Skip to comments.Are Texas' auto safety inspections worth the hassle?
Posted on 12/13/2009 9:44:44 PM PST by Dubya
After five years of inspecting vehicles, Dallas mechanic Robert Garcia has seen cars with everything from whisper-thin tire treads to brakes ready to fall off.
Garcia like many insurers, legislators and safety advocates can't imagine how bad the disrepair would be without Texas' yearly required safety inspections. "It would cause a big dilemma on the road," said Garcia, who works at Adkison Tire and Service on Irving Boulevard.
But some states have dropped the basic safety review after driver complaints that they were annoying and unnecessary. And some automobile experts in Texas and across the country say more reliable cars and other safety improvements have rendered the inspections obsolete.
Texas is one of 19 states left that require a periodic safety review down from a peak of 31 states in the 1970s. The District of Columbia recently disbanded its inspection program because of high costs and a lack of evidence that the inspections saved lives.
(Excerpt) Read more at dallasnews.com ...
California has smog inspections but no safety inspection and there’s untold numbers of really dangerous cars running around on the freeways out there. There’s lots of accidents due to bumpers and such falling off those heaps.
The safety inspections might be rudimentary, but I’ve got a pretty good idea how much worse it’d get without the simple filters of the inspection process.
of course. it's a tax.
Cost/taxation issues aside, the safety inspection is something I’m very happy to see here.
Now, the *emissions* inspection is something I could do without.
a state auto inspection implicitly makes the state liable for damages suffered in failure an inspected component. However, as damages to the state aren’t likely to be popular with that axis of evil that includes lawmakers, judges and lawyers, it’s not likely to ever be tried.
They have always done it for the money, same as all other states.
Saw the same thing in Florida after they got rid of vehicle inspections.
Actually, Florida used to have auto and truck inspections, and when I lived there many moons ago, a truck I owned failed the brake test, and on the way home from the inspection station the brakes failed altogether (it was a bad master cylinder). So I can't say the inspections were a waste.
As for the emissions, I don't mind not breathing the unburnt fuel emmitted by 1973 Chevy vans that are running on 5 cylinders. Not at all.
Safety inspections are basically worthless. They dropped them here in Oklahoma a few years ago and I see no change in unsafe vehicles, no more no less. I was an inspector in a dealership and before that in my own shop. There’s no money in it for the shop. With labor rates at $80+ per hour how much time can you spend for 14.50. Plus the reports, necessary equipment, dealing with the state, and every ticked off customer that didn’t pass(remember these are customers, not someone you want to tick off). Its really a conflict of interest for the shop. Doesn’t matter if the turn signal doesn’t work if you won’t use it or you’re to busy on a cell phone to bother. If there’s a program it should be administered by the state, not shops. I do not favor that. I prefer road block inspections and tickets for people that don’t signal, rolling stops, cell phones etc.
Actually, the safety and emissions inspection is more like $35 - if you live in one of the more populated areas.
Seems to me, they should just let cops write tickets for unsafe vehicles. I see them on the road practically every day.
“Seems to me, they should just let cops write tickets for unsafe vehicles. I see them on the road practically every day.”
I agree,just enforce the law
DPS takes it seriously, and I know of several inspection stations that have had their licenses pulled for passing vehicles that don't actually pass inspection. It didn't used to be that way. In the seventies, most stations would pass anything. Most of them just wrote out your inspection sticker and charged you a dollar per headlight for adjusting them. I remember one old guy didn't even get out of his chair. Just filled it out, charged me for adjusting the headlights and handed me the scraper to change the sticker.
Y'know, this thread made me start thinking about the "good old days." I knew so many store owners that were crooked as a dog's hind leg back then.
My only concern about the emissions test is that like many things, the standards get jacked up until it costs a fortune to keep up with them.
How would a cop know just by looking at a car that the brakes are bad, until an accident occurs?
So your neglected truck failed it's inspection...and you drove it home anyway?
They should have impounded your vehicle....or fixed it on the spot.
Stopping is pretty important. No?
IMO...that "inspection" was totally worthless if nothing was done about it....And it sounds like you were lucky maybe...you didn't have an accident...
Not the best "look"...but it's certainly possible on many makes and models.
The inspectors don’t have police power. It is legally up to the owner to determine if the vehicle should be repaired on the spot (which is the idea to sell the program to shops) or to illegally drive an unsafe vehicle home and assume all liability.
He doesn’t. He can see how you drive and stop though. The point is define bad brakes. There’s a very large grey area and not all will agree. The government is VERY bad at these type of definitions so in the end it just doen’t work. Shops that do improper inspections are a problem and they are plentiful. I repeat that shops ARE NOT making a fortune on inspections.
I agree with most that this is just a tax.
But one benefit is that they ask for proof of insurance.
Okay, so you believe that the cops should randomly stop people for roadside safety inspections... while looking in their car windows for ‘possible contraband’? Do you also support random DUI checkpoints?
And how good an idea would you think this stop would be if you had to be somewhere at a set time and you were pulled over despite obeying the law?
I’m kind of shocked to learn that only 19 states require vehicle inspections - but then again, I live in “progressive” New Jersey, where everything has some sort of government control attached to it.
We don’t pay an extra fee for inspection (which includes an emissions test, no exceptions), but registering a simple passenger car costs about $40, give or take. Are there registration fees on top of the inspection fees in TX?
I see that you don’t live in Texas.
Inspection and registration are separate.
But there are fees for both, yes?
Yeah, I'm always running over bumpers and hoods.
Texas has a set inspection criteria for brakes. Seems pretty comprehensive to me:
20.02 Brakes. Every passenger car, truck, bus, school bus, and motorcycle shall be equipped with brakes acting on all wheels except:
1. Motor-driven cycles, motor scooters, motorcycle sidecars, or mopeds.
2. Trucks and truck tractors (manufactured prior to 1981) having three or more axles need not have brakes on the front wheels, except that when such vehicles are equipped with at least two steerable axles, the wheels on one steerable axle need not have brakes. However, such trucks and truck tractors must be capable of complying with the performance requirements of this Act.
3. Any vehicle being towed in a driveaway or towaway operation, provided the combination of vehicles is capable of complying with the brake performance requirements, does not require brakes acting on all wheels.
Definition of Terms:
Brake System: A combination of one or more brakes and their related means of operation and control.
Service Brake System: A brake system used for retarding, stopping, and controlling the vehicle under normal operating conditions. This brake is sometimes referred to as “foot brake.”
Parking Brake System: A brake system used to hold and maintain the vehicle in a stationary position. (A positive mechanical means is employed to hold the brake applied when the vehicle is unattended.)
Pedal Reserve: As applied to hydraulic, mechanical, or power assisted hydraulic brakes, this is the amount of distance (total pedal travel) left in reserve when the pedal is depressed to the brake-applied position. (The purpose of the pedal reserve check is to ascertain the degree of the brake adjustment and to demonstrate satisfactory brake actuating system condition).
Equalization: Brakes shall be so adjusted as to operate as equally as practicable with respect to the wheels on the opposite sides of the vehicle.
Driveaway-Towaway Operation: Any operation in which any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, singly or in combination, new or used, constitutes the commodity being transported when one set or more of wheels of any such vehicle are on the roadway during the course of the transportation, whether or not any such vehicle furnishes the motor power.
4. Inspection Procedure. Service brake performance tests should be conducted on a substantially level, hard, smooth surface road or area that is free from loose material, oil, or grease. Using the service brake only, the stopping ability of the vehicle should be tested by one of the following methods.
a. Service Brake Test
1) On Road (Decelerometer): Mount an approved decelerometer at centerline of vehicle. Level the deceleromoter. At a speed of 20 mph apply service brake firmly. Observe decelerometer reading.
2) On Road (Road Test): At a speed of 20 mph apply service brakes firmly. Observe whether a vehicle comes to a smooth stop within the distance prescribed by the chart, “Required Brake Performance.” Inspector should have firm control of the steering wheel throughout the test.
3) Platform Tester: Drive vehicle onto “drive-on-and-stop” platform tester. Apply brakes firmly at a speed from 4-8 mph without wheel lockup. All braking action must take place on the platforms.
NOTE: Front-wheel drive vehicles are to be checked by road test only unless a platform tester specifically approved by the Department to test front-wheel drive vehicles is used.
These machines may be used to inspect the relative effectiveness of each wheel. There should be braking action on all wheels and the action on any one wheel should be 75 percent or more of the action on the other wheel on the same axle.
4) Roller-Type Brake (Dynamometer-Force Measuring Type):
a) Adjust tire inflation to recommended values.
b) Position vehicle on dynamometer rolls and begin test.
c) Follow Departments recommended testing procedures.
b. Test Brake Hydraulic System for Leakage.
While vehicle is stopped, inspector should be able to apply a moderate foot force (40-60 pounds in nonpowered systems and 15-20 pounds in power assisted systems).
c. Test Pedal Reserve.
While the vehicle is stopped, depress brake pedal under moderate foot force (40-60 pounds in nonpowered systems and 15-20 pounds in power assisted systems).
d. Condition of Vacuum System.
Visually inspect system for collapsed, broken, badly chafed and improperly supported hoses and tubes, and loose or broken hose clamps.
5. Inspect Service Brakes for and reject if:
a. Vehicle is not equipped with required service brakes.
b. Upon first application, there is less than 2 inches of pedal reserve as determined by the use of an accurate measurement on the fully applied brake pedal of vehicles equipped with conventional brakes.
c. Upon first application, there is less than 1 inch of pedal reserve as determined by the use of an accurate mea-surement on the fully applied brake pedal of vehicles with power brakes (power must be on and operating when tested).
d. On service brakes that cannot be checked with the use of an accurate measurement, there is less than a reserve of one-third of the total travel distance of the brake actuator.
e. Brake pedal height cannot be maintained under moderate foot force (40 to 60 pounds for conventional - 15 to 20 pounds for power) for a period of 1 minute.
f. There is visible leakage or audible seepage in hydraulic lines and cylinders, or any other part of the service brake system.
g. Fluid level in the master cylinder is more than 1 inch below the top of the reservoir or below manufacturers recommended level.
h. Hoses or cables are restricted, abraded, crimped, cracked, leaking, frayed, or broken.
i. Brake rods or mechanical parts are missing, broken, badly worn, or misaligned.
j. Brake operating levers or control cables do not operate freely, improperly positioned, or misaligned.
k. Any part of the service brake system has been removed, disconnected, rendered inoperative.
l. There is an obvious metal to metal contact sound when brakes are applied, and upon investigation, drum or disk is being scored.
m. The service brakes do not develop the required total braking force as determined by machine tests.
n. Brakes do not meet requirements for stopping distances for the class of vehicle.
o. The brakes are not equalized as determined from road testing or by machine tests of the vehicle.
p. Brake warning lamp or signal is on or comes on during test.
NOTE: Anti-lock (ABS) lamp or signal which is on or comes on during test will not be cause for rejection.
NOTE: It is imperative that brake system reservoir cover and the surrounding area be thoroughly cleaned before cover is removed for inspection to assure that NO DIRT OR WATER is mixed with the brake fluid.
We also have regs for parking brakes.
I would though suspect the poster had little mechanical expertise about brakes....after they told him the brakes failed the test....
At the least wouldn't you think about checking it out before you placed yourself in a possible "bad" situation?
not much, champ. I think you were given three attempts to pass inspection. The brakes weren't shot at the station, or perhaps they would have impounded it.
And anyone with any sense can control a vehicle with bad brakes especially if they have reason to believe there's a brake problem. I'm also a really good driver.
Go back and read what I said....please.
yeah, champ. whatever.
The last full year I was out there, I hit one bumper and a bumper cover in my truck and narrowly avoided six more as well as lots of smaller car parts on the freeways. Listening to KNX 1070 on the internet, there’s always some SIGALERT about a traffic jam caused by some car part that’s fallen off.
Listen to KRLD in Dallas, you’ll almost never hear of that. Pick a Houston, Austin, San Antone, whatever Texas station and you won’t hear it either.
Maybe as a regular motorcycle rider, I notice it more, but believe me, there is no comparing the road debris.
In a way, I wish states had the same inspections on cars that they do on large trucks (semis). I live in California and I see how many Mexican trucks come up in the states and they are inspected by the CHP and many are put out of service. Some of these trucks are being held together by nothing more than duct tape and bailing wire. How many cars do I see going down the road with no tail lights, no head lights (they use their fog lights) and parts literally falling off the cars. I know if the state starting inspecting cars, it would cost more taxpayer money, but sometimes I wish they would do something to the cars and not just us, the big truck drivers.
Yeah, those were the good old days. Like most small business functions, graft has been rolled up into large corporations and the government so that the little guy can't hardly compete.
No I don’t live in Texas. I have relatives there and live slightly north in Oklahoma. I apologize if I misunderstand the Texas situation. I have been involved in and studied inspection programs and am just stating what I’ve seen and learned. As to your other post about random traffic stops, no I do not favor that really. It would be more effective though as many cars are fixed just good enough to pass today, barely.
"Actually, Florida used to have auto and truck inspections, and when I lived there many moons ago, a truck I owned failed the brake test, and on the way home from the inspection station the brakes failed altogether (it was a bad master cylinder)"
All I have/had to go by was you SAID the truck FAILED...the brake test.
But you CHOSE to drive it home anyway....and the brakes went bad. Right? Yes, or no?
Great...you're a good driver.
Me too....We are great!! Yee Haa!!
You can have the last word....cuz,
Wow...Someone could make a fortune selling bumpers....
Just no concern of mine...Don't tail gate, and ya don't hit bumpers, axles, hoods, dogs, couches, people, ladders....
Me, I would have had the thing towed home. But impounding it isn’t exactly legal (though they can call the police and *they* can impound it) - they can also tell you that the thing is unsafe and refuse to let you leave without signing a release.
Texas has a set inspection criteria for brakes. Seems pretty comprehensive to me:
All that for 14.50? OK beleive what you will
I wasn’t tailgating. In fact, both times were late at night or early in the morning and on clear freeways.
And people are making tons of money selling bumpers in CA. In fact, there are companies buying bumpers from junkyards in TX and shipping them to CA.
Most facilities will actually do it. Thing is, they will often find something wrong that more than makes up for the lost time and income, especially on older cars.
It should be mentioned that the person doing the testing is usually not a master mechanic but some young kid making $15/hr who’s been trained by the state.
You had your truck inspected...and they deemed your brakes failed the test. And you fully admit that your brakes failed on the way home...( a master cylinder problem )
But your defense is you think because you are a good driver...all is okay-dokie.
That's great....I'm glad you didn't wreck your truck...or hurt yourself or someone else.
Thats probably true. I agree that happens
Those would from vehicles that were junked, scrapped due to collision damage etc...lol..but few no doubt fell off...Just not a big deal when ya don't tail gate.
Even night on a dark road, your generally going to see a bumper or piece of vehicle laying in the road.
The tail gate gets in trouble when, the vehicle in front sees the hazard, and moves out of the way fast, the tailgater behind generally runs straight over the debris, never having the time to react.... Sucks to be the tailgater.
Does not sound like you watch the inspections in Texas. They can go from just looking at the auto to actually driving it a couple of blocks (very rare). In any case, it does not actually mean an inspection. The most I have ever had is checking the lights and tires (no driving).
It’s all for the money... Actually, for the price they charge, I’m surprised that they do that much...a waste of time for the most part.
Registration is $60 or so per vehicle. Inspection is about $15 for emissions exempt (like Diesels or 25 year old cars) or in emissions exempt counties and about $45 for cars/counties requiring smog testing.
Texas doesn't have "personal Property tax" so there aren't any other real taxes on cars we own (other than toll roads). It's not as cheap as say South Dakota to have a car, but it's still cheaper than most states.
As for the inspections, I've failed twice for Autocross tires on a couple of my race cars. They told me that the tread wasn't deep enough though the tires were DOT approved and new. I maybe drove those cars 100 miles/year on the street on sunny days, but scrounged up a mixed set of wheels and tires to pass inspection, then put the racing tires back on five minutes after I got my sticker.
I might add that the last 5 years of inspections was someone coming out to check the auto registration number and looking at the tires. One did make me buy windshield wipers. That is the extent of my Texas inspections...
Mister, I watch them like a hawk when they’re doing my inspections.
They’re inspecting my Jaguars and my offroader - there is no way I’m going to trust them with those vehicles.
Heh...well, understand that! Down south, they don’t seem to care much about anything except tires and sometimes headlight alignment... Of course, we do not have those kind of cars!
Ask the auto insurers if they can show this cuts premiums... bet they can’t.