Vehicle Inspection Rules Change Aug. 1

STATE – Beginning Aug. 1, biennial passenger vehicle inspections will entail only an emissions check and the exemption for new and used vehicles four years old or newer will be extended to five years under program changes announced Friday by New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

The changes, which will produce an approximate annual savings of $17 million, will take effect as the MVC continues its efforts to encourage vehicle owner responsibility and regular maintenance through its NJ Inspections public education campaign.


While announcing the changes to the state’s Enhanced Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program, Martinez also stressed the need for vehicle owners to take proper care of their cars and trucks with regular maintenance, including oil changes, tire pressure checks and replacement, brake repairs and general tune ups. In 2009, the MVC, along with DEP, launched the NJ Inspections campaign aimed at educating vehicle owners about the importance of vehicle maintenance and servicing vehicles in between inspection visits.

“Owning a vehicle is just as much of a responsibility as driving one,” said Martinez. “Not only must a driver act responsibly behind the wheel, but keeping the vehicle well maintained and road ready is equally important. This is why our local service stations and auto dealerships play such a critical role in helping to keep our cars and trucks in excellent working shape with regular servicing.”

Soon to join 29 other jurisdictions, including California, Connecticut and Illinois, New Jersey-registered passenger vehicles required to submit for an inspection every two years will no longer be reviewed for mechanical-related defects. Inspectors will only conduct an emissions test. Of the 1.9 million initial vehicle inspections conducted annually at centralized lanes, only six percent are rejected for more serious mechanical defects related to brakes, steering, suspension or tires.

Despite this elimination of mechanical inspections, law enforcement may still cite a motorist for equipment out of compliance or failure to make repairs. MVC Mobile Inspection Teams will continue to regularly assist state and local law enforcement in conducting random vehicle inspections statewide. Vehicles that fail an inspection for mechanical defects prior to the start of the August 1 changes will still require repair and a re-inspection in order to obtain a valid inspection sticker.

Additionally, the exemption for new and used vehicles four model years old and newer will expand to five years. Presently, these vehicles are not required to be inspected until they are four years old from the date of registration, followed by regular inspections every two years. Vehicles will be provided with five-year stickers at the time of purchase, but those already on the road will receive a “1-Year Extension” sticker in the mail. Owners will be required to attach the extension sticker to the inspection decal already on the vehicle’s windshield.

“Cars are now made cleaner, more efficient, and with less than six percent of newer vehicles failing emissions testing, this was a common sense decision for the MVC,” added Martinez. “The extension allows New Jersey to maintain its stringent emissions testing while MVC customers gain the convenience of one additional year before they have to visit the inspection lanes.”

Changes to the I/M program will be implemented as a part of the MVC’s fiscal year 2011 budget. The changes, specifically the elimination of mechanical defect inspections, were proposed after a careful review of data, reports and studies related to vehicle inspections. States, educational institutions and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have all studied the issue of vehicle inspections with data inconclusive as to their effectiveness.

“If we’re going to invest millions of taxpayer dollars year after year in a program, then it is essential that we be able to justify the expense and effectiveness of said program,” said Martinez. “With a lack of conclusive data, and the current fiscal crisis, we cannot justify this expense.”

Along with the change to the inspection of passenger vehicles, motorcycles and certain diesel-powered vehicles will no longer be required to submit for an inspection every two years. None of these vehicles presently undergo an emissions test. It should be noted that school buses, limousines, jitneys, taxis and other commercial-plated vehicles will still be inspected regularly for emissions and mechanical defects as outlined in state law.

Each year, the state’s 29 centralized inspection lanes conduct 2.4 million inspections/re-inspections, while an additional 578,000 are done for a fee by more than 1,100 licensed, private facilities. More information about New Jersey’s vehicle inspection program is available at

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