Our State of Inspection
Written by Dave McCracken; March 8, 2012 Share
We deal with quite a few state inspection failures pertaining to OBDII or “Check Engine Light” faults. They typically originate from cold calls since Bob is one of the certified emissions technicians listed in the State of Delaware’s Vehicle Inspection Program Brochure provided to those that fail the OBDII test. Occasionally, we have a vehicle come into our shop for OBDII repair that are in need of a safety related repair that was missed or overlooked during the initial inspection process. Yesterday, March 7, 2012, we experienced our worse case of ignorance, incompetence or blatant disregard for the safety of the general motoring public.
The vehicle was a 1998 Nissan Maxima with 234,299 miles on the odometer. According to the Vehicle Inspection Report, the initial date of inspection was January 3, 2012 with an odometer reading of 232,225 miles. The inspection report we received was printed after the 4th test and a 30 day temporary tag was issued on February 3, 2012. The report listed 6 different OBDII faults that required repair prior to any further DMV tests being performed.
Upon driving the car into one of our service bays, I noticed some irregularity in the front end when braking along with an obvious exhaust leak. Wanting to know more about what was occurring, I lifted the car in the air to do a visual inspection of the various steering, suspension, brake and exhaust components. The following pictures support my findings. For greater detail, click on each picture.
Right Front Tire Left Front Tire
Besides the obvious front tires that were worn to the point of showing the inner steel belts, I checked the front end components worn parts. The right lower ball joint was about to separate from the control arm. Both outer constant velocity joint boots were damaged and had been for some time due to the lack of any evidence of lubricating grease. Moving to the exhaust, I found the front exhaust pipe leaking at the flex joint and the rear muffler was no longer connected to the rest of the system. After making notes of these obvious faults on the customers work order, I walked past the front of the car, when something caught my eye.
Engine- Trans Support
The engine and transmission support cross member was no longer attached at the front of the vehicles uni-body framework due to heavy rust degradation. At this point it was time to call the customer and inform her of my numerous frightful findings.
While explaining in detail all of the safety related items with the owner of the car, I also mentioned that if I had the legal right to do so, I would prevent her from driving the car off of our property due to the unsafe condition of the car. To help her further understand my perspective and the severity of the problems she was faced with, I offered to leave the car up on the lift until she could come to the shop to see first hand what my concerns were.
The owner of the car arrived at the shop along with her daughter and a relative who was mechanically knowledgeable. I pointed out each safety deficiency and the associated danger. Her relative supported everything I conveyed. We both reiterated the potential danger that existed numerous times in an attempt to convince her not to drive the car. All of which was to no avail, she just wanted her car to pass inspection. What was equally disturbing was when she mentioned that the DMV inspector told her he would disregard the rear muffler issue along with the right side view mirror that was missing provided she had the OBDII faults repaired.
After all was said and clearly illustrated with respect to her personal safety and the general motoring public’s safety, I had no other option but to release the vehicle to her. I finalized the repair order documenting the safety assessment I had performed and the results at no charge to the customer. I then typed “THIS VEHICLE IS UNSAFE TO BE DRIVEN” on the repair order and had the customer sign after reviewing it before handing her the keys and watch her drive down the road.
The vehicle referenced was in such disrepair, it holds the potential to cause a serious accident anytime it is driven, putting her, my family and your family at risk. One of the front tires could blow out or the right lower ball joint could separate causing loss of control of the vehicle. The exhaust leaks could potentially cause the driver to pass out from carbon monoxide poisoning. We are all put in jeopardy because the emphasis of our vehicle inspection program is focused on emissions to maintain our Federal highway funds. We need to improve the vehicle safety aspect of the inspection program in the State of Delaware starting with the accountability of each inspector.