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Denny Grace 01-02-2006 01:19 PM

Pennsylvania inspection law hassles?
Forgive me if this topic is listed already, I could not find anything in the beginner's section or knowledge base. I am from PA and before I even think about spending time or money, I am wondering what kind of hassles to expect when trying to get a vehicle inspected for street use? Appreciate any help in getting more information.

poncho62 01-02-2006 01:42 PM

How do you mean?

Old car without registration (title), ex race car, ...................???

All street cars must pass certain tests.

Denny Grace 01-02-2006 01:49 PM

Thanks for the response. I am an avid sprint car fan and have seen a sprint car converted to street use (but the car/inspection was from another state), so that would be my interest. The reason I chose this site is because I see hot rods that are street legal and have no fenders, for example, which is part of the problem when converting a sprint car. There would be no title, and then the problem with no lights, etc. The car I saw had all of these, but no roof, fenders, bumpers, etc. The full roll cage was intact, as was the 5 point harness, etc. I'm just wondering what kind of nightmare it would be to try to get something like this street legal in PA?

poncho62 01-02-2006 02:06 PM

I would think, a big headache....It all depends on the laws regarding this sort of thing in your state......fenders, lights etc....That is the stuff you have to find out first.....Contact your Department of Trnasportation

vicrod 01-02-2006 02:08 PM

PA registration is a rough road.

I went through it 2 years ago and there have been some changes in the law since then. At first I thought that if I pay all the sales tax (for the parts purchased out-of-State) how hard could it be? It's hard but it was worth it.

You really need to be prepared for some very challenging problems during the build. PA registration, compared to some things, was not in the top ten.

PA has a specific category detailed in The Pennsylvania Code subchapter K. Street rods, specially constructed and reconstructed vehicles.

This Street Rod registration permits many things you cannot do otherwise, such as a chopped (7") windshield, no bumpers and no fenders.

Try to find a Notary that handles Street Rod registration. The Notary (Ann Marie Mint) in Coopersburg is geart. And an inspection station that handles Street Rods. Wes Jackson is Royersford is the best. Your local State Police barracks can give you a list of inspection stations that do Street Rods. These people know what it takes and keep up with any changes.

SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS no matter what State you purchased the item. You will need to prove that you paid PA tax for everything. Any unpaid tax will be due at the time you apply for registration.

What are you planning to build?



Denny Grace 01-02-2006 02:19 PM

I appreciate the help that everyone has rendered. I stated in an earlier post that I am an avid sprint car fan and would like to convert one to street use. I have seen one in action (but it is from another state) so I wanted to know what to expect in PA. The advice to seek a notary, inspection station and police familiar with these vehicles is super - thanks! I have contacted state police, in general terms, but they really wanted to see plans, etc. At this stage I am simply trying to decide if the hassle is worth it!

curtis73 01-02-2006 04:07 PM

Make absolutely sure all of your suspension and chassis parts are not race pieces. If they are, make sure you have a sticker on them... doesn't matter which one, just pick one. I had Afco upper arms on a 66 Bonneville that I tried to register in PA. No way would it pass. I called Hotchkis, ordered a catalog for free (which came with stickers), installed the stickers on the control arms and they passed with flying colors. The inspector was heard exclaiming, "I didn't know Hotchkis made B-body suspension stuff..." It has to be either a stock piece or a performance aftermarket piece designed for that vehicle.

Eliminate every single spherical heim joint. They won't pass. All ball joints, tie rod ends, etc must be a tapered seat like a factory application.

You'll always find shops that will let anything pass, but if you want to be able to inspect it at your choice of places, make sure you have strong ties to a factory setup. It can be a chevy that is hopped up beyond all recognition, but they don't want to see it go the other way around. They don't want to see a race car brought down to street duty.

If you'll always be around the same place every year, you might have a friend of a friend who will let it sneak by. There are some places that understand that the spirit of the law is to keep road cars safe and if they see that yours is safe, they'll put a sticker on it. Others won't put their sticker on it if it has a stone chip in the windshield. But if a shop sees big frame rails and no bumper and you end up killing a pedestrian, it comes back to them and they lose their business, their license, and are liable for some of the damages.

I might suggest buying a $100 Cutlass at a junkyard, combining the parts (as per the law which I think states 30%) into one car and legally using the title, VIN, and designation of the Cutlass to get an "R" title. Then you have a legally altered street vehicle provided it passes inspection. I'm planning on that with an old IH scout on a Ford Bronco chassis. The IH doesn't have a title, but the Bronco does. Under certain parameters its legal to title the vehicle to the VIN of the vehicle that donated X% of the parts. The interpretation of that law is up to you, the inspection station, and the DOT.

Expect to have trouble even after you've followed the law. Inspection stations don't read the Vehicle code, they follow a checklist. Chances are they'll tell you that things can't be done even if you have the vehicle code book right in front of you. They get a little squirrely when they see something odd :)

Good luck!

Denny Grace 01-02-2006 04:49 PM

Thanks curtis73
Good info and advice. I can buy a version of a sprint car that races here in PA (they are called super sportsman) and basically just add lights, etc. The cars already have a clutch, starter & battery, etc., so in some ways this project would be 'cheating'! You make an interesting point about suspension pieces - that would be a problem. Thanks for the insights!

patentguy 10-12-2010 02:57 PM

DIY frame with donor mechanicals - PA streetlegal?
I am in the planning stages of building a V8 powered shopping cart as a promotional and parade vehicle for a local grocery store chain. Similar to the one shown in this link:

I will be using the driveline (engine, trans, shaft and rear axle, front suspension, brakes, etc) from a V8 sedan or truck (depends on what I can find). One thing we are considering is how much additional work we have to go through to make this beast actually street legal. I am reviewing the rules and paperwork for PA titling and inspection. My understanding so far is even if I use the vin from the donor vehicle, if i use the open frame style of the NC cart shown above there is no way I can get it past the safety inspection. I can add lights, a windscreen, wipers, signals, etc. Does anyone have experience with a scratch-built vehicle that successfully titled and registered it in PA. We can use the vehicle strictly for parade use, but that will really limit the fun we can have with it. Thanks.

moontanker 10-12-2010 03:12 PM

ala cart
Long ago I was an inspection mechanic in Pa.I left after the law kept pulling me over for bucket seats in my 57 chevy Duals and an assortment of other Bs.I really think you are wasting your time and money but we had builders titles then% times out of 97 it took forever.Me,now I would check Marylands laws.They seemed to be alot more easy on the rodders than Pa.Sorry I couldn' t give you more specifics as I am sure this is what you are needing.I had a model a coupe chopped and channeled and I had a builders title. :cool: :cool:

lakeroadster 10-12-2010 05:42 PM


Originally Posted by patentguy
Does anyone have experience with a scratch-built vehicle that successfully titled and registered it in PA. Thanks.

This may seem like a silly comparison but if there are homemade VW sandrails running on the streets of PA I gotta believe you can get your creation titled too.

You might search for a place in PA that build such (sandrails) and see what they are doing to get their creations titled.

Sounds like a fun project, good luck and keep us in the loop.

patentguy 10-13-2010 05:02 AM

PA Title
@Moontanker and @Lakeroadster,
Thanks for the advice. I like the sandrail idea. I will check around and find some builders and inspection stations for their advice/opinions. I think we will collect the parts to make the cart street legal and decide on the parade-only vs street legal after I find some precedents for such a vehicle being titled in PA (sandrail-type). I will keep the forum posted.

kukamojo 10-13-2010 07:20 AM

This will probably be of some help.

also, an addendum that for some reason is not included. This, however, only applies to "Street Rods", which PA defines as vehicles manufactured 1948 or earlier (or repro's of said vehicles).

And finally, if you want to know where the PA inspection mechanic is supposed to get his training info, here it is:

Specially constructed vehicle fact sheet:

Specially constructed would cover your scenario as well as dune buggies. Specially constructed vehicles are inspected asthe type of vehicle they are.
Meaning your car would have to pass all of the passenger car inspection criteria.
It does not qualify as a street rod or reconstructed vehicle.
Obviously, rules get bent from time to time, but I am thinking you are going to have a very hard time, if not impossible, doing what you are trying to do in PA.

patentguy 10-21-2010 12:15 PM

Not looking good in PA
@Kukamojo, thanks for the links, very helpful.

After reading through the guides published by the PA DMV, it looks my hot rod shopping cart would be considered a "Specially Constructed Vehicle". I called several Enhanced Inspection Stations, the first said "there is just no way to make it legal", the second was much more helpful and gave me a few tips on what I could and could not do.

The first problem I faced was that the exceptions that are made for hot rods do not apply to Specially Constructed Vehicles, so my cart must pass the same inspection as a current passenger vehicle. Meaning that my cart has to have fenders. Not a big deal, I can put some fenders on it that will not wreck the look I am going for. I commented that I had seen street legal sand rails with no fenders and he said that, technically, a sand rail or dune buggy would need fenders.

The real kicker for me is the requirement that the "Hood completely cover the engine". I can put a floor on the bottom of the basket portion of my cart (that will "cover" the engine), but does the "completely cover" mean the sides cannot be exposed? Again, sand rails do not have enclosed engine compartments. Any ideas or experience out there? (I need to find a sand rail forum and cross-post)


patentguy 11-08-2010 02:55 PM

Update on PA title and inspection
I did some online research and found a helpful "enhanced inspection station" in West Chester PA (Chris Radhill Auto - very knowledgeable). It appears that as long as the cooling fan is covered with something to safeguard fingers, you can have the engine exposed. So fenders, windshield and other bits will be added to get me street legal. An 06 Crown Victoria front suspension and a drivetrain from a 77 Dodge Sportsman Van are now being combined with 120 feet of 2" tube. We will see how hard it actually is to title this. I will keep the forum posted.

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