection with credit card? ›
Accepted forms of payment are: cash, check, money order, Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards.What is the fine for no inspection in MA? ›
You can get pulled over for the offense, and may get a $40 fine. It costs $35 to get a new inspection sticker at any of the 1,800 inspection stations in the state.How much is a ticket for expired inspection sticker in Massachusetts? ›
Under state law, all vehicles registered in Massachusetts must pass an annual emissions and safety inspection, which costs $35. Driving with an expired sticker is a traffic violation that comes with a $40 citation.
Can a scanner clear a check engine light? ›
Connecting to an OBD-II Port
You plug an OBD-II scanner tool into it and, in most cases, out pops a code that tells you what the problem is. The scanner also allows you to clear the vehicle's internal code, which is what triggered the check-engine light. Do that, and the warning light will turn off.
Will your check engine light turn off by itself? In most cases, successfully repairing the issue that caused your light to come on will cause the check engine light to turn off automatically—but only after 10 to 20 “cycles”.Will a check engine light go off by itself? ›
A check engine light will shut itself off if the condition that caused it is remedied. So, if your converter is marginal, and you did a lot of stop-and-go driving, which creates high demand for the converter, that may have turned on the check engine light.How long do you have to drive to complete a drive cycle? ›
How Long does it Take to Complete a Drive Cycle. Preparation for it will take eight hours but, all in all, a basic drive cycle test should take around 30 minutes to complete, with about 20 minutes of actual driving. Understanding your vehicle's overall health can help you ensure it drives smooth and lasts long.What is the most common problem with check engine light? ›
Oxygen Sensor Malfunction
One of the most common reasons your check engine light may come on is that your oxygen sensor is failing. Your local auto repair shop in Western Washington can replace it for you quickly, which will restore your vehicle's ability to measure unburned oxygen in its exhaust system.
The emissions/exhaust system is the most likely culprit for many check engine lights being illuminated. There could be an exhaust leak or a problem with the catalytic converter. The mass airflow sensor (MAF) is another sensor that is easily tripped or can fail.What is included in the inspection process? ›
Inspections include measuring, testing, examining, or gauging the features of a process or product. The inspectors subsequently compare their findings with specific rules and regulations. If a machine or equipment experienced a failure, inspectors may carry out a failure analysis.How much does it cost for a Massachusetts Vehicle Inspection? ›
All vehicles registered in Massachusetts must pass a yearly vehicle inspection. Inspections cost $35 for most vehicles. Inspection stations can charge more for commercial inspection.How old does your car have to be to not pass emissions Massachusetts? ›
The following types of motor vehicles are exempt from the emissions inspection: Cars, trucks and SUVs manufactured before model year 2009 (Note: while these vehicles no longer receive tailpipe emissions tests, if they emit excessive smoke they will fail their safety inspections.)Are Ma car inspections cash only? ›
How much is the annual inspection for a car in Massachusetts? A. $35.00. Most stations only accept cash but some do accept credit cards.
What is basic or full inspection? ›
Full inspection (100% inspection) is conducted after all products have been manufactured in totality. The much-needed product inspection is carried out to ensure that the final products are in accordance with the client's quality standards.How long does a car inspection Take Massachusetts? ›
Getting your car inspection is fast and easy, there is no appointment necessary. State Inspections are completed on a first come, first serve basis, and take about 25 minutes to complete. Stop in during our MA State Inspection service hours: Monday – Friday 8am – 11am, 1pm-4pm, and Saturday 8am – 10am.Is there a grace period for car inspection in MA? ›
Any vehicle owner late in getting a vehicle inspected, beyond one year from the last inspection, will no longer get a sticker displaying the month the new inspection occurred.Do I need to get my car inspected before I get it registered in MA? ›
All newly purchased vehicles must be inspected within seven days of the vehicle registration date and will receive a sticker of the month in which it was inspected and is valid for one year. “Safety of the Commonwealth's roadways is the most important reason for motor vehicle inspections.Do you need a title for a 10 year old car in Massachusetts? ›
The Massachusetts title law requires that all motor vehicles and trailers be titled within 10 days of purchase. Passenger vehicles with a model year of 1980 and older, purchased before November 26, 1990 are exempt from titling. Trailers that are 3,000 pounds or less are also exempt and do not need a title.