How Long Does a Vehicle Inspection Take? 

Alissa Machin |

The duration of a vehicle inspection can vary significantly, depending on several factors. This article explains what vehicle inspection is, and why it is important for both safety and financial reasons. By exploring factors that can affect how long an inspection can take, this article assesses how preparation, type of inspection, vehicle condition, and human influence are all part of the overall picture. Finally, this article considers how AI can contribute to speeding up the vehicle inspection process.

What is a Car Inspection?

A car inspection or vehicle inspection is a technical health check that examines the current state of the car’s systems. The type of inspection will influence how detailed the examination is and therefore how long it will take.

Periodic Technical Inspection: PTI or MOT

A periodic inspection, mandatory by law in most countries, is meant to ensure the vehicle is fit for the road. Periodic inspections typically include examining the engine, brakes, suspension, lights, tyres, and emissions. The focus is on the safety of the vehicle.

Other Types of Vehicle Inspection

Private companies and citizens decide to inspect their cars in other situations, especially when involved in a car accident, selling or buying a used car, or returning a shared vehicle. It’s also relevant for business fleets, like taxi services, to keep an eye on the state of their assets. The inspection of an off-lease or returned rental car, for example, will include more details than a PTI, such as missing or damaged parts, poor repair work, scratched and dirty areas, leaking fluids, and any new damage noted since the last inspection.

Why is it Important to Inspect the Car?

Prioritising safety requirements to ensure that a vehicle’s functioning is optimal not only protects passengers; it also checks emissions to lower carbon footprint and minimise environmental impact.

Money and liability are also an important justification for automotive inspections. On one hand, keeping the vehicle at peak performance will avoid unnecessary expensive repairs due to improper maintenance. On the other hand, keeping an accurate score of damages will ensure that the right party pays for repair costs, particularly in the case of shared cars, rentals, and leasing.

How Long Does a Car Inspection Take?

Several factors can influence vehicle inspection time:


Scheduling an appointment for the inspection can require advance planning. Furthermore, preparing the necessary documents, typically driving license, car documentation, and insurance papers beforehand will prevent unnecessary delays and the need to reschedule the appointment. The location of the inspection company is also an important factor to consider when scheduling a vehicle inspection appointment.

Type of Inspection

 A basic periodic inspection, where an inspection company certifies the vehicle’s safety and reliability, typically takes between twenty and forty minutes, including emissions tests. This can vary slightly with local laws and industry standards. In the case of an off-lease inspection, where a leased car undergoes a thorough check-up before handover to the leasing company, the process is more thorough and can take one to three hours, including a road test.

Condition of the Vehicle

The older the car and the poorer the maintenance, the longer the inspection. A car with visible signs of wear and tear demands a more detailed examination to determine its health and safety. Similarly, a poorly maintained vehicle will likely have more problems than a well-maintained one, extending the time for both inspecting the car and documenting the procedure.

The Human Factor

An experienced, knowledgeable, and efficient inspector will finish the examination and handle the paperwork faster than an inexperienced or disorganised person. Moreover, the effective coordination of staff at the inspection unit reduces waiting times before the approval of the inspection.

How can AI Speed Up Automotive Inspections?

Applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools can considerably reduce vehicle inspection time. A first step towards using AI in vehicle inspections is the digitisation of the overall process: rather than using pen and paper to note down their observations, inspectors can use a smartphone or tablet to keep digital records, which are quick to file, access, share, and edit.

By adding AI technology to the equation, vehicle inspections can incorporate well-tested models such as pattern recognition to conduct an objective and accurate visual examination of the vehicle and keep track of the condition of the car in between inspections. AI technology therefore enables a faster and simplified process for visual vehicle inspections that also allows for remote inspections. 

Focalx’s AI-powered vehicle inspection technology locates and categorises any damage and creates a report in seconds. From a simple app compatible with tablets, smartphones, and computers, the user can follow a customised guide to scan the whole car with the camera on their device. The overall process lasts a few minutes, reducing the inspection time between 67% and 83% compared to traditional pen-and-paper systems.


Traditional vehicle inspections can take from half an hour in the simplest cases to over two hours when they are very thorough and utilise paper-based record systems. AI-powered digital car inspection shortens this process to a few minutes and makes it as simple as pointing the smartphone camera at the car. The focalx solution allows for accurate, reliable, and standardised damage detection within a vehicle tracking system, reducing the inspection time by at least 63% and up to 83%.