QOTD: Are State Vehicle Inspections Necessary?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Last week we brought you the news that Texas is fixin' to possibly eliminate state inspections of non-commercial vehicles.

I share Matt Guy's mixed take on vehicle inspections:

Removing the need for yearly vehicle inspections is a thorny topic. One side claims the requirement is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show, one which can take uninformed motorists for an expensive ride if unscrupulous individuals demand compliance repairs which aren’t actually needed. On the other side of the fence, images are brought forth of clapped-out and unsafe vehicles becoming a menace on our roads.

As a resident of Illinois, which requires emissions inspections but not safety, I'm not sure our lack of safety inspections is adding to vehicular carnage, though I do often see cars on the road that probably wouldn't pass a state inspection. During my time in the dealer service world, we did tell those who had bald tires that if they were below 4/32, it was against state law. We used truth as a sales tactic based on fear.

My ladyfriend lived in Maryland briefly, and it was weird to me that she had to have her car inspected -- and some minor things needed to be addressed. Did I feel safer knowing that locals were having their rides checked for problems every so often? Well, no, but Maryland drivers...

So, are safety inspections necessary, or just a way for mechanics to make more money by taking advantage of state law -- sometimes unscrupulously?

Sound off below.

[Image: Gestalt Imagery/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 59 comments
  • Bill Bill on Jun 07, 2023

    80% of people do not know how to or check the condition/ status of air pressure in thier tires let alone the condition of thier tires. Periodic safety inspections ensures vehicle are safe to be on the roads. I sure would like to be confident the vehicles around me are safe because they passed a objective inspection. The cause for suspicion in the US is most safety inspection programs are subjective and do not use technology to make the determination if the vehicle is safe or not. Countries that that use technology for annual vehicle inspections have a fairly high failure rate. I live in California a state without safety inspections and the freeways are litter ed with tire fragments and parts of cars. Every time it rains the roads are congested from accidents. Instagram is full of videos of vehicles with the wheels coming of while driving on the freeway. Just hope you won't be on of the casualties that could have been prevented if the vehicle owner had spend $7-$20 for a periodic safety inspection.

  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Jun 07, 2023

    Florida gets along just fine without vehicle inspections.

    Meanwhile NJ doesn't let their residents pump their own gas.

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Jun 07, 2023

    When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.

    However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.

    Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.

    Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.

    What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jun 09, 2023

    I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.