Vehicle Inspection

Relating to vehicle safety inspection.

Vehicle Readiness

OBD II technology monitors all components of the engine management system and can detect a malfunction or deterioration of these components usually well before the driver becomes aware of any problem. Vehicles equipped with OBD II self-test their emission systems while the vehicle is being driven. Vehicles perform up to 11 system tests, depending on year, make and model of the vehicle. Readiness status identifies whether the vehicle's computer has completed the required tests since the last time the vehicle was serviced with a scan tool or had its battery disconnected.

Emissions Warranty

Vermont law requires that a vehicle’s entire emissions control system be warranted for a minimum of 3 years or 50,000 miles. Warranty coverage for the more expensive emissions control components is extended to at least 7 years or 70,000 miles, and the engine computer and catalytic converter are covered for 8 years or 80,000 miles. Some vehicles’ emissions control systems are warranted up to 15 years or 150,000 miles! Knowing about your vehicle’s warranty could save you significant money, and can also help protect Vermont’s air quality!

What are the possible reasons for failing the OBD check?

  1. The vehicle’s OBD system connector has been removed or is otherwise not working properly. The OBD check cannot be completed if the connector is missing or is not working properly. 
  2. The Malfunction Indicator Light does not illuminate at all when the ignition key is turned to the “on” position. When the vehicle’s OBD system detects a problem, it turns on the warning light to alert the driver to a problem. However, if the light cannot illuminate because the bulb has burned out or is otherwise not working, the driver would not be alerted to the problem. 

What if my vehicle failed the OBD check?

If your vehicle failed, it must be repaired in order to receive a new inspection sticker. Your vehicle should be repaired by a qualified, trained automotive service technician equipped with the appropriate diagnostic and repair tools. Depending on your vehicle’s age and mileage, repairs may be covered by the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for specific information on warranty coverage.

Why is the OBD check needed?

Motor vehicles are the largest source of toxic and ozone-forming air pollutants in Vermont. While modern vehicles are getting much cleaner due to newer engine management technology and emission control components, emissions stay low only when all these systems are working properly. OBD technology helps to ensure that vehicles are operating as designed, and the OBD check ensures that the vehicle’s OBD system is doing its job. 

What is OBD and how does it work?

OBD technology was developed in the 1980s by vehicle manufacturers to help technicians diagnose and service the computerized engine management systems of modern vehicles. A new generation of OBD (often referred to as OBD II) is present on 1996 and newer vehicles. OBD II monitors all components of the engine management system and can detect a malfunction or deterioration of these components usually well before the driver becomes aware of any problem.

What equipment is needed to inspect OBD Systems?

A scan tool with generic OBD II capability is necessary to perform the required check. A scan tool is a very useful device which is commonly used to assist in the diagnosis and repair of a variety of vehicle problems. Many inspection stations already own scan tools which can also be used to perform the required OBD check, but those inspection stations which do not will need to have one in order to inspect 1996 and newer vehicles. At a minimum, scan tools must be capable of :

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Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles
120 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05603-0001

Monday-Friday: 7:45am-4:30pm
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