When you buy a car, used or new, you know that you will need to have your car serviced regularly. You will need new tires, an oil change, possibly even larger maintenance items like shocks and struts or a new transmission. You expect these needs for your vehicle and you can plan for them.
What many people do not realize is that Pennsylvania also requires that your car undergo regular safety inspections, above and beyond any maintenance you may have done. In fact, according to PA car inspection laws, you must have your vehicle inspected immediately after you register a new or used car. Then, your car must pass an inspection every year when you renew your PA car registration.
These laws are not optional. As a PA driver, you must follow these rules. Their intention, like all highway safety laws, is to keep people safe. Having regular inspections helps ensure that your vehicle is safe to be on the road.
Many PA drivers are not sure what to bring to an inspection, when to get one, or the cost of noncompliance. Here is a guide to help answer some of your questions. For more specific information about your legal options, contact an attorney today.
Pennsylvania separates vehicles into distinct classes. Most drivers fall into the passenger car category.
For your family vehicle, your safety inspection will include:
- Electrical systems
- Fuel systems
- Lighting systems
Getting a safety inspection is required and you will pay a fee. If you are a new Pennsylvania resident, you must have your car inspected upon moving to PA. Existing Pennsylvania residents must have an inspection completed every year.
Safety Inspection Scheduling
When it is time for you to complete a safety inspection for your vehicle, you can get it inspected at a PA safety center or an approved repair garage or service station. The purpose of PA vehicle safety inspections is to remove unsafe vehicles from the road. Improperly maintained vehicles or those with serious mechanical issues the owner may not know about often cause accidents. Requiring an annual safety inspection helps to decrease the chances of a serious accident resulting in injury or death.
When your vehicle passes a safety inspection, you receive a sticker that goes on your windshield. It is a small sticker that you can place in a far corner and it will not obstruct your view. The sticker shows that your vehicle has passed the required safety inspection, allowing you to travel safely on PA roads and highways.
If you do not have an up-to-date sticker, which would mean you failed to have your vehicle inspected as required by law, you could face fines and penalties for noncompliance. You could be pulled over by police and given a citation if you do not have a sticker or your safety inspection sticker is out of date. This citation can result in a fine of up to $500.
Passing a Safety Inspection
Now that you know you must have your vehicle inspected annually, you may want to know how to pass a safety inspection. You can help keep your car up-to-date and safe for road travel by taking small but important steps. Changing your wiper blades regularly and checking your car’s oil can give you the best chance to pass your safety inspection.
Your inspection will look to make sure your vehicle is in regular and normal working order. But, it will also include an anti-tampering check. This examination of your car will test your emission system to see if any components have been removed or modified.
If your vehicle passes none of the visual or mechanical safety inspections, you need to know what happens next. If your vehicle fails the inspection, you will need to complete repairs, then return for a re-inspection.
Common Inspection Failures
Not every vehicle will pass the inspection on the first try. You will have time to fix any issues and get your car re-inspected. But many issues can cause your car to fail the inspection.
Knowing what to look for before you take your car in for your PA car inspection can give you a better chance of passing.
- Tires. Check your tires for proper air pressure. Make sure there are no bulges in the sidewall, and there must be adequate treads on the tires.
- Lighting. Every light in your car must turn on and off and be in full working order. Headlights must also have functioning high beams and low beams. You also need to make sure your parking, backup lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are in working order.
- Chassis. Inspectors will check your car’s body to ensure it is in proper working order. Your bumpers, hood, hood latches, and doors must work properly and close properly. Your chassis must also be in perfect condition, have no cracks, and no visible damage.
- Brakes. Your brakes are an integral component to keeping your vehicle and you safe. The inspection will closely examine your brake calipers, cylinders, and hydraulic system. If these pieces show any signs of leaks or mechanical issues, your vehicle will fail the inspection.
Signs Your Vehicle Might Be Unsafe
It is good practice to pay attention to your vehicle and take regular steps to ensure it is in good working order. Do this before your annual inspection, but also at regular intervals throughout the year. Paying attention to changes in how your car starts or drives can help you stay on top of any issues that may arise and become more serious if left untreated.
You should regularly check your car’s:
- Wiper blades
- Fluid levels
- Oil level
- Tire pressure
You also need to pay attention to your car’s temperature gauge when driving. It should never get too hot. You should also notice where the gauge usually sits and have your car checked if the temperature starts to rise. This could indicate that your coolant system is not operating correctly.
Ignoring any warning lights your vehicle provides can also be dangerous. Every make of car comes with slightly different warning systems. Make sure you review your car’s manual so you know what each warning indicator means and what action you need to take. Some warning lights are more time-sensitive than others. Some may even require you to immediately pull off the road and stop driving, as the warning could indicate a serious failure with your car.
What to Do When You Are in an Accident With an Untested Car
While you are responsible for having your car inspected and ensuring you have an up-to-date inspection sticker on display, other PA drivers are also responsible for bringing their cars in for inspections. In Pennsylvania, it is against the law for a driver to operate an uninspected vehicle or improperly display an active inspection certificate on the windshield.
Even so, some people willingly violate this law and still drive. When their car fails in some way, it may cause an accident.
If you are in an accident with an untested vehicle, following these steps could ensure your safety and your ability to recover compensation for your injuries and damages:
- Call 911. Whenever you are involved in a car accident, even if it is a minor fender bender, you should call 911. When you do, the police will arrive at the scene and speak with any witnesses, both drivers, and use this information to create a police accident report. While they may not assign fault, the police report may imply who was at-fault in the accident. Their police report will also note that the other driver was driving in violation of PA car inspection laws.
- Get medical attention. When you call 911, you can also request that emergency medical personnel come to the accident scene. They will evaluate you and determine if you need additional medical assistance or ambulance transportation for hospital treatment. Even if your accident is minor, you still need to seek medical attention. Your regular doctor may evaluate you and determine if you have suffered any injuries you may not be aware of. Some injuries can be minor and your adrenaline may mask the pain. Ensuring that your body is healthy is of the utmost importance after a car accident.
- Take pictures. At the accident scene, you want to take as many pictures and videos as you can, including images of expired or non-existent inspection certificates on the other vehicle. Your injuries may prevent you from taking pictures yourself, so ask a trusted friend or family member to do so. Get images of both vehicles, any damage, the full accident scene, and close pictures of any visible injuries you may have.
- Speak with witnesses. Witnesses to your car accident can provide key evidence about the seconds leading up to impact. They can be vital to your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. But not all witnesses will wait around for the police to arrive. Because of this, make sure you at least get contact information from any witness so the police and your legal team can speak with them later.
- Contact a trusted car accident attorney. When you suffer injuries in a car accident, the last thing from your mind is filing a claim. You have limited time to file your claim in Pennsylvania so you need to act quickly. While you focus on your health and wellbeing, your legal advisor can begin the process of helping you collect every dollar you deserve. The last thing you want is to end up paying out of your own pocket for medical expenses and financial losses related to your car accident, an accident you did not cause.
Collecting Damages After Your Accident
When you suffer injuries in a car accident, the point of filing a claim is to collect compensation from the at-fault driver. If you do not file your claim on time, you could waive your right to collect money from the negligent driver, leaving you to pay out of pocket for your medical expenses.
Your lawyer may try to get you compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Present and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
Depending on the severity of your injuries, your medical expenses could become astronomical. The more severe your injuries, the more medical care you will need, the more expensive your financial burden becomes. Two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings each year result from extremely high medical bills. Do not let yourself become a statistic. Speak with an experienced car accident injury lawyer in PA today who can help you file your claim and attempt to collect maximum compensation for your injuries.
Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Getting your car inspected each year is an important step in car ownership for all PA drivers. When someone does not adhere to this law, it could result in an unsafe car taking to the streets. That could cause an accident where you or a loved one suffer injuries.
If that unfortunate situation happens to you, you deserve to have a trusted PA car accident attorney at your side, fighting hard for you to protect your rights and collect every dollar you deserve. The lawyer you choose can make a difference in your ability to collect maximum compensation. Not all lawyers are created equal. You need a lawyer with proven experience to help car accident injury victims like you recover compensation for their injuries, suffering, and financial losses.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident, contact an attorney today to get your questions answered, receive more information about PA car inspection laws, and get help with any violations.