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Those Dreadful State Vehicle Inspections

tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
How do I make sure my vehicle will pass an inspection? What are the requirements? Who do I go to? What if my vehicle doesn't pass inspection? How much should I pay?

Ask your questions and share tips and information here!


  • Well like you said it is a STATE inspection so every state is different. In Maine it covers all lights, suspension, exhaust, tires, brakes, basically important safety items are the biggest things. Some other states also require emission testing, and others also require a computerized test on 96 and newer vehicles. best to visit your Motor Vehicle website for your state for the complete list of requirement. Also on that website you should be given the cost which is usually a set price and places where you can have it done at. If you fail you will be given a list of things that need to be completed, you may have the work done at that facility or done where ever you prefer, just like a normal repair.

    The best way I can suggest you take care of this is take the required test by your state and then you dont have to worry about you vehicle failing the State Inspection. jk
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Hi, Duncan.

    Actually, someone in the Forums Discussion Finder wanted to know where to post about a question concerning the NJ state inspection. Since we didn't have any relevant topics I set this one up and rather than creating one for each of 50 states ... well you get the idea!

    She hasn't found her way here yet but I'll be interested in reading what her question is!

    tidester, host
  • :mad: Here in the northern part of Delaware the air pollution has become so bad the federal government has told the county clean up the air or lose funds for road building.

    So now instead of the normal tail pipe test to check emissions , they now want to check the Obd 11 , which checks your car's computer,and if you've had recent work on your car, such as the 2ND replacement (under warrenty) of the O2 sensors, or had a battery installed, it can interfere with the test, and the state won't pass you regardless if you have perfect brakes/lights etc. I went to Castle Hyundai, the car dealer, explained this to them, they said you have to drive the car around awhile for the computer codes to reset, enabling the state inspection to pass you. Until then certain codes cannot be read ny DMV. I ask what is the fix so I can pass. They told me to drive a few hundred more miles MORE because the 2002 sonata has a quirk that way, what a load of b/s.I'm thinking.

    I've drived close to 800 miles since the work was done three weeks ago. Is this guy correct or should I go back to the dealer and have them fix/reset the computer so I am not sitting in line at the DMV and wasting my time ?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    That doesn't make any sense to me either. Can you try a different inspector?

    tidester, host
  • What you are being told is accurate. You cannot unhook your battery to clear any trouble codes and then go to your friendly inspector to pass an OBD check. The computer in the system keeps track of this and you will automatically show up as not ready for inspection. The only way to remedy this is to drive the car for however long it takes for the OBD computer to accrue enough information so that your car shows itself ready. The distance differs from brand to brand depending on the design of the diagnostic system. FYI I am the assitant director of a state air pollution control agency.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Thanks for the clarification. It sounds to me like the state lacks confidence in the accuracy of its emissions tests and presumes "guilt" on the part of the car owner if OBD has been reset - for any reason.

    tidester, host
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,655
    Hhmm actually I think the state is operating under federal clean air guidelines for inspections which may indicate vehicle must be in ready state.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    vehicle must be in ready state

    I'm just not seeing the logic. At the time of inspection, either the car's emissions are within requirements or they are not. The state of the OBD should have no bearing on that. But then no one said federal guidelines need to be logical.

    tidester, host
  • ray80ray80 Posts: 1,655
    Oh I see where your coming from, but I believe the states mentioned (like here in CT) don't actually test the product coming out of rear on 96' or newer vehicles, what they check is what OBDII has to say, not what tailpipe spits out. That is where the 'not ready' comes into play, whatever checks OBDII does (multiple checks and over an extended time). in thisa case not enough of those multiple checks have run long enough after the repair to make vehicle ready
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    don't actually test the product coming out of rear on 96' or newer vehicles

    That would explain it! I suppose it would reduce overall costs while placing a substantial burden on those with faulty computers - or battery problems.

    tidester, host
  • Ray, You are correct. If the computer in the car shows not ready, the test cannot be performed because the inspection computer is programmed to kick out a not ready message. In my state, if an inspection station is caught falsifying test results their inspection license will be pulled.
    The requirements for these tests are in federal regulation. These tests actually do help keep the air cleaner and can also let you know before some potential failures happen. The old tailpipe tests could only find a problem after an equipment failure had occurred.
  • :mad: -it's all about the money- The state/county governemt allowed MORE/MORE and MORE homes/industrial parks/chemical facilities to do as they may, after so many years the air became so polluted the federal goverment/epa said clean up your air or else, no more highways funds, They even tried adding addtional turn lanes at stop lights so there would be less stalling and emissions, I do not blame the EPA. The fault lays with those who allowed this to occur, the government in Dover,the most secretive body in all 50 states.
  • You do realize, I hope that vehicle miles traveled(VMT) has tripled in the northeast in the past 30 years? So even though individual cars are cleaner than before, mobile sources are now more than half of the emission inventory nationwide. While government can, and does, control both the rate and total emissions of the stationary source sector there are no similar controls on the total emissions from the mobile sector(escalating VMT) The bottom line is that vehicle inspections are not a sinister plot, but a necessary part of the program to make your air healthful to breathe.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    The problem is the OBD reading in the car is often not correct.

    I have read many stories about people having their check engine light come on. The OBD identifies a problem, they spend hundreds of dollars to fix that problem, and then the light come on again. Some people claim they have spent $2000 or more but the light keeps coming on.

    In my opinion, the OBD reading cannot be trusted and it is causing car owners to waste a lot of money.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    The ODB only tells you the code based on a sensor failing. It is accurate. The issue is many mechanics like to "throw parts" at a vehicle instead of diagnosing the problem. Some times it takes time to find out the true cause of the problem and it requires a certain condition that is not repeatable in a simple 5 minute, around the block test drive.

    Computers don't lie, people do.
  • geo9geo9 Posts: 739
    In the late 80s Fla. did away with its yearly auto inspections (which were done by a state/county agency).
    Within a year there was quite a few rattletraps running

    Scary !
  • Can anyone provide a little more info along these lines? My wife and I are going crazy because three ready monitors on our 2000 Saturn SL2 have been "not ready" for the last 6 weeks. (We live in Chicago by the way.) We've been to three diff. mechanics. All advised us to drive the car until the monitors reset. We've now driven more than 1200 miles in all different road conditions. The last mechanic we saw, in an EPA recommended garage with a 100 percent success rate in this area, told my wife there was basically nothing wrong with the car (he said we'd gone through 6 drive cycles since the problem began) but computer was reporting something was wrong -- and that it would cost "hundreds and hundreds" of dollars to repair the computer. His advice was to "beg" the EPA to allow us to pass. Another mechanic friend suggested getting the computer flushed at a dealer, but I'm told that will switch all the monitors to "not ready"...and a third mechanic says a flush isn't the answer because the "engine trouble" light isn't on... Any thoughts about something we might be missing? I'm at my wits end here... Many thanks for any help.
  • Just purchased an used 2006 SUV from a type of car purchasing service. I have very little technical knowledge about cars, so please bear with me. Here's a bit more about the car:

    - Bought at a PA auction by the NY car purchasing service, so NY service took title from PA auction place
    - sold car to us and we registered it in NJ (where we live)
    - 2006 Land Rover LR3, apprx 12,000 miles at time of auction

    Anyway, I took it to my local (New Jersey) Dept. of Motor Vehicles for inspection and it failed the emissions part. Reason was DMV system was unable to read the OBD (On-Board Diagnostic system) of the vehicle, so according to DMV the vehicle's system is not ready to determine the status of the pollution control system. Spoke to Land Rover claims that this happens because the DMV cannot read the OBD because it is an "CAN enabled system" and that I need to have the DMV give me permission to let L/Rover's state qualified emissions technician provide a written statement that the vehicle's emissions system is OK and have the DMV accept this as proof enough to get the inspection sticker. In other words, the DMV's system will continue to be unable to read the OBD on the vehicle, but DMV will give me a passing grade any way because the dealer's techician says the car is OK. Also L/Rover says this is only a problem (that he knows of) with this particular model year and model. I had the L/Rover service dept test the vehicle twice and according to them everything looks good (after recharging the battery and rerunning the vehicle through all the codes).
    Do you guys have any ideas on how to handle this? I'm concerned about having a vehicle that has to get DMV clearance in this offline roundabout way, instead of the straightforward way I'm used to on previous cars. I much prefer to have the DMV plug in and be able to clear the car as usual. I'm also concerned in having to do this every year (annual inspection). How will I know that in some year in the future, the DMV won't tell me this is unacceptable and I'm stuck with a useless vehicle because it won't clear inspection.

    Should I keep going with this vehicle or proceed as if it is a lemon? Please help. Thanks.

    p.s. - I have also been told that sometimes the issue I'm having has to do with a battery being disconnected and that if I drive the car around for a bit (a week or so), that would give the car a chance to 're-learn' what it needs to clear all of these so-called codes. I guess I'm concerned about what to do if it fails again even after I do the drive-around. Thanks again.
  • joel0622joel0622 Posts: 3,302
    Should I keep going with this vehicle or proceed as if it is a lemon? Please help. Thanks.

    Your car is not a :lemon: your states inspection equipment is.

    Sounds to me like the only choice you have is to sell it. Does the dealer charge you for the letter? If not its no big deal, when you get you oil changed close to renewal time ask them to do the test. It actually sounds allot more convenient then sitting in line at a state inspection station
  • geo9geo9 Posts: 739
    Its a 2006 with 12k miles correct????????????

    If so the mfr. HAS to warranty it will pass ALL Fed emission
    tests for 5yrs. 100k miles???? right?

    I would be at that dealer and having a talk with the
    service mgr. pronto !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But yet again its a land rover !
    They are one piss poor vehicle.............
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    considering that there a more then 2 or 3 land rover LR3 owners in the state of NJ, I'm sure this situation has happened before. Considering the emissions test comes with a print out with your vehicles information, I'm not sure why the DMV does not accept the dealerships test results if there equipment can not read your car. Gotta love bureaucracies.

    there is a Land Rover salesman that frequents these forums. He may be able to help you with this situation. You may want to post this in the Land rover Forum as well.
  • nonjth13nonjth13 Posts: 91
    Sorry, I just saw your question. I dont have an answer to your question but I will check with my staff and try and get you an answer.
  • nonjth13nonjth13 Posts: 91
    ifican, It apears that what is happening to your car is that the computer power is being interrupted most likely when the car is turned off. That will result in the computer not showing ready for test. Since vehicles provide power to the computer differently, I can't be more specific. It may be a short somewhere or a blown fuse.
  • Will not pass emissions because it has a code what a bunch of BS. Replaced my gas cap and now need to get temporary registration for the OBD system to reset its self. This is total goverment BS as usual. No wonder we dont get cool diesel cars like in europe we have such strict emission standards they have a srangle hold on new innovation. Good job tree huggers. :sick:
  • occupant1occupant1 Posts: 412
    25 years old is the cutoff for having to check emissions. Our 1984 Suburban has one more e-test due 12/07, and then I'll park it from 12/08 to 1/09 and take it in for a safety only check then. I'm considering going with a 96-up car for my wife so I can test it myself before taking it in (some code readers can do that) and then an 82 or 83 or older car for myself. We'll keep the Suburban unless we can't fix the AC. There are FEW stations with the dynometer to run the tailpipe test for 83-95 cars and I'm sick of trying to find them each year! Most inspections stations only offer testing for 96-up cars or safety only.

    That or move out to the country. Something. Geez...
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Will not pass emissions because it has a code what a bunch of BS. Replaced my gas cap and now need to get temporary registration for the OBD system to reset its self. This is total goverment BS as usual. No wonder we dont get cool diesel cars like in europe we have such strict emission standards they have a srangle hold on new innovation. Good job tree huggers.

    Interesting, how would you propose that we go about doing things? The OBDII method is the most cost efficient because it transfers a lot of the technology to the car rather than having the inspection stations (in a lot of states the gas station owners) invest in the technology.

    As for European Emissions? Funny I think they are much stricter than ours IIRC, and gas there is significantly more expensive than here.

    Motorsports and Tuning Host
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    The OBDII method is the most cost efficient ...

    Most cost efficient for whom?

    And then there is the Prius for which it is impossible to pass the test but owners must submit their vehicles for testing anyway and PAY the fee - followed by a trip to a special referee facility - with extra charge!

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Most cost efficient for whom?

    The Gas Stations who do the state inspections. If they had to invest in a 100k or 200k machine to do a $25 test, a lot would not be in business. With the OBDII method, the computer setup for it is significantly less expensive.

  • mta2mta2 Posts: 5
    I have the same exact problem. 2006 Mercedes Benz CLK350 with 6k miles. I get the same message when I got for inspection. The car has been to the dealer twice already and they can't find anything wrong with it. They can do all their OBD2 diagnostics but DMV can't. Does mine have the CAN system also? I heard it does.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Here is the thing, if you "reset" or otherwise play with the OBDII system such as hooking it up to a dealer's OBDII setup, you need to wait about 200 or so miles for the OBDII Readiness Tests to be complete. I'm not sure if thats why DMV is failing you but in the past that's what usually kills your DMV test is the "Not All Readiness Tests Complete" which is the error that comes through if you reset a CEL or otherwise connected up an OBDII scanner to your car less than 200 miles prior to the inspection.

This discussion has been closed.