Car Safety Inspection: Everything You Need to Know

Find out if you’re overpaying on car insurance using our cost calculator! Save money by comparing quotes from over 30 of Canada’s top insurance providers!

The best part? It’s FREE!

car safety inspection

When you’re on the hunt for a new car, it’s not too difficult to find one that meets your needs. You might even have some idea of what you want and where to go look for it. But when it comes time to purchase a vehicle, there are some things that every potential buyer – no matter how savvy they may be – should take into consideration before signing on the dotted line. When you purchase a car, it is important to make sure that the vehicle has passed a safety inspection.

Unfortunately, not all used cars for sale come with a safety standard certificate. If you’re looking at buying one that doesn’t and are unsure about how to proceed, here’s what you need to know.

The vehicle must meet the following safety standards to be passed:

Brakes that are in good condition

Your brakes will need to be replaced at some point and are an essential part of maintaining your vehicle. Ontario guidelines state that if your brake-shoe lining is 1.6 millimetres or less, then you’ll have to get them replaced so your car can pass a safety inspection.

Tires with a good tread depth

Watch your tires to ensure they have the appropriate depth. This is important for a good grip while driving, especially in wet conditions or if you’ve switched between winter and summer tires. If there is no tread, you’re not able to grip the road. Whether your tires came with your new used car or are from a previous vehicle, they need to be inspected before registering your vehicle.

According to Ontario’s inspection guidelines, any tire with a tread depth of 2 mm or less requires replacing.

All lights work properly

In Ontario, lights are tested for both function and visibility. Anything that doesn’t meet the safety standards will need to be fixed before your car can pass inspection. You’ll need to have working headlights, brake lights, and turn signals.

Good suspension

The suspension must not be too low to the ground, and it should also be in good condition. If your vehicle’s suspension ball joints or springs are past their prime, or if the height difference of your alignment is 25 mm greater, these issues must be fixed before you can undergo a safety inspection.

Most vehicle inspections will look at more than just your brakes, tires, lights, and suspension. Here are some other things the inspection technician may look at:

Car safety inspection checklist

  • Accelerator linkage
  • Bodywork
  • Brakes
  • Frame components
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Horn
  • Hoses and belts
  • Lamps and Reflectors
  • Mirrors
  • Natural starting switch
  • Seats and seatbelts
  • Speedometer
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • Wheel mounts and rims
  • Windshield Wipers

Why do you need a car safety inspection?

A car safety inspection takes place when a vehicle is brought into the dealership for sale. The technician will examine the vehicle’s brakes, lights, tires, steering, and other important features. Vehicles that have passed their safety inspection are given a certificate with the date of inspection on it. In Canada, it is required by law to have a safety inspection certificate in order for the vehicle to be registered. There are many reasons why auto inspection is mandatory, and even more reasons as to why you should make them a part of your vehicle maintenance routine.

A car's safety inspection is required for vehicle registration

A car’s safety inspection is required for registration in Canada. Once you purchase a new or used vehicle, you’ll need to get a safety inspection before you register the vehicle in your name. If you purchased the car privately, you’ll have to find a mechanic to do the inspection for you. When you purchase a car from a dealership they handle the safety inspection. The technician will examine the vehicle’s brakes, lights, tires, steering, and other important features. Vehicles that have passed their safety inspection receive a certificate with the date of inspection on it.

In Canada, each province’s motor vehicle bureau (M.V.B) enforce car safety standard and regulations for their provinces. However, each province has its own set of required safety standards. For example, some residents of PEI still need annual safety inspections, while the other provinces have this requirement every two years. There are also some differences in standards for the type of inspection required, the safety equipment that is inspected, and how often inspections are required.

The safety inspection can help you identify any potential problems with your vehicle

Inspections can help you identify any potential problems with your vehicle before they become an issue. Every vehicle must meet a series of safety standards before it can be passed for use on the road. When vehicles are inspected, technicians will inspect the brakes, tires, and lights to make sure they meet regulatory requirements. If any of these components are not working properly, it’s important that you know about them before they lead to serious issues.

Inspection requirements vary from province to province and car owners should make sure they’re aware of the safety inspection standards in their area.

It’s important to note, though, that inspections don’t replace regular maintenance – they’re just a snapshot of the vehicle’s condition at a particular point in time. So if your tires are worn down or you have brake issues, it won’t show up on an inspection unless the technician is specifically looking for those things.

How much is a car safety inspection in Ontario?

The cost of a safety inspection and the certificate varies from province to province. This is not regulated by the government, so prices can vary from one Motor Vehicle Inspection Station to another. Typically, a safety costs anywhere from $60 – $90, plus any repairs that are needed.


In order for your vehicle to pass a safety in Ontario, you vehicle will need to meet the following conditions:

  • Brakes that are in good condition;
  • Good tires that are safely inflated and have no visible leaks; and one extra tire with air pressure gauge attached.
  • Must have two working headlights for cars and four for trucks and buses;
  • Brake lights, turn signals, headlights must work properly;
  • No broken glass or any other large pieces of sharp metal that could fall off the vehicle while driving;
  • Transmission, suspension, and other systems are running without issue.

Vehicle inspections in Alberta cost between $44 and $185.

Vehicle inspections in BC cost about $45 to $134, tax included.

A vehicle fails a safety inspection for the following reasons:

  • Bald tires;
  • Broken or missing lights, turn signals, and brake lights;
  • Leaks from any of the fluid reservoirs (brake, power steering);
  • No seatbelts in the backseat;
  • Unsafe tires, brakes, or suspension systems.

A car safety inspection can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Some car safety inspections are done in a more detailed manner, depending on the vehicle, technician’s preferences, and provincial regulations.

In Ontario, a safety standard certificate is good for 36 days after the inspection. If the safety standard certificate expires before you’ve registered your vehicle you’ll need to pay for a new vehicle inspection and certificate.

Yes, you need a safety standards certificate to register your vehicle in Ontario.

When you get your vehicle inspected, the inspection station will give you a safety standards certificate.

It is good for 36 days after an inspection or until you register your car in Ontario. If it expires before registration, then the full cost of a new vehicle inspection and safety standards certificate are required.

No, the inspection station will provide a safety certificate when you get your vehicle inspected, but the seller is not obligated to give you one.

Ontario Vehicle Inspection Standard divides windshield cracks into two categories: reject and pass.


  • Cracks that extend more than 50 mm into the windshield wiper area;
  • Star-shaped chips with a diameter greater than 13 mm on the windshield.


  • Cracks that extend less than 50 mm into the windshield wiper area;
  • Star-shape chips with a diameter of less than 13 mm on the windshield;
  • Cracks that are longer than 50 mm outside the windshield wiper area;
  • Star-shape chips with a diameter of more than 13mm outside the windshield wiper area.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Related Articles