Connecticut Car Inspection Laws, Rules, And Requirements

A Connecticut car inspection is required before you register certain vehicles. Some of these vehicles include ambulances, homemade trailers, street rods, taxis, grey market vans and trucks, Kit cars and any car or truck used for school transportation. The complete list can be found at the Department Of Motor Vehicles website.

A partial list of vehicles requiring an inspection includes camp vehicles, commercial vehicles and trailers, composite and totaled vehicles, cars used for driver’s education, homemade cars, trucks, or trailers, school transportation vehicles, taxis, and wreckers. NOTE:  Camp vehicles are not charged and driver’s education vehicles must be inspected annually. Also, modified off-road vehicle owners should be aware of damage to mufflers, reflectors, fenders, tires, and the chain guard. Conducting your own private inspection before a formal inspection is advised.

We’ll be happy to provide the link and help you find the right information including the closet office to you, times of operation, and documents required before you visit.  Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) verification can not be completed at all locations. However, there is a generally a centrally-located facility in most areas.

CT Inspection Information When Buying Car

Be Careful When Purchasing A Vehicle At An Auction

If you have bought a vehicle at an auction, and it is more than 10 years old, it may require attention. If you make a purchase out of state, the VIN may have to be verified at a local office. This will protect yourself as well as a potential new owner that may not be familiar withe origination or background of the vehicle. Often, at auctions, you are not able to view potential problems that could arise at a later date. We highly encourage you to bring an experienced mechanic to auctions so they can readily view issues you may miss.


Ambulance and taxi inspection fees in Connecticut are only $20. Fire apparatus fees  increase to $25, service buses cost $40 and service buses more than 13 tons cost $80. Payments are accepted at license locations, AAA offices and branch/satellite offices. Of course, we realize that most of you do not drive taxis and ambulances!

The Department of Motor Vehicles will charge an additional $20 if you fail to complete an inspection on time. You can also be refused until your vehicle is determined to be satisfactory for road driving. Common examples where you are turned away include  unsafe or unfit tires, leaking fluids from in or outside vehicle, pets in vehicle (We’re not kidding!), non-working odometer, mechanical issues, and missing or altered VIN.

Typically, you can pay fees by money orders, cash, checks, most credit cards and most debit cards. Some locations may not accept credit cards or cash so it’s best to call in advance. A receipt will be provided after the service has been completed and you have paid in full the cost.


As indicated above, many cars and trucks are required to have inspections. Depending on the type of vehicle, a qualified dealer or repairer may be able to be used. However, often, the initial appointment  may have to be done at the Department Of Motor Vehicles. There are many available locations.

School buses must arrange theirs by appointment and an out-of-state vehicle has two months to register. Meanwhile, if the serial number of the vehicle must be verified, many offices may handle that task including locations at Norwich, Danbury, Bridgeport, Hamden, Waterbury and Enfield. More specific details can be found at the DMV website.

VIN Inspection

A VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) inspection  is mandatory in certain situations. There is no cost if it is conducted at the DMV Wethersfield or Hamden locations. You are only required to bring your vehicle and the process is quick. Upon completion, you’ll be given a verification form which will allow you to complete the registration process. Several of the most common situations where this is needed include:

Vehicles with unreadable or missing VINs.

Formerly used in the military services.

Salvage, grey market, and amphibious vehicles.

Homemade or kit (including trailers).

Motorcycles (1980 and prior).

Dirt Bikes.

Grey Market Vehicles In Connecticut

Typically, if the car (or truck) has been built outside of the US, it may not satisfy our emission and production requirements. These “grey” vehicles  need to be inspected and approved by the EPA and US Customs. Before being approved for driving in our state, a safety and emissions inspection will have to be performed.

The only location available for these procedures is in Wethersfield. They are located at 60 State Street and their weekday hours generally extend to either 4 pm or 5:30 pm. Saturday hours are 8 am to 12:30 pm. Other services are also offered in Wethersfield, including disabled parking permits, duplicate DMV documents, name changes and non-driver ID cards.

A federally-approved conversion shop may be needed to make needed changes before the inspection process. The Department of Transportation and EPA will need to verify that a successful conversion has been completed. Both new and used vehicles will have to show prior ownership documentation.

Drunk Driving

Here’s an easy one. Don’t drive if you have been drinking. Like most states, CT laws are designed to protect consumers and will come down hard if you get a DUI. Any time you are on the road, you can be asked to take a test to check your blood alcohol level. If it above .08, you are considered drunk. This figure drops to .02 if you are under 21.

If you are guilty, it is classified as  a criminal offense. Your vehicle will be immediately towed away and you will be transported to local police headquarters. Until you meet bail, you’ll stay in jail. The ramification on your auto insurance will be swift and severe. Expect a letter from your carrier and a significant increase in your rate.

CT Safety Requirements For Car

Keep Your Car Safe When Driving In Connecticut

Failed Safety

If your vehicle does not pass the safety inspection, you must pass a second one at an approved location. If the failed attempt occurs at a repairer or car dealer, then the second one can take place at that location. However, serial number and windows that are tinted must take place at an authorized location by the DMV here in Ct.

Emissions Testing

Every two years, your vehicle must be tested and typically you receive a notice in the mail. The cost of the test is only $20 and it must be completed in order for you to legally drive your car. Testing dates and times are very flexible and appointments can be set in advance. There are hundreds of sites located throughout the state, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to drive very far for the procedure.

Usually, you can find a location within 20-30 minutes away. They  always have a sign in front (or on the side) of their location with a visible ID number shown. Inside, you can monitor the procedure from an enclosed glass area. Occasionally, some of the centers close and a nearby option will have to be used.

We urge all  drivers to get the test done at least a few months before the due date. You are allowed to schedule an exam up to three months in advance. If you fail the exam, you have two months to correct the issue and re-test. Although you can repair the vehicle yourself, we highly recommend you go to a facility that has the proper certification. You will not have to pay for the re-test. However, if you fail a second time, you will be charged a fee.

What About Motorcycles?

Yes, motorcycles must also be seen and the VIN number must be easily readable by the inspector. Braked must be working (front and back) along with working tail lights and stop lights. A drive chain and odometer is required and the license plate must be shown at the back of the bike. Also, if you have a trailer and it weighs more than 10,000 pounds, it will have to be looked at.

You also need an “endorsement” to drive on public highways. To obtain it, you must have a valid and legal license, consent form signed by a parent (if you are under age 18), passed a vision and motorcycle knowledge test, and completed a novice training course. This course consists of both classroom and riding training.

If you have the endorsement, a large “M” appears on your license. If you are just visiting, you do not need this endorsement. Other exceptions  include short-term residents such as some full-time students, members of the armed forces, or persons working in the state that do not permanently live here.Additional information is available here.


We strive to bring you current and updated information regarding state inspection laws, requirements and saving money on car insurance rates. Significant changes will be posted, including any increased fees or additional training requirements.


July 2015 -  Beginning this month, drivers charged with OUI (Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs) will have their license suspended, and  must install an ignition interlocking device before their license is reinstated. The device will remain active for a longer length of time if there have been prior convictions, or if a blood alcohol test was refused or the driver did not pass.

Persons under age 21 may also be subject to a longer penalty. The device will not start the vehicle if the blood alcohol level is .025 or higher. Of course, if another person attempts to take the test, possible criminal prosecution could result.

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