Mandatory Vehicle Inspection (rant)

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by bostjan, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I don't know how many of you guys out there deal with this, probably quite a few.

    I know that places like Europe already have stringent controls, but from my understanding, the system is cleaner than what we deal with here in Vermont.

    I'm talking about mandatory yearly automotive inspections. Here, we have this shiny various-coloured stickers that go on the windscreen/windshield of your car or on the fork of your motorcycle. If your sticker is the wrong colour or has the wrong number on it, you get a costly ticket for driving an unsafe vehicle.

    Don't we want safe vehicles on the road? Of course, but that's never what this is about. The problem is that the system here is corrupted and broken. My car fails inspection for whatever random reason, never anything to do with safety nor with smog emissions, every damn year. In fact, just for fun, a few years back, I took the same vehicle to four different inspection shops - the result, which should have been shocking, was no surprise to anyone living here - three shops failed the car for reasons that had absolutely no overlap, and the fourth passed it (1: suspension and shallow tire tread, 2: a spot of rust that wasn't there and a tiny chip in the windshield, 3: oxygen sensor and muffler, 4: passed). Meanwhile, the guy down the street with a 1980's Ford pickup that won't start in the morning, has rust holes all the way through, and belches out blue smoke constantly never lapses inspection tags. It's a racket, and everyone knows it, yet it's a major thorn in my side when I have to play the shell game with local mechanics once a year or else have to give up two months pay to "fix" my car, when there is nothing actually wrong with it. The reason I bring this up now, is that my mechanic and my backup mechanic both retired in the past 12 months and my car is up for inspection at the end of the month.
     
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  2. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Here in Chicago (I'm really not sure if it's Cook County or the whole state) we have to have our car's emissions checked once a year. You go and get it done at a place, and they give you a sticker there... but usually there's a really long line for both the emissions check and the sticker.

    This year, I didn't have enough time on my break to wait in both lines. So I went and got my emissions checked at the official place, but then I had to cruise back to work. So the next day I go to the currency exchange that is much closer to my office to grab the sticker, since they sell them there. I walk up to the window with my signed sheet from the emissions place, and the lady behind the glass says something like "Hahaha you can't fool them but you can fool me! You can put that away I don't need it" and I give her cash she gives me a sticker.

    So next year, fuck the emissions center, I'm just going to buy a sticker with cash at the currency exchange.
     
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  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    But that's just the way these sorts of things seem to always go, here in the USA. You can either deal with the corrupt state mechanic guy, grease another corrupt state worker's palms, or, if you are really really lucky, you might find the guy who actually checks your car to see if everything is safe and then move on.

    In 2015, we got new legislation here such that each state mechanic had to get a special direct cable link to the state capitol for diagnostic and emission verification. It was supposed to end the corruption. But...get this, the state hired one special contractor to run the cables, who, of course, took advantage of the system and is pricing the mechanics out of business with the monopoly. Nice job there.

    I think this is just a clear case of "a good idea molested by sanctioned corruption." Even with the computer link directly to the capitol, all you have to do is plug in someone else's car to pass the test. And, at any rate, you can't tell me that a rock chip the size of a mosquito on the lower corner of my windshield is as dangerous as someone driving with no brakes, nor that the suspension I just replaced with brand-new OEM parts six months ago is already shot, even though the car shows no external visible signs of suspension trouble, nor that a barely-visible spot of rust on the frame of my car is less safe than the guy three houses down the street with his pickup where you can see his legs through the rust holes in the passenger door as he drives by.

    We have lines here, too, but at least the state mechanic who runs the diagnostics also does the repair and places the sticker on your vehicle. But, that's also kind of the trouble. If you are not raised locally, a lot of mechanics will try to fuck with you, flat out and unabashedly. "Wheh ya frum? Detroit? Ahh, so then you must know 'bout the skid control on deez cahs. Gotta replace the computuh every time. Three hundred bucks." Skid control my ass. You just turn off the light and charge me $300 for nothing. Don't tell me that's not the case.
     
  4. NickLAudio

    NickLAudio Audio/Video Engineer

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    Having a NYS inspector license myself and having worked at a Chevy dealer as a mechanic doing inspections, I can agree the inspection system is totally broken. It's not so much as a safety inspection as it is a source of revenue for the state. I mean c'mon, they just added window tint to the inspection list. Your car is safe with clear or black windows either way. Reason being is so cops can see clearly into your car for what ever reason needed. That's not a car safety thing, that's a state agenda thing. The state seems to be blurring the lines.

    It also really depends on what mechanic you get as you were saying. Some mechanics do a quick check, quick computer diagnostic, slap a sticker on and send you on your way. Inspections barely pay the mechanic anything and on a flat rate pay scale, time is everything. Other mechanics will pick apart a car hoping the customer will buy everything they recommend. Things like balljoints, tierods, bearings, are all things that if it had a catastrophic failure, could send you suddenly out of control into traffic or over a guard rail while your wheel pops off and passes you bouncing down the road. That is why I absolutely suggest people do a little reading on the basic parts of cars. You drive them everyday, at least know a little about them. Not gear head status but I mean don't say "Fill her up" when I tell you your blinker fluid is low. This way you don't get ripped off buying a part that you don't need.

    On the other hand, sometimes you inspect a car thoroughly just so any blame later doesn't fall on you. There was a story a couple weeks ago about a few mechanics getting in trouble because they were passing cars with illegal tint. Really?...

    Another story was an old lady brought in her ancient oldsmobile for inspection. Frame was rusted almost all the way through but the mechanic was in a rush and just passed it and sent it. Two days later, that old lady rear ended a car in front of her and got smashed from behind. That car folded in half like an accordion, killing the old lady. Investigation showed the car never should have been on the road and the mechanic is up for manslaughter charges. Pretty F'ed up.
     
  5. thraxil

    thraxil cylon

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    Crazy idea for a simple solution: add a rule that if a shop that does the inspection finds issues, they are not allowed to do the repairs. Ie, you would have to take it to a competitor of theirs to get it fixed.
     
  6. High Plains Drifter

    High Plains Drifter SS.org Regular

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    Texas... yea we get to mess with this every year too. With 3 vehicles, it seems like I'm always dealing with an upcoming inspection. Failed one last year b/c of my Jeep's lightly tinted front turn signal lenses. I had amber bulbs so it was ridiculous... had to go home, swap 'em out, and go back again. Luckily I had saved the originals. Criteria as to what passes down here is even more laughable... One place will fail me cause of the "Delta" decals on the headlights ( DOT compliant btw so wtf??) yet another place has no problem with the decals. At least I don't have to pass SMOG in this county... although if I lived just over the county line, I would. I've got another inspection due next month and after some hard wheeling a few weeks ago in the Jeep, I now have an ESP/ BAS light coming on... so I'll have to get this vehicle an alignment in order to pass this year. All these inspections are costing me about $230 annually... just a complete pain in the ass too.
     
  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That's the thing, though, the other non-state-mechanic shop you take your car to will just say that the stuff doesn't need to be replaced. I'm not joking when I say that brand new parts are often cited for not being up-to-snuff around here by certain state mechanics.

    My wife's truck failed one year because it had a mount for flood lights as delivered from the dealership, but no actual flood lights. So I had to yank off the front bumper brackets and replace them with aftermarket ones without the flood light mounts. Six previous inspections, the same vehicle had the same brackets, and no one batted an eye, then, suddenly, it's an issue...why? Because we want your money, that's why. Does not having flood lights pose a safety issue? If it does, then 90-95% of the cars out there are unsafe.

    Sounds exactly like what goes on here.

    I do think it'd be different if the state mechanics only offered inspection and were not allowed to try to coax you into repairing stuff through their business. But again, the trouble is that the state mechanics have to pay outrageous prices for their "direct computer link" to the capitol, so they actually lose money if they charge $50 for inspection only and you pass.

    But here's a thought - maybe if my car breaks, I need to just fricken fix it. Not so it'll pass inspection, but so that it's safe to drive. If my wheel bearings fall apart two days before the inspection is due, whose fault is that? I think that the state inspection thing logically falls apart at it's foundation if you really think about it.

    That's what I'm talking about, though. If you service the vehicle on Monday, the driver pours acid over the axles on Tuesday, and then wrecks the car on Wednesday, is that your fault for not catching the problem? Where I grew up in Michigan, they got rid of inspections, because the fact that they were just a racket to financially punish people in lower income levels and also people who aren't mechanically savvy became all too transparent. Ultimately, the operator of the vehicle is responsible for safely operating the vehicle. If your car is leaking a bunch of fluids all over the road, having an inspector look at it once a year isn't going to prevent anything. If it leaks, you fix it or get it fixed right then... :nuts:
     
  8. thraxil

    thraxil cylon

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    I'm saying that if that rule was added, then there would be no incentive for them to find bogus things wrong with your car, since it would only earn money for their competitors.
     
  9. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

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    Yeah, we've got yearly inspections here in MA, too.

    Not that it seems to really matter to anyone in my city. The jury-rigged specimens I see rolling down the streets- at the apparent cusp of explosion and with two-year-old red-R Rejection stickers- seem to illustrate how the system is kind of necessary but kind of doesn't work.
     
  10. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire baritone6/8 string hoarder

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    Never had to deal with that kind of bullshit anywhere in the midwest or in PA. Worst thing around here is how fucking minnesotans merge at 45 when they have plenty of merge lane to actually get up to 65mph. Oh, that and how they do 65 in snow and 30 in rain. I have never laughed harder while driving than watching dipshits in 4x4s careen into a ditch or hydroplane off the road in a snowstorm. I'm pretty sure drivers here have been rated as some of the worst in the country.
     
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  11. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    In the UK the emission and safety checks are done only by the Ministry Of Transport (MOT) in designated and government owned centers. You can either go to a mechanic and have the car checked first or go to the MOT center directly. If it fails they tell you what it's failing for, get it to the mechanic, fix it and reschedule a check. First time my car failed was this past Spring for an "excessively worn steering rod". Got it fixed went for them to check it, they just checked that it was fixed and I was off.
     
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  12. CrazyDean

    CrazyDean SS.org Regular

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    bostjan, it sounds like you need to find out where your neighbor gets his truck inspected and go there.

    In SC, we don't have any type of inspection. Hearing all of these horror stories, I really hope it stays that way. Apparently, we used to have it about twenty years ago, but I don't think they checked all of the stuff you guys are citing, just some obvious safety stuff like lights, tires, brakes, and wipers. I think the smog checks are BS and just a way for the State to impose its agenda.
     
  13. p0ke

    p0ke 7-string guitard

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    Well, it's basically the same thing here in Finland too. You have to have your car checked once a year. You don't get a sticker though, the police just check your registration plate online. Anyway, even though there's a pretty strict code about what they check and how, it depends a lot on who happens to check the car... They don't make things up though, some people are just more thorough while others just can't be bothered. On our previous car, we had to have the base of the car welded one year, and the next year I was sure the same thing would happen again but instead they just gave a warning about one of the shock absorbers leaking...
    One convenient thing over here though, is that if the problems aren't anything major, you just get a warning and have to have those things fixed by next year's inspection. For example my mother in law had her shitty Opel Corsa inspected a couple of weeks ago, and she got warnings for the windshield wipers and a couple of lamps being of the wrong type (I guess they were halogens and need to be LED's these days). I have been telling her to replace the wipers for some time, so that's a completely reasonable warning, the lamp thing is BS but changing those will cost something like 2€, so whatever.. Anyway, imagine if you'd have to bring the car in again for those things :lol:

    Oh and I don't know how it is in the states, but over here the inspection is damned expensive too... I think last year it was 50€ plus another 30 if you need to have it checked again.
     
  14. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

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    It's (IIRC) $35USD where I am, but if the inspection fails, the re-inspection after repairs are made is no additional charge. Not too much of a salve if one had to drop a pile of cash an O2 sensor or a set of new tires, though.
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Well, gee, it sounds like Vermont does really have a raw deal, then. Inspection is more expensive, they check more things, and the sticker is way more obvious (guaranteed you would get pulled over by police if inspection lapses, because the sticker is like 4" tall in the most visible place of the vehicle.

    Here, it's a small community. You either know everyone or you haven't lived here very long. The locals all have connections with a state inspection mechanic somehow, actually, usually more than one of them. Since they passed new laws that make it a lot more expensive to get into becoming a state mechanic, the number of places where you can get a state inspection has dropped to a fraction of what it once was, which has caused severe heartburn for many residents here.

    When I moved to Vermont, it seemed like such a cool place with a few little irritations. The air is fresh, scenery is great, there is a ton of outdoor-stuff to do, and the people are mostly very friendly, but there was that inspection thing, and the taxes are quite high (3rd highest in the USA, I believe), and the level of bullshit at the DMV was something I had never before experienced, where they wanted me to pay sales tax of almost 9x what I paid for my S10 truck, which I had already owned for several years. But since then, the amount of tax BS and regulation BS has increased to the point where I might have to consider moving away simply because I can't afford the taxes and fees of living here anymore.
     
  16. Randy

    Randy Ooh, Degrasse Tyson-son Super Moderator

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    A subject near to my heart :lol: NYS state is EXTREMELY strict when it comes to vehicle inspections (including the inability to renew your registration if you haven't had an inspection the last year, which means instead of a ticket, your car gets impounded and you can go to jail) and I've gotten probably a dozen tickets for no inspection since I started driving. If you're on the road with an inspection from the previous year and you drive to work everyday, you won't last a week before they get you.

    I personally don't mind basic safety and emissions inspections I used to be able to get on my older cars (tires, brakes and lights), but anything post-1995 needs to go through the 'check engine light' scan, which is a nightmare since I haven't had a car that didn't have frequent CEL for non-significant reasons. If they hooked the old emissions tester up to the exhaust it would pass, but because of one of four O2 sensors sending an odd reading or any one of a number of reasons, your light comes on and you're going to pay several hundred dollars fixing a perfect working car just to get it to pass CEL. It's absurd.

    Made further absurd by NYS recently signing onto the California CARB compliant emissions standards. One of the main causes of a CEL is an O2 sensor, likely triggered by a worn catalytic converter. In NYS, you can't buy a used catalytic converter, but you also have to buy a CARB compliant catalytic converter (as opposed to the standard type that are 48 state compatible). I wouldn't hate the idea as much if CARB cats were more environmentally friendly but it turns out the emissions are basically the same, the CARB designation comes simply from WHAT the inside of the cat is made of :spock: Because it's such a niche item, they're astronomically expensive. I needed to replace the cat on both of my last two cars, the standard model was <$200 and the CARB compliant model was close to $700! I actually ended up driving to Vermont and Massachusetts to buy non-CARB compliant models (because they're illegal to sell or ship here), and installing them myself because it's also illegal for a shop to install a non-CARB compliant cat. It's insane.

    /rant
     
  17. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That's crazy. I would love to just ride my bike to work, but I don't want to get run over by some out-of-stater cruising down the road at 15 mph+the speed limit, either.

    Which bring me to another point. Say a small state like VT, or NH, decided to get the strictest regulations on automobiles into effect in order to keep the roads safe and clean. It won't work. It won't work because, at least where I live, nearly half of (maybe more, actually) the automobiles on the roads are registered out of state. Because a) it's a massive PitA to register a vehicle here, b) there's always another state nearby, and c) with a tiny population living here, probably one in ten people here at a given moment are just passing through or doing tourist stuff anyway.
     
  18. PunkBillCarson

    PunkBillCarson SS.org Regular

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    And this is why I love living in Arkansas. Talk shit about us being cousin-fuckers and whatnot, but vehicle inspection is one thing we don't have to worry about.
     
  19. Randy

    Randy Ooh, Degrasse Tyson-son Super Moderator

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    There's definitely something to be said about a happy medium of common sense in regulation. Seems like we always get all of one side, all of the other.
     
  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Hey consobrinamory is not exclusive to the south, it can happen in rural VT, too. It's really difficult for people to find a spouse who isn't related to them in a town where everyone has one of two last names. :lol:

    And, I do appreciate the regulations when it comes to checking things like whether the brake pads have any meat on them anymore or not, but, honestly, I really don't think it gets checked where it really matters, like the guys with the rustbucket pickup trucks whose uncle keeps giving them inspection stickers.
     

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