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Thread: Your Car Passed...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    Your Car Passed...

    I've got a friend who owns a car repair shop. He's an officially authorized state safety inspector. The guy who goes over your vehicle and gives you a sticker (well, after you pay for it) if your car passes muster.

    The other day I was hanging out over at the shop, chewing the fat with him while he was inspecting someone's car. A minivan, actually. All four tires were nearly bald. Two of them had absolutely no outer sidewall tread left; the shoulders were as smooth as glass.There was still some tread left on the inner section of the tires, though it was razor thin.

    Fail - right?

    Pass, actually.

    My friend explained. State law says an individual tire has to have the treadwear bars showing across the entire length of the tread and in several sections of the tire before it fails. In other words, a tire can be partially bald - even have a complete flat spot - and still be legal even though it's obviously not safe. A tire such as the tires on this particular minivan would, for example, be very likely to hydroplane because there's insufficient tread depth to dissipate the water on the road. But technically - legally - my friend could not fail the vehicle. All he could do was note on the customer's receipt that the tires were worn to the limit of legality - and advise him that he really ought to consider getting new tires. Soon.

    Case two:

    My friend told me about brake inspection procedure. The law - written by bureaucrats and politicians, not technicians or even people who do their own oil changes - says he can't fail a car for brake problems even if the area around the wheel cylinders (a hydraulic piston with rubber seals) is clearly moist - sure evidence of a leak. And if a hydraulic system such as your car's brakes is leaking, it means your brakes probably aren't working right - or soon won't be. But my friend can't fail you unless he sees drips - not merely evidence of moisture. Because he's not allowed to check further. He - by law, as he explained it to me - cannot probe/pull back or otherwise look behind the rubber dust boots on the wheel cylinders to check to see why the area around there is moist. Because bureaucrats - people who know nothing about cars or how they work - decided this would result in possible damage to the rubber dust boots, which (apparently) had annoyed some influential (but car-ignorant) muckey-mucks, who put pressure on the appropriate legislative body to have the law changed so as to forbid an inspector like my friend from probing further. Even though any sign of moisture around a wheel cylinder is clear evidence of a leak. A slow leak or a small leak, perhaps. But a leak, nonetheless - and bad news, if you give a damn about being able to stop.

    The Law doesn't give a damn about that. What it does give a damn about, is safety theater - making the vehicle owner who goes in for the mandatory inspection feel "safe" if his car is duly stickered. Even if, in fact, it may not be (safe).

    Read the full story (and comment) here:

  2. #2
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Back in the mid 70's, Indiana had a safety inspection law. I had an old Chevy truck. It failed inspection because one door hinge was rusted out and hanging by only one hinge, the cab had a broken mount because of rust, one headlight was held in because of duct tape and the front bumper was a wooden plank out of an old barn.

    They put an orange fail sticker on the windshield. That afternoon, I hit a deer and most of the truck was undamaged but the windshield was broken, big time. The new widnshield didn't have an orange failure sticker and I drove it like that for several weeks when I was home and the law expired. Lot's of people would slip a few bucks for a pass or just not get inspected. Since then, we haven't had any kind of inspection unless your vehicle is clearly unsafe. I don't even have emmisions inspections.
    Honk if you love Jesus.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Raleigh NC, USA
    Growing up in SC, they had a vehicle inspection program. The gas stations didn't make much money off it - so what they'd do is say your headlights needed adjusting (sealed beams, remember those?) and would crank the adjusting screw about 4 turns one way, then 4 turns the other way, and charge you $3 for the "service"

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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