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Everything You Need to Know About Texas Inspection Stickers Ending in 2025

For as long as most Texans can remember, we’ve had Texas inspection stickers on our vehicles. Many of us remember the days when those stickers went on our license plate. We then moved to have two stickers inside our windshields – one for registration and the other for inspection.

At one point Texas had a second sticker for inspections
What the inspection sticker looked like in Texas.

In 2013, Texas moved to a single-sticker system that made getting your registration updated based on passing your vehicle inspection.

Texas moved to a one-sticker system
Texas moved to a single sticker following inspection and registration

In January 2025, Texas will no longer require non-commercial vehicles to undergo an annual safety inspection. Beginning next year, unless you live in one of the 17 most populated counties in Texas, you won’t have to go through an annual inspection or test. While drivers will still pay the inspection fee, the physical inspection process will be eliminated for most Texans.

What is the Texas Vehicle Inspection Program?

The Texas Vehicle Inspection Program was designed to ensure vehicles met minimum safety and emissions standards. Starting in 2025, most Texans will no longer have a safety inspection requirement, although Texans in some counties will have to complete an emissions-only test.

Inspection Requirements in Texas

Current Requirements: Vehicles must undergo an annual safety inspection.

New Law (Effective 2025): Only emissions testing is required in designated counties; safety inspections for non-commercial vehicles will no longer be necessary.

How to Obtain a Texas Inspection Sticker (Until 2025)

1. Locate an authorized inspection station.
2. Bring the required documents: vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and payment for the inspection fee.
3. Have your vehicle inspected.
4. Upon passing the inspection, receive your sticker.

Who Will Need to Complete an Emissions Test?

If you live in any of the following counties, you will still be required to get an emissions test:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth Area: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, and Tarrant Counties
  • Houston-Galveston-Brazoria Area: Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, and Montgomery Counties
  • Austin Area: Travis and Williamson Counties
  • El Paso Area: El Paso County
  • San Antonio Area: Bexar County (beginning on November 1, 2026)

Types of Emissions Tests

The type of emissions test your vehicle undergoes depends on its age and type. Here are the common types of emissions tests performed in Texas:

On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) Test

Applicability: For vehicles model year 1996 and newer.
Process: A scanner is connected to the vehicle’s OBD system to check for trouble codes that indicate emissions-related issues. This test can quickly identify problems with the engine, transmission, and other critical components that affect emissions.

Accelerated Simulation Mode (ASM) Test

Applicability: For vehicles model year 1995 and older.
Process: This test simulates driving conditions on a dynamometer (a set of rollers) to measure the emissions output of the vehicle while it is “driving” at various speeds and loads. It measures pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.

Two-Speed Idle (TSI) Test

Applicability: For older vehicles or vehicles that cannot be tested using the OBD or ASM methods.
Process: The vehicle is tested at idle and a higher idle speed to measure emissions output. This test is less comprehensive but still effective for detecting major emissions issues.

Emissions Testing Process

Pre-Inspection Check: The inspector will verify that the vehicle’s check engine light is not illuminated. If it is, the vehicle will not pass the emissions test. Basic vehicle information, such as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), is recorded.

Connecting the Equipment: For OBD tests, the scanner is connected to the OBD port, usually located under the dashboard. For ASM or TSI tests, the vehicle is placed on the dynamometer or tested at idle.

Running the Test: The appropriate test is conducted based on the vehicle’s specifications. For OBD, data is read from the vehicle’s computer. For ASM, the vehicle is “driven” on the dynamometer, and emissions are measured. For TSI, emissions are measured at idle.

Results and Analysis: The test results are printed out, showing whether the vehicle has passed or failed. If the vehicle fails, the printout will include diagnostic trouble codes and possible reasons for failure.

What to Do If Your Vehicle Fails the Emissions Test

Diagnostic and Repairs: Take the vehicle to a qualified mechanic to diagnose and repair the issues indicated by the test results.

Re-Testing: After repairs are made, the vehicle must be retested. Many inspection stations offer a free re-test within a certain timeframe.

Tips for Passing the Emissions Test

Regular Maintenance: Keep up with regular vehicle maintenance, including oil changes, air filter replacements, and spark plug checks.

Check Engine Light: Ensure your check engine light is off before going for the test. Address any issues that trigger this light promptly.

Drive Your Car: Drive your vehicle for at least 20 minutes before the test to ensure it is warmed up and operating at optimal efficiency.

Changes in the Fee Structure

Current Fee: $7.50 annual safety inspection fee.

New Fee (Effective 2025): $7.50 added to the annual vehicle registration fee.

Fee Allocation:

  • $3.50 to the Texas Mobility Fund
  • $2 to the state General Fund
  • $2 to the Clean Air Account

New Car Buyers: One-time fee of $16.75 at registration.

Safety Recommendations Post-2025

The Texas Department of Public Safety advises that vehicle owners should regularly inspect their vehicles even though state-mandated safety inspections will end. This includes periodic checks and professional inspections during routine maintenance.

Impact on Safety and Businesses

Safety Concerns: Eliminating the safety inspection could lead to more unsafe vehicles on the road. Regular inspections help identify and address vehicle deficiencies that could pose a risk. Issues such as bald tires, bad brakes, malfunctioning lighting, poor steering, windshield cracks, horns, mirrors, and seat belts will no longer be regulated by the state.

Business Impact: Many inspection stations, like Al’s Drive Thru Inspection in Waco, will close, affecting jobs and local economies. These businesses provide a critical service, ensuring vehicles are roadworthy.

Public Opinion

Proponents Opponents
Many drivers appreciate the convenience of not having to undergo annual inspections, despite still paying the fee. Some worry about the potential increase in unsafe vehicles on the roads.

Did You Know Child Support Arrears Prevent Vehicle Registration?

When a noncustodial parent has not made a child support payment in more than six months, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) may ask the Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) to deny the noncustodial parent’s ability to renew their vehicle registration.

How to Know if Your Registration Has Been Denied: If your registration renewal is denied, you will receive a letter from the OAG notifying you of your denial 120 days (3 months) before your registration expiration. You will also receive your registration paperwork from TxDMV, with the denial notification printed on the front.

Payment Requirements: You will need to make at least a $200 lump sum payment per delinquent child support case and enter into an arrears payment agreement to address the issue.

Conclusion

The upcoming change in Texas vehicle inspection laws marks a significant shift in the state’s approach to vehicle safety. While it may reduce drivers’ inconvenience, it also raises concerns about road safety and the economic impact on inspection businesses. For detailed advice and assistance, contact Varghese Summersett at (817) 203-2220 or online today.

Varghese Summersett is a premier criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. Our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal law and represent clients charged with crimes at both the state and federal level. We handle everything from DWI to capital murder to white collar crime. Collectively, our attorneys bring together more than 100 years of criminal law experience and have tried more than 550 cases before Texas juries. All of our senior attorneys served as former state or federal prosecutors and four are Board Certified in Criminal law, the highest designation an attorney can reach. We are the firm people turn to when the stakes are high and they are facing the biggest problem in their lives. - Contact Varghese at  
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