When you take a car, truck, or SUV out on the road, you want to have some confidence that it'll hold up to the demands of driving. Not surprisingly, many states and some companies also want to know the same thing about the cars that are on the road. Auto inspections can give motorists greater trust in their vehicles, but there are some things you should know before you visit a shop.

Who Requires Inspections?

Inspection regimes vary wildly across the U.S., and the pattern doesn't always have a real logic to it. For example, the state of Alaska, despite having insanely difficult terrain and long driving distances, doesn't require inspections at all. California requires smog and emissions testing, but safety inspections aren't mandatory. Pennsylvania is one of the strictest with yearly safety checks. Others, like Alabama, only require an inspection when a vehicle is transferred to a new owner.

Notably, many companies now require safety checks, too. With the rise of the gig economy, folks who intend to drive for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft will have to comply with those companies' safety checklists. It's a good idea if you're signing up to be one of their drivers to get a current copy of the checklist. You can then present this to the auto inspections services driver in case there's a difference between the corporate and state requirements.

What Does an Inspection Entail?

A standard safety check of an automobile will cover several factors that keep its occupants and other people safe. Brake systems and tire tread have to be sufficient to provide stopping capability. The suspension system, especially where it ties into the steering controls, will be inspected for damage or wear, too. Cracks in a windshield may need to be addressed if they're spidering or beyond a certain size.

In many states, smog and emissions tests are separate from the safety inspection. You should be clear about this issue before you take your ride in for an inspection.

Building in Time for an Inspection

It's wise to have an inspection conducted a little bit in advance of when your sticker for a vehicle expires if you're in a state that considers that a motor vehicle code violation. Try taking your car to the shop about a month in advance of the expiration date. This will allow you to have work performed if there's anything that needs to be fixed.

Reach out to an auto inspection professional to learn more about the requirements in your area.