How Long Does a Car Inspection Take?

Our cars are arguably the most important thing for us in any given situation. Some people might push back, saying a home is first, then reliable transportation—and I’m not really here to agree or disagree. From my perspective, it’s a draw: people need homes, yet others find it more comfortable sleeping out of their vehicle. Either way, both are subject to entropy. Both will require maintenance at some point.

Let’s focus on the former: cars and their maintenance. The best thing you can do to ensure maintenance remains a low-to-mid level hit to your wallet is consistent and regular inspections. We might not think about it, but this is something that comes to the forefront at some point past a car’s purchase. It will happen.

Read through to find out what it takes to keep things running smooth 24/7.

New Or Used?

That’s probably the first question to primarily consider, to get more accurate answers. Do you have a new or used vehicle? Are you about to make a purchase? Purchasing a new or used vehicle will always have its advantages and disadvantages, which will only become more coarse-grained as the years roll through.

There is a litany of reasons for this on both sides of the coin, so for the sake of keeping things simple and clear, here are a few things to consider:

New Car

Maintenance can be provided by default through the dealership. The details of this are largely dependent upon whether you have a lease agreement or if it’s a retail purchase. In essence, the very nature of these transactions outlines a stark difference in the way maintenance and inspections happen.

man at the auto show

Used Car

Used means a lot of things. In the case of a vehicle, it means maintenance and inspections are primarily done by you. This can also be taken to mean a lot of the issues you’re faced with will be caused or averted by your decisions—a majority of the time.

Length is influenced by these predetermining conditions, which is to say, the length of time it takes to run a new vehicle through an inspection will be different than a used one. A new car is typically put through an inspection before it’s driven out of the lot (a positive caveat to bear in mind).

For a used car, however, this simply isn’t the case. Here, you’ll have to take your time to conduct your own check-up or inspection prior to purchasing the vehicle from its owner. Be the type of shrewd buy that looks over things like the battery, tires, engine, headlights, and brakes. These are only some of the things you’ll be needing to add to a checklist.

The Relative Length of An Inspection

Aside from the aforementioned details, and knowing the chips can fall in either a short visit or long checkup, it’s important to keep a crude baseline from which to really start mapping out your individual car’s average length for an inspection or repair. If you’re not discovering hidden issues lurking under the hood when the mechanic begins running his tests, then the average time it takes to run an inspection is 40 minutes, give or take.

This is a dynamic process in and of itself, and to understand all the moving parts of an inspection, we’ll take a look at some of the most salient points to take away when sectioning-off a bit of your time in your schedule when staging one.

Understanding What Affects the Inspection

As you begin to look at the finer details of what goes into the length of an inspection, you’ll begin to look for small tells that will help illustrate what you want to look for.

Whether it’s new or used, your vehicle will be subject to its individual criteria and this will vary in slight ways that are a direct effect of the state you live in. This means that the laws of the state you live in have an impact on the length of time in an inspection.

Some shops are better than others. Professional ones handle your vehicle with more care and have more experienced mechanics and technicians available. This may go without saying, but for the sake of clarity: the more the combined years of experience, the faster you’re out the door.

Selective focus of smiling mechanic inspecting car engine

There’s a first-come-first-serve basis typically in effect, but others may still take a more appointment-based way. The ball’s in your court on that one. What works for you won’t always work for others. In addition to this, it’s important to understand that the likeliest process is a hybrid of this, where you’ll arrive, or call—then be scheduled a time, or if there’s an opening to have a look taken at it.

It could be argued of importance in understanding this (in case you just didn’t know this going in), but mechanics work one thing at a time. It’s just not professional to drop what they’re doing, and immediately start working your car.

The Link Between Diagnostics and A Lawful Vehicle

So there’s more to the length of time than you would think. Again, this depends largely upon what kind of vehicle you’re looking at here (new or used), but the point being made here, remains the same: without a stamp of approval, you’re not going to be driving out anytime soon.

Adhering to the state laws in place for what constitutes a safe vehicle differs from state line to state line, but the central idea is the same: taking the time to educate yourself on this peripheral area of maintenance will help you avoid certain headaches later on.
You can think of this in a consequential manner:

  • You need a stamp of approval.
  • Without it, your vehicle isn’t safe to drive.
  • Driving around without this may get your car taken away if you’re pulled over and this is discovered.
  • In the case you don’t get your car checked out for noise or arhythmic lapse in its function, this will cause your car to become inoperable or break down on you later on.
  • Although a new car can be maintained better through the dealership, you may still have to pay out of pocket, depending on the parameters of the contractual agreement or transaction arrangement made at the time of purchase.
  • In either case, the bottom line is the same: you’ll have your car in a more reliable running condition the more you’re staying on top of it.

This is merely a link in a long chain of how a society functions and a car’s maintenance plays into the bigger picture. Avoiding a breakdown at a critical moment, or evading a nasty ticket altogether are only part of the reason for understanding the importance and overall length of time per an inspection.

And So, For The Sake of Emphasis…

Car inspections are important. Checkups are an inevitability in the overall story of being a car owner. An inspection’s length of time depends on several things. This includes the efficacy and professionalism of the shop, whether you’re planning on owning a new or used vehicle, or what the state laws require for your car to be able to receive its tags and be legally safe to be on the road.

It’s important to understand the variables you’ll be factoring in, as these will start to paint a unique picture of what your situation looks like, and what your next steps need to be. Aside from keeping a vehicle running and in a safe condition, this is a service you’re doing to yourself, your finances, and the safety of your family.