Do pop-up campers need to be inspected in PA?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Do pop-up campers need to be inspected in PA? We will discuss the key checks that are made at a camper inspection in PA and help you prepare for your next one. 

Do pop-up campers need to be inspected in PA?

In PA, a pop-up camper that has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) under 3000 lbs, does not need to be inspected. Only if your pop-up camper has both brakes and a GVWR over 3000 lbs, you are legally required to have a yearly inspection. 

The pop-up camper inspection should be done at any official PA state inspection station and costs $39. 

  • Technical inspection of light pop-up campers: As mentioned, light pop-up campers are not required to pass the technical inspection itself, since according to the DMV they are not vehicles, but they do need to be present when the car to which they are attached is presented to pass the inspection.

They are subject to the same deadlines and routines as the vehicle that drives them, generally a passenger car or some small vehicle. You must also provide all the necessary documentation on this camper and on the tow ball – we’ll talk about it later.

  • Technical inspection of heavy pop-up campers: Something more complex will be the technical inspection of a heavy pop-up camper, although you do not have to worry. 

As we have said, the technical inspection considers them a vehicle in itself, independent of the one that propels them, so it will have to pass its own inspection, complying with the established deadlines and regardless of when the vehicle to which they are attached passes it. That is why it is important to know when to pass the technical inspection of the heavy pop-up camper. 

Periodicity of the technical inspection of pop-up campers in PA

During the first two years from the first registration of the heavy camper, it will not have to pass the inspection. When two years are completed, the camper will pass the first technical inspection and will maintain the biannual periodicity until six years. 

Campers with a GVWR greater than 1500 lbs. that are between 6 and 10 years old will pass the technical inspection once a year, and from the age of 10 you will have to pass the inspection every 6 months.

One of the most important issues, especially the first time you go to pass the technical inspection with your camper, is to carry all the necessary documentation with you, whether it is a light camper or a heavy camper. 

You will have to provide a series of documents, starting with those that serve to demonstrate that the camper hitch, the famous tow ball, has been correctly installed by a professional trained for it and recognized by the industry as such since otherwise, you could have problems.

What do they check at the technical inspection of pop-up campers in PA?

For your pop-up camper to pass the technical inspection in PA it will have to meet a series of technical requirements. Beyond checking the documentation, the technical inspection technician will pay special attention to four elements: 

  1. the gas installation, 
  2. the hitch, 
  3. the lights
  4. and the wheels. 

The gas installation will be fixed on the breather and the state of the rubber. Remember that the rubber expires after 4 years, so before the first technical inspection, you will have to change it even if you have not used it much. Check it before every inspection.

The hitch and the lights are not much of a mystery. The inspector will check that they are in good condition and that all the lights and pilots are working – something you can check before the inspection. 

Finally, in the tire’s section, you will look at the wear and the date of manufacture of the wheel. Even if you do not use it too much, it is recommended to change the wheels of the pop-up camper every six years to avoid that the technical inspection declares us not suitable for fitting too old wheels.

Going for the technical inspection for the first time with your pop-up camper can be stressful, but there is nothing to worry about. As you can see, most of the checks can be done at home to arrive at the station with the confidence that everything is fine. Make sure the inertia brake works, although that should be common every time you take the pop-up camper. Check the status of the lights and the expiration dates of the rubber and tires. 

5 reasons why your pop-up camper may not pass the technical inspection 

Reason #1: The tires

It is very important to check the inside of the tires.

The choice of tires and their condition is the ABC of vehicle safety. It’s good condition is essential to avoid possible accidents or, simply, an annoying puncture that will force you to drop your knee, remove the jack and change the wheel. That, in the event that your car has a spare wheel, because, if not, you will be forced to call the insurance.

According to the law, the minimum depth of the tire to pass the technical inspection must be 1.6 millimetres. This is something that the vast majority of drivers know and check before going to pass the inspection, but what not everyone knows is that you also have to check the outer and inner sides. 

Poorly balanced can cause the inside of the wheels to be more worn than it should be, even with exposed wires. If so, the inspector will note a serious offence and your car will not pass the technical inspection 

Reason #2: Lighting and signalling

Checking the status of the lights is quick and easy.

As with tires, the lighting and signalling system is essential to circulate with all the safety guarantees. Although it is easy to verify, this is one of the most typical faults in technical inspection.

If, for example, the low beam of one of the headlights does not work, your car will not get the favourable report to pass the technical inspection. The inspector will check everything, so even the bulb that illuminates the license plate must be in perfect condition. Fortunately, they are quick and cheap to fix.

Reason #3: Shock absorbers

Bad shock absorbers increase the stopping distance of the vehicle. The braking distance, for example, is noticeably lengthened. For this reason, among others, some shock absorbers in poor condition will make you fail the technical inspection of your camper. 

Reason #4: Rear-view mirrors

With a broken mirror, you will not pass the technical inspection. 

If any of the mirrors are broken or missing, your car will not pass the technical inspection of your camper. This seems obvious, but it turns out that if, for example, the case is not properly fastened, it can also be considered a serious defect. Here it will depend on the humour of the inspector who lets it pass or not.

Reason #5: The windows

Broken or missing windows is another reason for your camper not to pass the technical inspection. 

As with the fastening of the mirrors, a blow to the moon may or may not be a reason for your camper not to pass the technical inspection and, at this point, we will be in the hands of the inspector. To refine a little more, we can say that, if the defect is in the part of the window that is in front of the driver’s position and it has begun to crack, it is very likely that it is considered a serious defect.


Oil, cooling, starting, gearbox, steering, tires: these elements must be in perfect condition, not only to avoid extraordinary maintenance costs but for road safety. Make sure you check every aspect before your camper inspection. 

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any tips, comments or questions about the content.

FAQ on Do pop-up campers need to be inspected in PA?

Where can I have my motorhome inspected?

You can have your motorhome inspected in any part of the country. There are several hundred approved centres nationwide. Just make an appointment, sometimes online, and show up with the original registration certificate – a copy would not be accepted.

How much will the technical inspection of my vehicle cost me?

The price of the technical control varies according to the centres and regions. However, it will rarely cost less than 50 dollars, and just as rarely more than 100 dollars.  The control includes vehicle identification elements (license plates, documents, etc.), braking equipment, steering and visibility equipment, various lights and reflective devices, and the condition of the tires.

What happens in the event of an inspection failure?

If the controller detects the slightest “major” or “critical” failure, the technical inspection is not validated. The consequences are different between major failures and critical failures.

Other FAQs about Pop up campers  that you may be interested in.

Do I need a weight-distribution hitch for a pop-up camper?

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