• Changes to the Massachusetts Car Inspection Process

Closeup of a car inspection sticker on a windshield

Effective November 1, 2022, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is implementing changes to the state’s vehicle inspection process.

Morse, of course, wants to make sure our clients and other drivers in the Bay State understand these new procedures and how to stay in compliance. Below, we answer some questions you might have about the upcoming changes.

How is the new state vehicle inspection process different from the old one?

The changes primarily revolve around the expiration sticker that is given to you after your car passes inspection. As most drivers have experienced, when your car passes, your old sticker is peeled off and you get a new one with a new expiration date.

In the past, the expiration date of this new inspection sticker was set one year from the month in which you got your inspection done. For example, if you got your car inspected in September 2022, your next inspection would not be due until September 2023. This used to be the case even if a driver mistakenly or purposefully brought their car in a month (or more) late for its inspection. According to the old rules, these drivers would still have a whole year before their next vehicle inspection was due.

However, beginning November 1, 2022, vehicles that pass inspection will receive a sticker with an expiration date that is one year from the month in which their previous sticker expired. The following example might help explain the impact of this change:

Let’s say your car is due for a state inspection in November 2022. However, you goof and don’t get your car in until December. In the past, once your car was tested and if it passed, the inspection center would give you a new sticker that expired the following December, giving you another 365 days before you had to think about this process again. With the new changes, though, you would get a sticker that expires November 2023, a year from the expiration date of your previous sticker. This would shorten the amount of time you have—by a full month—until your car is due for its next inspection.

If you are like most Morse clients and stay on top of your inspection deadlines, this change may not affect you much. However, if you or someone in your household is a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to getting their car inspection done, these new changes are meant to motivate you to curb this bad habit.

There is an additional change to the state vehicle inspection process that will affect all car owners. In the past, the inspection center gave drivers a paper copy of their inspection report, which was promptly stuffed in the glove compartment and forgotten. To cut down on paper waste, the RMV has changed this process. Only car owners whose vehicles fail the inspection will receive a printed report. Otherwise, your inspection report will be accessible online at Mass Vehicle Check or by scanning the QR code displayed on the poster at the inspection site.

Why is the RMV making these changes to the state vehicle inspection process?

Making Massachusetts roads safer and improving air quality are two things that are very important to the Commonwealth and its residents. By making changes to the car inspection process, the RMV is hoping to support these goals.

During the state vehicle inspection, 14 key components of a car are evaluated. If a driver skips an inspection, it may mean they do not get alerted to a broken taillight, a cracked window or mirror, a defective suspension component, or some other defect that makes their car unsafe for the road. A state vehicle inspection also shows if a car has an emissions-related problem. Since transportation-related emissions are a significant contributor to air pollution, the more cars that stick to an annual testing schedule, the more likely we are to help reduce environmental harm.

Are there any changes to the state vehicle inspection process for a new car?

No. As in the past, newly purchased vehicles must be inspected within seven days of the vehicle registration date. If you get a new car inspected, you will receive a sticker that is valid for one year from the month of inspection.

Is there a penalty for getting caught with an expired inspection sticker?

This is another thing that has not changed. There are consequences if you get caught with an expired inspection sticker or driving an uninspected vehicle. Since this is considered a moving violation, you are likely to get a ticket and be fined. This is also a surchargeable offense, which means your car insurance premium may go up at renewal time as a result.

Where can I get my vehicle inspected?

The state of Massachusetts makes it pretty convenient for car owners to fulfill their inspection responsibility. There are 1,800 licensed inspection stations throughout the state where you can get your car tested. In addition, if you have any questions about the new procedures, an inspection station near you may be a good resource.

Morse, of course, is here to answer any additional questions.

As your local insurance professional, our job stretches far beyond providing you with a comprehensive car insurance policy. We feel it is our responsibility to provide you with information and insights related to your vehicle that may help keep you and your passengers safe and your car on the road. We will continue to monitor the state vehicle inspection process. If we hear of any additional changes to these procedures or modifications to any other rules of the road, we will share the information on either our blog or our Facebook or LinkedIn page, so make sure to follow Morse, of course!

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