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Special plated trucks - frequently asked questions

Motor trucks registered by farmers as “special trucks” have been exempt from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's annual inspection requirement. Effective July 1, 2005, farmers that have “special trucks” will have to have them inspected in accordance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations found in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 396.17.

  • What trucks have to be inspected?

    Any truck that is used in commerce and that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 lbs. must be inspected. "In commerce" means the truck is used in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise, which includes farming operations.

    Trucks used in a commerce that have a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less are not required to be inspected, unless they are used in combination with a trailer. If they are used in combination with a trailer, you have to consider the combined GVWR for the truck and trailer and whether the combined vehicle will be used only in Iowa or in Iowa and other states:

    Used in Iowa only: If the combined vehicle is used only in Iowa (only in intrastate commerce), and the combined GVWR of the truck and trailer is 26,000 lbs. or less, the truck is exempt from the annual inspection requirements. This exception would include most pick-up trucks and trailers operating only in Iowa. Please check the GVWR of the truck and trailer to be sure.

    If the combined GVWR of the truck and trailer is more than 26,000 pounds, the truck must be inspected annually, even though it is only used in Iowa and the GVWR of the truck alone is 10,000 pounds or less.

    Used in other states: If the combined vehicle is used in other states (used In interstate commerce), the truck must be inspected annually if the combined GVWR of the truck and trailer is more than 10,000 pounds, even though the GVWR of the truck alone is 10,000 pounds or less.

  • Why the change?

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes tolerance guidelines for commercial vehicle operations in states. Allowing “special trucks” to be exempt from the annual inspection was outside the tolerance guidelines and would have cut future federal funding to the State of Iowa.

  • How often must I inspect my truck?

    Once a truck is inspected, the inspection is valid for 12 months from the date of the inspection.

  • Where can I get my truck inspected?

    Most truck dealers and many major truck stops may be contacted.

  • Is there a charge for the inspection?

    The rule requiring the inspection does not establish a fee nor does it prohibit a fee. You should check with your inspection facility prior to having the vehicle inspected.

  • Can I do my own inspections?

    There is nothing to prohibit you or your employee from conducting the inspection as long as you or your employee meets the qualifications.
    If you would like more information on inspector qualifications and a sample copy of an inspection certificate, click here.

  • What safety equipment must be inspected?

    The inspection must be performed according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations found in Chapter 3, Subchapter B, Appendix G Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations.
    For a printable copy of that information please, click here.  

  • Does anything need to be carried in the truck to prove the vehicle has been inspected?

    The driver must have a copy of the actual inspection carried in the vehicle or a decal with similar information attached to the vehicle. 

  • What happens if I am stopped and my truck is not inspected?

    Iowa DOT enforcement officers will issue warnings until Sept. 30, 2005.  On Oct. 1, 2005, citations will be issued. The fine for no valid inspection is currently $25 plus court costs and surcharge.

  • Who can I contact for further information regarding annual inspections?

    For further information you may contact the Iowa DOT’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement Information Line at 800-925-6469 or you may contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at 515-233-7400.