Virginia's Antique Car Inspection: A Guide for Classic Car Enthusiasts

In Virginia, antique vehicles with a model year of 1948 or older are exempt from annual safety inspections, but certain conditions apply. Ensure your classic car meets the requirements to avoid penalties.
Virginia's Antique Car Inspection: A Guide for Classic Car Enthusiasts

Antique Car Inspection Requirements in Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide for Preservationists

In the state of Virginia, antique vehicles hold a special place in preserving the rich heritage of automotive history. As a proud owner of an antique car, it is crucial to understand the specific inspection requirements set forth by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure its safe operation and maintain its historical integrity.

Defining Antique Vehicles in Virginia

According to the Virginia DMV, an antique vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle that is at least 25 years old and is of special interest to collectors, preservationists, and automotive enthusiasts. It must be maintained in its original condition, preserving its historical significance and aesthetic appeal.

Inspection Frequency and Exemptions

Unlike regular vehicles, antique cars in Virginia are not subject to annual safety inspections. However, there are certain scenarios where an inspection may be required:

1. Initial Registration: Upon initially registering an antique vehicle in Virginia, it must undergo a one-time safety inspection to ensure its overall condition meets the state's safety standards.

2. Change of Ownership: If there is a change in ownership of an antique vehicle, a new safety inspection is necessary to verify its continued roadworthiness.

3. Collision or Major Repairs: In the event of a collision or extensive repairs that affect the vehicle's structural integrity or safety systems, an inspection is mandated to assess its safety and compliance with Virginia regulations.

Inspection Procedures and Standards

The safety inspection for antique vehicles in Virginia focuses on evaluating critical components that directly impact the vehicle's safe operation. These include:

1. Brakes: The inspector will assess the condition of the brake system, ensuring its effectiveness and compliance with safety standards.

2. Steering and Suspension: The steering and suspension systems are thoroughly inspected to verify proper functionality and handling characteristics.

3. Lights and Signals: All lighting components, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals, are checked for proper operation and compliance with Virginia's lighting regulations.

4. Tires: Tire condition, tread depth, and overall safety are evaluated to ensure they meet the minimum safety requirements.

5. Exhaust System: The exhaust system is inspected for leaks, proper operation, and compliance with emission regulations.

Preservation and Modification Considerations

When it comes to antique cars, preserving their historical significance is of utmost importance. Therefore, modifications that alter the vehicle's original design or compromise its safety are strictly prohibited. Any alterations must be in line with preserving the historical integrity of the vehicle.

Inspection Locations and Fees

Antique vehicle inspections can be conducted at authorized Virginia State Police inspection stations or licensed inspection facilities. The inspection fee varies depending on the location and the type of inspection required.


Antique cars in Virginia are cherished symbols of automotive history, and their preservation is a testament to the state's commitment to heritage and cultural significance. By adhering to the inspection requirements, antique car owners can ensure the safe and legal operation of their vehicles while preserving their historical value for generations to come.