So, last week the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission announced some anticipated changes to our required car inspection process, and it’s not all good news. In fact, one could argue (and I will) that none of it is good news at all.
You may remember that in 2010 the MVC made huge changes to inspection requirements, restricting inspections merely to emissions testing only. This eliminated the safety and mechanical check that helped protect motorists from unsafe vehicles and alert them to needed repairs. The arguable silver lining of that announcement was a shift to inspections from yearly to every two years. The issue I take with the 2010 change is on two fronts: 1) all the licensed re-inspectors had paid for costly equipment to meet the pre-2010 requirements that were now eliminated – shafting those private business owners and 2) vehicle registration fees DID NOT DROP in cost even though these changes lessened the volume and overhead for the state. Funny how New Jersey managed to stick it to the little guy on every front there, huh?
With these new proposed changes, expected to be effective May 1st of this year, we see a new crop of poor decisions. And, again, the motorists are getting a raw deal.
Firstly, the MVC plans to institute a passenger vehicle only initial inspection at state-run facilities, forcing commercial vehicles to get all inspections privately. More on the problem with private inspections in a moment, but let’s focus on commercial vehicles. This change will mean that the commercial vehicles we share the road with will NEVER be inspected by state facilities and are more open to the inevitable mismanagement of privatization (e.g. erroneous, incomplete, fraudulent inspections.) And the MVC is being disingenuous when it implies that the current inspection stations are ‘state-run,’ as they are a private company paid contractually by the state.
Secondly, any subsequent re-inspections on passenger vehicles will all be funneled to private inspection facilities licensed by the state. Now, this is the same segment of the business population that merely 6 years earlier got sandbagged by the MVC. Is this about-face a belated apology? Who knows? But what I do know is that it costs MONEY to get a private inspection at a licensed facility. So, the MVC is making us pay twice; both for annual registration renewal (at $60 a pop) and again for your inspection sticker. It should also be pointed out that the MVC is sending us motorists to mechanical repair facilities for these inspections – you know, places that have a financial motive to fail vehicles in the hopes of securing repair business from the customer. I’m not saying that all these facilities would engage in this nefarious behavior, but the MVC has certainly given them an opportunity to consider it.
Lastly, model years that are from 1995 and older are not required to have inspections at all. Granted, this is the lesser of my gripes, but one that still holds some merit. I’ll concede that there are far fewer 1995 and older vehicles haunting our roadways, but those that do are putting out far worse emissions than their younger brethren. So, if the goal of these emission-only inspections is to adhere to a clean air mantra how can the MVC reconcile old, oil burning, carbon coughing jalopies getting away scot-free? I have no idea, but I’m not the only person complaining. Environmental advocates are making their voices heard, too.
I don’t know if this MVC inspection proposal will become a full reality on May 1st, but I hope it doesn’t. As a life-long resident of New Jersey, I’ve yet to see the cost of registration and renewal go down with any of the MVC’s ‘cost saving’ measures, and this new proposal is no different. We’ll still be paying. And paying…and paying…
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