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Division of Motor Vehicles

Vehicle Services Inspections

General Inspection Information

The Division performs vehicle inspection at all four DMV facilities. The inspections are performed for no fee. Usually, all vehicles being titled for the first time in Delaware must be inspected. There is an exception for new vehicles never titled in any state sold by dealers who provide the buyer a Delaware Application for Title (MV212A form). These vehicles are not required to be inspected. The newest seven model years of vehicles, weighing 10,000 pounds or less and being titled for the first time in Delaware, may only be required to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.

A typical automobile inspection consists of a safety inspection covering such items as tires, brakes, windows and an exhaust emissions inspection that analyses the vehicle's exhaust and a test of the fuel system for leaks. In order to transfer an out-of-state trailer into Delaware, it must pass a full safety inspection. Out-of-state trailers exceeding a 4,000-pound weight limit, or any trailer equipped with brakes, must pass brake and safety inspections. Once a trailer is titled in Delaware, those registered at 4,000 pounds or less no longer need inspection to renew registration. All trailers exceeding a 4,000-pound weight limit must pass brake and safety inspections every two (2) years. All DMV inspection technicians are certified and trained in all aspects of the inspection process.

A vehicle inspection may occur up to 90 days before the registration expiration date. An early inspection within this 90-day cycle will not change the normal expiration date. DMV, as required by Delaware law, charges a late fee in addition to the normal registration fee for all renewals performed after the registration expiration date of the vehicle. Owners are required to provide DMV with valid proof of Delaware liability insurance and a Vehicle Inspection Report for their vehicle to renew their registration.

Most gasoline-powered automobiles and light trucks model year 1981 and newer will receive a low and high speed (two-speed) exhaust emissions test. Gasoline-powered automobiles and light trucks 1980 model year and older will continue to receive the current (curb idle) tests. Diesel fueled vehicles model year 1996 and older are currently exempt from exhaust emissions testing but must pass safety testing for registration renewal. Diesel fueled vehicles model year 1997 and newer must pass an OBD-II test.

The Division emails or voicemails (sign up here) registration renewal notices to each vehicle owner of record approximately 90, 60, and 30 days before a registration expiration date of a vehicle. The notification allows some vehicle owners to renew their registration by mail without having their vehicle inspected. The mail-in registration renewal option is only available for certain model year vehicles and depends on the vehicle's weight, type of vehicle and the number of years renewed in the last renewal cycle. Owners renewing registrations of vehicles in the first seven model years can proceed to the nearest DMV registration renewal section to complete the registration process. Owners who change their address during a registration period must notify DMV to assure that the next renewal notice goes to the correct address (change of address form.

Check the Vehicle Inspection Program FAQ's for more information on the inspection program.

Tips for passing inspection:

  • Make sure your engine is thoroughly warmed up before you arrive so it is operating at peak efficiency.
  • Turn off all accessories (air conditioning, heater, radio, etc.) before entering the inspection facility.
  • Fast idle your engine for 30 seconds just prior to entering the inspection facility.
  • Make sure that all front seat occupants have their safety belts fastened. All children must be secured in a child restraint seat or safety belt.
  • Know the location of your vehicle's hood release lever.
  • Provide the key for fuel caps that lock.
  • Check your turn signals, lights, horn and windshield wipers. Have obvious defects repaired before inspection.
  • Pay careful attention to the maintenance of your brakes and tires. For safety reasons inspectors have very strict standards for passage of these two items.
  • If you have any questions, ask the DMV inspector for assistance.