Get Your Kit Car Checked Out: Custom-Built Car Safety Inspections

By: Staff Writer July 31, 2012
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Your custom-built car is finished and ready to roam, but before you can take your kit car on the road, you need to register it with your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and obtain license plates.

Easy enough, except unlike regular car registration, a kit car first requires passing some or all of the following inspections:

  • Safety
  • Emissions
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Have Your Kit Car Inspected

Bear in mind that each state has different inspection policies. But, in most instances, depending on your state, the safety or VIN inspection will either be handled by a specific DMV agent, or by a designated law enforcement agency.

Contact your DMV for a list of inspection stations.

Most safety and VIN inspections require an appointment. When you make the appointment, be sure to ask the telephone agent what documents you need to bring to the inspection. In most instances, you'll be required to bring sales receipts and/or bill of sales for each component part used in the vehicle. Authorities use the receipts to confirm none of the parts were taken from stolen vehicles. This in turn to keeps illegal car fencing operations in check.

Take this requirement seriously. Any part without a corresponding sales receipt will require detailed explanation. An inspection agent can fail you for missing sales receipts.

Your vehicle will also be inspected for a VIN. If you don't have a VIN, the inspection agent will assign you one.

The inspecting agent will also check the vehicle for safety, making sure all component parts and modifications meet the state's vehicle code requirements. Just because you built the car from scratch, does not mean you can design based on creative whim. Every part, down to the vehicle's headlights, must conform to state safety standards.

Register Your Custom-Built Vehicle

After you pass the inspection, you're now cleared to pursue vehicle registration. In most cases, you'll need to present proof of passing the safety inspection.

If you live in a smog check area, the vehicle will also need to pass an emissions inspection before a custom-built vehicle registration certificate can be issued.

Do you have any experience with custom-built vehicles? Share with everyone in the comments below!

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