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Electronic inspections to take stickers off cars

Posted October 31, 2008
Updated November 2, 2008

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— North Carolina will launch an electronic system to keep track of vehicle inspections Saturday, letting drivers get rid of that sticker on the windshield.

Some drivers worry, however, that losing those faithful reminders will make them miss their inspection dates.

The new method is also designed to synchronize when car owners must get their vehicles inspected and when they renew their vehicle registrations. In fact, the law, which takes effect Saturday, blocks people from registering their vehicles until they are inspected.

The law requires mechanics to enter vehicle inspection information directly into a state database. That will allow the state to stop printing windshield stickers; instead, drivers will be notified of their inspection and registration deadlines by mail.

The overall goal is to get more people to follow the laws about inspections and registration while improving air quality and the state highway system, state Division of Motor Vehicles officials said.

When a car-owner renews a registration, DMV workers will be able to access the electronic database to find out if the inspection has been done. Law enforcement officers will have that same capability through the computers in their cruisers.

But what if no one fully understands the law?

That was the case at Ed's Tires & Auto Service in Fayetteville. Drivers and mechanics expressed confusion over what the law would entail for drivers getting inspections and renewing registrations in the next year.

"We're a little confused about it," employee Roy Player said.

The DMV's Web site promises, "Over the synchronization period, no vehicle will have to be inspected more than once in a 12-month period."

  • What if your inspection is due in the remainder of 2008, but your registration doesn't expire until sometime in 2009? Go ahead and get the vehicle inspected this year. You will not be required to have another inspection when your registration is renewed.
  • What if your registration is due for renewal first? In that case, you can skip getting your inspection until you renew your tags the following year.

Use the No-Sticker Calculator to figure out when your vehicle needs to be inspected and registered.

DMV officials said the department will be working with drivers to make sure they understand how to follow the new law and will not impose fines immediately for missed deadlines. They recommended keeping the paper print-out from auto shops showing that your car was inspected.

Some at Ed's Tires, though, expressed frustration at having the handy stickers removed from vehicles.

"I say, it's still easier to have the sticker on there, because that way, everyone knows when it has to be done," mechanic Josh Calb said.

However, other mechanics expressed confidence that the state government would find a way to make the new system work.

"The DMV has got it all worked out. Don't know quite how they've got it worked out, but they've got it worked out," Player said.

29 Comments

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  • tchr313 Nov 3, 2008

    Great, so now instead of paying for an inspection in July and registration in December, I have to pay them both in the same month??
    No big deal to those that make the big bucks, but an extra $30-50 at one time IS a big deal on my monthly budget!!

    I like having it broken up a bit.

  • udoowutchyalike Nov 3, 2008

    So I hope this means that the price for these inspections will go down. My buddy owns a garage and he says he has to pay $5 per sticker, so if there's no more stickers, that price should go down. HA, what am I thinking, they'll probably raise the price again

  • familyfour Oct 31, 2008

    Ya'll know it is all about the money!

    ~ at least there is some benefit to it. I have found potential problems during inspections before, when I may have not otherwise had my vehicle "checked out", so I feel good knowing I do my part to keep me and the family, as well as other motorists~ and have a good mechanic ~

  • Hip-Shot Oct 31, 2008

    "Get rid of the safety inspection all together. Other states, like SC and Georgia did away with this years ago because it was such a joke."

    Absolutely. The safety inspection is nothing but another tax. I had my 1976 280Z inspected today, and it has no modern emissions to speak of(catalytic converter, egr, etc.). The whole thing was a formality to hand over some money to the state.

  • familyfour Oct 31, 2008

    Also, once this is on a roll, you won't have to check the computer about a valid inspection....if they have valid tags, the inspection is valid, too ~ hand in hand

  • familyfour Oct 31, 2008

    Nothing is really changing about the system, except the loss of the actual sticker. Ever since OBDII was implemented, this information database has been formed. The inspection process has been computerized, and linked with the Division of License and Theft for quite some time. This is just a broader form of something that has been in the works for years.

    Part of the whole reason for implementing the OBDII testing was to ensure that purchasers were able to buy a car that had not been tampered with so far as sensors, trouble lights, and other little garage tricks that could be performed, and are undetectable by anything other than a diagnostic computer. This eliminated a lot of underhanded garage/car lot tactics that put vehicles on the road that otherwise would not pass inpection. It will be different, but it will all work out.

  • Adelinthe Oct 31, 2008

    leo-nc - "We'll be able to look it up on the computer."

    Well yeah, but now you can see them outright. Right?

    At ID check roadblocks, etc., will you have to look up each car before you let them pass???

    Thanks for responding.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • winchester73 Oct 31, 2008

    Oh yeah, sure ... this will save us all money, and reduce confusion ... and eliminate the unsafe clunkers from the road.

  • Riddickfield Oct 31, 2008

    Get rid of the safety inspection all together. Other states, like SC and Georgia did away with this years ago because it was such a joke. Only an emissions test is required by the US government, and that is all you should have to do.

    This is an antiquated practice dating back to a long gone era when cars were not well built and people did not understand them as we do today.

  • leo-nc Oct 31, 2008

    "And LEO will know when expections on cars have expired - HOW???"--

    We'll be able to look it up on the computer.

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