Why Don’t All States Have Vehicle Inspections?

If you drive an older car or haven’t kept up with your maintenance, a vehicle inspection can be an expensive proposition. In many states, you can’t renew your car’s registration or legally drive it in the state if it doesn’t pass its inspection. What are the pros and cons of vehicles inspections, and if they’re so useful, why don’t all states have them?

Pros of Vehicle Inspections

Many industry experts argue that vehicle inspections are a necessary tool to ensure driver safety, and in some cases they are correct. The benefits of annual or biannual vehicle inspections include:

  • Emissions: Many of the states that have inspections only focus on a car’s emissions to keep the local smog levels down.
  • State Income: The fees collected by the vehicle inspectors are contributed directly to the state’s annual budget.
  • Economy Booster: Some local mechanics and car repair places love inspections, because car owners spend extra money every year to get their car ready to pass the inspection. However, others are worried that they might be liable for accidents when wrongly approving broken cars.
  • Public Safety: One of the biggest arguments for annual vehicle inspections is that it keeps rusty or poorly maintained cars off the road. In some states, you need to have any rust on your car repaired before you get your car inspected. Rusty cars simply won’t pass. Experts claim that the metal is weaker and could be unsafe during a crash.

Cons of Vehicle Inspections

In spite of the obvious pros, many state officials are starting to question the benefits of mandated vehicle inspections. Legislators in Mississippi, for example, have started working on a bill that would completely eliminate the requirement for vehicle inspections within the state. Here’s why:

  • It’s detrimental to low income families: There has not been any research to support this particular con, but some experts have suggested that the cost of vehicle inspections and subsequent repairs on vehicles could be detrimental to lower income families because they’re the ones driving older cars.
  • It’s outdated and inefficient: New cars are much more efficient and reliable than older models, reducing the need for inspections.
  • It’s subject to bribery: Inspectors are, after all, only human. If you look at any forum post or comment’s section that refers to vehicle inspections, you’ll constantly find references to officials that can be bribed in exchange for a passing score.
  • You never know how accurate they are: Two scenarios come to mind. In the first, you take your car in right before closing time. The tired mechanic puts it in his shop, glances over it without opening the hood, checks “approved” and heads home for the day. This might be nice for your pocketbook, but not when it breaks down because something wasn’t spotted. In the second scenario, the mechanic is exceptionally harsh in his review, pointing out flaws that can conveniently be fixed at his own shop, for a price. And don’t forget, if you don’t fix them, you fail inspection. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Why Don’t All States Have Inspections?

Many states have passed legislation to remove the requirements for inspection. Florida, for example, required emissions testing in major cities like Miami and Tampa until 1990, until then-governor Jeb Bush eliminated the program because of the cost to the state, and the fact that the state of Florida at the time had met Federal air quality standards.

The decision to implement or stop vehicle inspections falls to the individual states. With the growing concern about climate change, we may find that more states start implementing emissions inspections to reduce the amount of vehicle emissions released into the atmosphere by the millions of cars on the road today. As for mechanical inspections, we’ll have to wait and see.

Are you in favor or against mandatory vehicle inspections? Let us know in the comments!

Scott Huntington, an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania has his own blog called Off the Throttle and feel welcome to follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.

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