After weeks of uncertainty, a bill to provide relief to drivers for NC state inspections and motor vehicle renewals passed. Prior to the bill, police officers in Raleigh NC used discretion when they came across drivers whose vehicle registrations had expired. In many cases, they refrained from issuing citations too. Pandemic restrictions made car inspections and trips to the DMV impossible.
In mid-May, more than 15,000 confirmed cases and 550 coronavirus deaths were reported. Law enforcement correctly assumed that drivers complying COVID-19 standards and the closure of DMV offices, weren’t able to obtain NC state safety inspections. The new bill gives drivers six months to get their inspections done; this measure will be retroactive to May 1 or May 10 once Governor Roy Cooper signs the bill into law.
How the NC State Inspection Will Work in 2020
If your vehicle is registered near North Hills or Glenwood Avenue, your car must pass both safety and emissions inspections before you can renew the registration. The relief bill not only extends the NC state inspection requirement by six months but also waives fines and penalties if the expiration takes place before the first day of August. Keep in mind that financial responsibility requirements are not waived by this bill, which means that payments of annual motor vehicle taxes and insurance policies must still be kept current.
In March, Governor Cooper declared auto service shops as essential business that could remain operational during the pandemic, which means that you can get your car inspected or repaired at this time, but now you have somsae leeway thanks to the bill. If you are at high risk of infection because of age or health issues, you do not have to rush to get the NC safety inspection done; in fact, you can send someone else drive your car to the shop.
With the above in mind, it is important to remember that 22 metropolitan counties in the Tar Heel require both emissions testing and safety inspections. The emissions test deals with air quality standards established at the federal level. But only if your car, truck, or SUV has 70,000 miles or more. Cars manufactured prior to 1995 are exempt from emissions testing. If your vehicle has the check engine light on it could be because of an emissions problem. Such as a clog in your exhaust or a malfunctioning catalytic converter.
The Importance of NC State Inspections
There is more than just regulatory compliance and the registration requirement with regard to NC state inspections. In essence these inspections determine the mechanical and functional status key components of vehicles. Such as:
- steering system
- window tint
- windshield wipers
- all exterior lights
There is no getting around this inspection even if your car is exempt from emissions testing. Unless of course you drive a classic that rolled off the assembly line before 1983.
The NC state inspection is for the benefit of all drivers. With completion of nearly 9 million inspections in 2019, not all were satisfactory. As you can imagine, being able to properly steer, brake, and operate headlights, taillights, and turn signals is crucial to staying safe on the road. This is in the best interest of everyone on the road, including drivers, bike riders, and pedestrians.
What Happens if You Don’t Pass the NC Safety Inspection
Let’s say you are the proud owner of a Tesla Model 3. In this case, without an internal combustion engine, you’ve already aced the emissions testing! But you must still pass the safety inspection prior to being able to renew your vehicle registration. Whereas there are a couple of waivers that apply to emissions testing, this is not the case with the safety inspection. If your Tesla fails because of steering issues, repair prior to retest is mandatory.
For the most part, getting NC safety inspection problems fixed is not as expensive as repairing emissions systems. For instance, the Tesla Model 3, this is an American car with a comprehensive warranty. Therefore, the first thing you should check is whether the automaker covers the cost of repairs. The next step is to arrange for repairs. This is when the aforementioned NC House bill will be of great benefit. It gives you a few additional months to get any necessary auto repairs.
Replacing the steering column of a Tesla Model 3 is a major repair. Now is the time to take care of those major mechanical overhauls preventing you from passing inspection. A passed NC state inspection certificate is a requirement for renewing automobile license plates in North Carolina.
Finally, window tinting. The law in NC is no more than 32%. Keep in mind, this is well over the level automakers apply to most all models. If your car has a darker tint or a windshield stripe larger than five inches, you may need to remove it.