DMV OBDII inspection

State vehicle inspections to use more onboard diagnostics

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines


DMV OBDII inspection

An onboard diagnostic computer will plug directly into a vehicle’s diagnostic system to check for emissions problems. Photo by the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles.

Starting Aug. 14, Delaware vehicle inspection rules change to require the use of onboard diagnostics more often.

The state will continue to require a curb idle and gas cap test in models from 1995 and before.

The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles says the revised inspection and maintenance regulations are designed to help reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The state has more than 1 million registered vehicles, with 323,576 in Sussex County alone.

Vehicle emissions have been a topic of concern in recent months as the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Economic Controls creates regulations that will increase the number of electric vehicles being sold in the state until 2035, when gasoline-powered vehicles will be outlawed. Many groups oppose the regulations.

RELATED: Car dealers: So far, electric vehicles not popular in Delaware

The onboard diagnostic testing, referred to by the state as OBD-II testing, uses a handheld computer reader that will be familiar to people with cars made since 1996.

A technician will use the reader to plug in the vehicle’s electronic system, often via a port easily accessible under the dashboard near the steering wheel, to check for such things as whether the malfunction indicator light is working, specific diagnostic trouble codes, emission-related malfunctions and more.

Vehicle inspections will continue to be done at DMV locations in Delaware City, Wilmington, Georgetown and Dover.

Residents of Sussex County  — Delaware’s largest county — were warned in a DMV press release to give themselves extra time for registration renewal, particularly if they believe their vehicle will need repair under the new regulations.

Delaware vehicle emissions inspection

This chart shows changes in the way the state will inspect vehicles starting Aug. 14.

Unlike other states, which require vehicles to pay to be inspected at non-state facilities and have any necessary repairs done before going to get a new tag, Delaware inspections are done at state DMVS.

A DMV spokeswoman said there are no plans to change that system.

New vehicles sold by Delaware dealers do not require inspections, and the newest seven model years of vehicles, weighing 10,000 pounds or less and being titled for the first time in Delaware, may only be required to have a vehicle identification number  verification.

Residents may have their vehicles inspected up to 90 days before the registration expiration date. An early inspection will not change the normal expiration date.  Owners are required to provide DMV with valid proof of Delaware liability insurance and a Vehicle Inspection Report for their vehicle to renew their registration.

Inspection suggestions

A curb idle test means the exhaust emissions are checked while the vehicle is running, but without the accelerator being pushed.

A gas cap test uses a device to make sure the vehicle’s gas cap is sealing.

When going for an inspection, the DMV recommends:

  • Make sure your engine is thoroughly warmed up before you arrive so it is operating at peak efficiency.
  • Turn off all accessories (air conditioning, heater, radio, etc.) before entering the inspection facility.
  • Fast idle your engine for 30 seconds just prior to entering the inspection facility.
  • Make sure that all front seat occupants have their safety belts fastened. All children must be secured in a child restraint seat or safety belt.
  • Know the location of your vehicle’s hood release lever.
  • Provide the key for fuel caps that lock.
  • Check your turn signals, lights, horn and windshield wipers before you go and have obvious defects repaired before inspection.
  • Pay careful attention to the maintenance of your brakes and tires. For safety reasons inspectors have very strict standards for passage of these two items.



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