Elevator inspection service is designed to provide access to the elevator hoistway and car top for inspection and maintenance purposes by qualified lift mechanics. It is first activated by a key switch on the car operation panel usually labeled 'Inspection', 'Car Top', 'Access Enable' or 'HWENAB'. When this switch is activated the elevator will come to a stop if moving, car calls will be canceled (and all buttons disabled), and hall calls will be assigned to other lift cars in the group, or it will be canceled in a single elevator configuration. The elevator can now only be moved by the corresponding 'Access' key switches, usually located at the highest (to access the top of the car) and lowest (to access the elevator pit) landings. The access key switches will allow the car to move at reduced inspection speed with the hoistway door open. This speed can range from anywhere up to 60% of normal operating speed on most controllers, and is usually defined by local safety codes.

Elevators have a car top inspection box that allows the car to be operated by a mechanic in order to move it through the hoistway. Generally, there are three buttons: UP, RUN, and DOWN. Both the RUN and a direction button must be held to move the car in that direction, and the elevator will stop moving as soon as the buttons are released. Most other elevators have an up/down toggle switch and a RUN button. The inspection panel also has standard power outlets for work lamps and powered tools.