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Texas drivers will be able to skip safety inspections, but many will still need emissions checks

The blur of headlights from cars driving near the state Capitol at dusk
Miguel Gutierrez Jr
Beginning in 2025, motorists will no longer be required to get vehicle safety tests. Emissions tests will still be mandated in certain counties, though.

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Drivers in Travis and Williamson counties will still need to bring their cars in for an annual emissions test despite a law passed by the Texas Legislature last session.

The new law eliminates mandatory vehicle inspections on most cars starting Jan. 1, 2025. Lawmakers behind the bill said safety inspections were inconvenient and costly.

Currently, a safety inspection costs $7.50. Starting in 2025, that fee will go toward the state mobility fund.

True, Texas car owners will not need their cars to pass a safety inspection to renew their vehicle registration. But, cars will still need to undergo emissions testing in certain counties.

Travis and Williamson mandate emissions testing to reduce pollution. A certified mechanic needs to inspect the exhaust systems of most gas-powered vehicles that are between two and 24 years old. Unless you drive an electric vehicle or have a diesel engine, you will still need to go to a shop after 2025 if you live in these counties. Vehicles here that do not meet emissions standards cannot be registered.

Meanwhile, residents of Hays County, where emissions tests have never been required, can forego inspections altogether.

Stephen Luetan, a service manager at Dave’s Automotive in Williamson County, said even though a safety inspection won’t be required, he still thinks it’s a good idea to get one.

“I definitely think that state inspections keep vehicles safer here on the road,” he said. “Part of the safety inspections here is checking your brakes, checking your tires, lights and wiper blades. All those things that are necessary to make sure that we have safe roads here in Texas.”

The Texas Department of Transportation reported over 634,000 crashes in Texas last year. Defective or no vehicle brakes were a contributing factor in 3,039 crashes. Defective or slick tires contributed to another 3,966.

Luetan said he doesn’t understand why lawmakers would discontinue the safety portion of inspections if cars need to go into a shop anyway for emissions tests in the state’s more populated counties.

Luetan, who holds a license to inspect vehicles, also said the new policies will hurt one-stop sticker shops because fewer people will get inspections when they become optional.

The fees to register a car, renew a registration and get an emissions inspection will remain the same.

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