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Report: Exempt inspections on newer model autos

Posted December 17, 2008

— No more vehicle inspections. It's music to the ears for some owners and one idea from a new legislative report.

But with the Department of Transportation already struggling for money, is eliminating emissions and safety inspections on newer-model vehicles good business for the state?

In a report to the General Assembly released Tuesday, the legislature's Program Evaluation Division recommends exempting vehicles that are 3 years old or less from both inspections.

Annually, state motorists spend approximately $141 million on safety and emissions inspections. Of that, nearly $41 million goes to administer the program.

In North Carolina, the two inspections together cost approximately $30, with $6.25 from each car going to the state. The inspecting station keeps the rest. Of the state's portion, $5.40 goes to administer the program. Thirty cents goes to various scholarships and grants for EMS squads.

The remaining 55 cents goes to the state's Highway Fund, which funds road maintenance and transportation programs. Last fiscal year, it generated $4.3 million in revenue.

If newer model vehicles are exempted, officials estimate the state could lose more than $800,000.

But Brian Bozard, a supervisor with the state Division of Motor Vehicles, says that is not why the DMV opposes the idea.

"It's really a consumer protection issue, the way we see it," Bozard said. "The first time the consumer would go in to get the vehicle inspected, the vehicle would be 4 years old. The warranty would have expired and (that would) shift the burden from the manufacturer to the consumer (for any needed repairs)."

The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee has directed its staff to draft legislation changing the inspection program. It could be introduced during the next legislative session that opens Jan. 28.

The Program Evaluation Division also suggests eliminating the safety inspection program for all cars, saying it is not effective and is an inefficient use of funding.

Nearly three decades of research has failed to conclusively show that mechanical defects are a significant cause of accidents, the report states, and North Carolina crash data indicates 1 percent of all crashes statewide were in part because of a mechanical condition.

Still, Tommy Horton, owner of Mission Valley Service Center in Raleigh, disagrees.

"Definitely, I would think it would save lives," Horton said. "If you have bad tires, you shouldn't be on the highway."

Motorist Jay Morgan believes that with older vehicles, safer is better.

"I know a lot of people, if they're like me, they procrastinate things, and you really shouldn't do that when it comes to certain things on a vehicle," Morgan said.


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  • GravyPig Dec 18, 2008

    Okay, it seems that the GOLO forum software has a hard time with long URLs. Just paste those two lines in the browser with no spaces, and it should come up.


  • GravyPig Dec 18, 2008

    Okay, here it is.....the DMV Inspection manual in PDF format.


    You will probably get bored after the first few minutes of reading, but look specifically at page 37 and on, that has the requirments and rules for inspected items.

    You will find some rules hard to understand, and some even have a grey area.......that's how the state wrote it.

    All that I have said aside, be thankfull you don't live in California, and some Northern states......they sometimes pay lots more, and have tighter rules. We have it pretty good in NC.

  • GravyPig Dec 18, 2008

    Kittiboo - what you are probably referring to as a bumper on a car nowadays is just a decorative cover. That shiny painted part is called a bumper skin. It is for the most part an asthetic part of the car....the covers hide a piece of foam, and the REAL metal bumper. As for mirrors, it's too complicated to explain in 1000 words or less, but in short, they have to be secure, be able to hold its setting, and if it came with it from the factory, it has to be on the car.

    As for things flying off cars, you are at just as much risk from blown retreads, poorly stowed stuff from the back of a pickup, deer, bad drivers, .......well lets just say there is no such thing as being totally safe. Every day we leave our house and get in a car, we are at risk. I would say moreso from bad or inattentive drivers than from parts flying off cars.

  • GravyPig Dec 18, 2008

    Say you have an accident in the first year, and the headlights are pushed out of wack. Inspections catch that (when done properly) and make the owner repair that so that others driving down the road aren't blinded by poorly aimed headlights, and so the driver can see where they are going. So yes, after the fisrt year, all cars should be inspected. How often are you going out and buying a new car? Does the 13.60(safety) or 30.00(safety & emissions) you pay for that inspection REALLY cut into your wallet that bad that you just can't afford it? Would it prevent you from buying that new car? Probably not.

    As for studies, the only one mentioned said that we should do away with the current system because there are so few equipment failure accidents recorded.......wouldn't that just reinforce that the inspection system is working and keeping bad cars of the street or getting them fixed? I think it does.

  • GravyPig Dec 18, 2008

    IfByWhiskey, I am not sure who you are refering to. Perhaps you could clarify things and use either the person's name from the article, or one of the GOLO user names in this forum that you are trying to address this to.

    If directed at me, it seems that you are playing my favorite game......jump to conclusions. I am not paid by the DMV, I am an inspector at a shop in the area. As for justification for an inspection on a new car, I can't justify the FIRST inspection. I can however justify the second and all those that follow. I have seen my fair share of vehicles that for whatever reason have a failed part that would cause a failure under the current laws with very little miles on them (for example, a leaking strut fails, and messes with the handling of the car). The first year should be a gimme, but after that, there are many things that can happen to a car. Alot of people do not maintain their cars outside of changing the oil. They let the car go til something breaks.


  • kittiboo Dec 18, 2008

    68 polara- Are you serious? You don't see the danger in somebody driving around with a missing bumper or their fender being held together by tape? I sure don't want to be in an accident with someone missing a bumper- they're on cars for a reason! Or driving down 540 as someone's mirror flies off. Now that I have been informed that safety inspections don't look for that kind of thing, I think they need to improve their standards.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Dec 18, 2008

    Mr. Bozo, or whatever your name is from DMV,
    Please give me the justification of a NCSI safety for a BRAND NEW CAR right off the truck as it is delivered to the dealer. PLEASE JUSTIFY THAT EXPENSE as it is passed on to the customer when he purchases the car, I am talking about a BRAND NEW CAR mind you.
    Please cite the studies the state has done as to the cause of accidents with regards to mechanical failure vs. driver error.
    It sounds as if you are giving justification to save your job, because in no way can your reasons for the inspections as they are presently administered can be construed as consumer protection.
    Cordially, Sick and Tired NC Motorist

  • 68_polara Dec 18, 2008

    GravyPig:"Quite simply unless you are an inspector, and have taken the training classes for NCSI, then you have no idea what you are talking about. Go out and get yourself an NC inspections manual and read it. You will find that inspections go alot deeper into a car than you think. If your inspector is just checking lights then he is a crook and should have his license revoked."

    I've had inspections at multiple places they don't lift them in to the air. Heck many places they have the customer pull in the the garage area, so often they don't drive the vehicles check steering components or suspension. Your right about one thing though they often honk the horn. I'm always intrigued by how so many important things are not checked but the horn of all things is.

  • GravyPig Dec 18, 2008

    well fkhaywood....I inspected my 86 MR2 in May this year. Just last month i had to replace a burnt out headlight. Alot can happen in a year, and commonly lights will burn out.

    If you take your car to a place that checks the lights when they do oil changes, then this can be prevented.

    Some cars do have telltales that let you know a turn signal is burnt out, some camrys will alert you when any of the rear tailights are out.

    But truthfully, as a driver it is YOUR responsibility to verify the vehicle you drive is in order. Same thing as driving your buddies out of inspection car.....police pull you, and the driver of the car gets the ticket, not the registered owner. I found this out in a company truck years ago.

  • fkhaywood Dec 18, 2008

    If vehicles don't need to be inspected, why do I encounter so many vehicles with burned out headlights, burned out taillights, & burned out turn signals. All of these are a safety issue either for the driver or other drivers. Inspections needs to be conducted more often or vehicles be manufactured with a system that alerts the driver that they have a burned out bulb. I had a 1989 model car that had that system, and a more primative system was available on some vehicles back in the 1970's.