Unique Vehicles

September 4, 2020

Antique & Classic

  • Vehicles registered as "Antiques" are exempt from annual inspection. To see the restrictions on the use of antiques or to obtain more information on how to register your vehicle as "Antique," visit the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

  • Vehicles registered as "Classic" are required to have an annual safety inspection. These types of vehicles are inspected like any passenger vehicle. Certain items of inspection, however, may or may not be required to be inspected, depending on the age of the car. (For example, seatbelts and anchorages are only required if the vehicle was originally manufactured with them.)

Custom Vehicles & Street Rods

  • A street rod is a vehicle manufactured before 1949 or after 1948 that looks like a vehicle manufactured before 1949.

  • A custom vehicle is a vehicle at least 25 years old and of a model year after 1948 or built to resemble a vehicle at least 25 years old and of a model year after 1948.

  • The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TXDMV) is responsible for issuing certificate of title and creating a safety inspection program for custom vehicles and street rods.

  • To learn more about the program, visit the Assembled Vehicles page.

Imported Vehicles

  • Texas requires that all safety and emissions components for that model year vehicle be installed and operational. Please check with your vehicle manufacturer (Ford, Honda, Nissan, etc.) as to what was legal in the United States for that model year.

  • Vehicle importation is the responsibility of the U.S. Customs Service. The critical point in vehicle importation is whether the vehicle meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Emissions equipment and lighting equipment are common problem areas.

  • NHTSA Vehicle Importation Regulations

  • EPA Guidance for importing vehicles

Kit Cars

  • Vehicles are required to meet the emissions standards for the year the vehicle is assembled. Vehicle manufacturers have to certify that their vehicles meet EPA emissions standards. Many kit car manufacturers comply with this requirement. If you purchase a kit car, follow the instructions on assembly, including the emissions components. The vehicle must pass an emissions test just like any other new vehicle.

  • Just as the EPA does not allow an individual to reverse engineer a vehicle to defeat emission standards, they do not allow an individual to build a brand new "old" vehicle to bypass emissions standards. It is possible if you actually use old parts (like a 1965 engine, or complete 60s frame and power train) that the vehicle will be registered as that model year (replica), but that is determined by Texas DMV. The inspection station will follow the registration classification on the vehicle in determining the inspection criteria.

Miniature Motorcycle (Pocket Bikes)

  • Miniature motorcycles are illegal to operate on public roadways. The miniature motorcycles, also known as pocket bikes and pocket rockets, can only be operated on private property.

  • Pocket bikes do not meet the statutory requirements of a motor assisted scooter as stated in Chapter 551.351 of the Texas Transportation Code. Therefore they cannot be registered as vehicles and they do not meet equipment standards required by federal and Texas law.

Motor Home & RV

  • Motor homes and RVs with a gross weight over 4,500 pounds are required to have annual safety inspections. Motor homes in EMISSIONS counties are also required to have the appropriate emissions test performed.

  • If the motor home is 1996 or newer and OBDII capable, then your motor home will receive an OBDII test. Not all motor homes in this age category come equipped with OBDII compliant plug-in; therefore, if your motor home or RV is not OBDII ready, it will require the appropriate tailpipe emissions test.

  • If the motor home is 1995 or older, it requires the ASM emissions test. The ASM equipment in the Dallas and Houston areas have an 8,500 pound limitation. Therefore, if your motor home exceeds this weight limitation, it will be switched to the TSI testing mode.

  • It is recommended that you make contact with the station prior to arrival to ensure their equipment can accommodate your vehicle.  Vehicles too large for standard inspection bays need not be inspected within the inspection building if the analyzer is housed close enough to the bay opening. The analyzers come with a 20 foot lead; and this will determine whether or not a station can roll their machinery outside the bay to conduct this type of inspection.

Rebuilt/Reconstructed Vehicles

  • All vehicles used on the public highways are required to meet all of the state equipment laws and requirements; therefore, reconstructed or rebuilt vehicles that use the public highways are also expected to meet all of the state equipment laws and regulations.

  • All reconstructed or rebuilt vehicles (sand or dune buggies or hot rods) must comply with inspection requirements for the class of motor vehicle being inspected, such as car, truck, motorcycle, or motor-driven cycle.

  • Be sure to check reconstructed or rebuilt vehicles for all required items of inspection with particular attention to the lighting devices. Head lamps shall be of a type acceptable by the Department. No modifications are allowed that will change the original design or performance of any lamp. Only acceptable automobile head lamps may be used on cars and trucks. Either the 7-inch head lamps or both dual head lamps (type 1 and type 2) may be used. Only acceptable motorcycle head lamps may be used on motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and mopeds.

  • All lighting devices must be of an acceptable type that meet Department standards and must comply with the mounting heights as specified in the inspection requirements.

  • The model year of a reconstructed vehicle will be the same year in which it was reconstructed and not the year of original manufacture. Therefore, the inspection requirements would be for the model year of the vehicle (same as the year of reconstruction) or the year model of the engine itself, whichever is the later model.

  • In general, the model year of a motorcycle is the year of the frame if the original date of manufacture was 1971 or later.  Contact Texas DMV for detailed information regarding title of rebuilt and reconstructed vehicles.

  • Motor vehicles used for competitive racing, such as modified stock cars, dragsters, and hot rods may be inspected. When such a vehicle is presented for inspection, all rules and regulations regarding the inspection of the vehicle will apply. This applies to brake requirements, exhaust systems, as well as any other item required in these provisions.