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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Passing Inspection with the VW

Passing Inspection with the VW


A recent post by mimi @ is responsible for this story.  Go complain to her if it is boring.

Years ago in New Jersey getting your car inspected was a royal pain.  Inspection was every year.  Today inspection is every other year or five years for a new car.  Today to pass inspection your car has to run, stop and turn.  Your arrival at the inspection station pretty much verifies that your car can run, stop and turn.  The only thing they really check anymore is your emissions.  Too much carbon in the exhaust and you fail, otherwise you are good to go.  Inspection now is kind of like summer school…almost everyone passes with very little effort.

Inspection did not use to be so simple.  First you had the lines waiting to get inspected.  On the weekend, pretty much the only opportunity I had to go, the wait could be one or even two hours.  To pass they checked your tires, your brakes, headlight alignment, horn and windshield wipers.  If you had a tiny windshield crack you failed.  Bad failed.  Funky turn signal…fail. If your muffler was too noisy you got the red sticker of shame.  The whole inspection process took over twenty minutes. 

At each testing station the DMV dude would punch a bunch of holes in a ticket and you could not tell if they were good punches or bad punches.  The DMV dude never said a word.  When you reached the end of the line, a stone-faced d-bag came out of a little booth, scrapped off you old sticker, went back to his booth and returned with a new sticker.  He then slapped it on your window.  If it was red you got a short description of why you failed.

“Headlight and wiper blades.”

Questions were not welcome.

The grand daddy of all reasons to fail was the emissions test.  Not so hard in today’s cars with improved engines and computer timing, but some of those old cars smoked like an Alaskan crab fisherman.

I had a 1968 VW bug that almost never passed inspection.  The simple stuff I could fix myself, those bugs were like that, but emissions was another story.  My bug needed new rings and a valve job which I could not afford, and in my opinion it didn’t really need that work.  The car did not smoke, and it ran like a top, plus I only drove it to the train station and back, maybe ten miles a day.  The $500 engine fix required to pass inspection was not in my wallets wheelhouse.

My mechanic whom I have spoken about before had an answer.

“Yeah, I could fix it up to run nice and clean, not much better, but clean.  Cost you a lot.  Or you could just blow it out.”


“You only drive this thing to the station and back, never get it up over 40 mph right?”


“Before you go to the inspection station take her out on the highway.  Punch her as hard as you can.  Seventy MPH for ten miles, then seventy MPH back.  Let that engine get really hot, blow all the bad shit right out of her, and then take her directly to the inspection station.  Go on as slow a day as possible.”

This worked like a charm and got me passed the emission test.  Blowing out the engine became a yearly ritual until I could afford to get a proper engine job.  

If the Earth’s temperature is rising, I might be partly to blame.


  1. Interesting subject. I've heard about the auto inspections but we don't have them in Montana. My work truck (gardening) would never pass and yet I drive it all around town when it isn't snowing.

  2. Your old test sounds far more like the MoT (Ministry of Transport) test here in England which every car more than 3 years old has to have every year. Without it you can't tax or insure your car. Tax is also dependent on your car emissions and can be anything from hundreds of pounds to zero (unless you have an older car which is tax exempt which your bug probably would have been)

  3. We don't have compulsory inspections here in Australia. If we did I'm sure 75% of cars wouldn't pass. Instead we have coppers who randomly book vehicles for itty bitty faults whenever their "catch" quotas fall short. The fines are huge.

  4. That's one way to get passed! Our inspections include most of the things you mentioned -- wipers, lights, brakes, tires, and emissions. Plus the front windows have to go up and down easily. You can have cracks or dings in the front window, but they cannot block your line of sight, and that's up to the inspector to determine.

    If the check engine light comes on for any reason, you fail until you get it taken care of, and you only have ten days. If their computer shows your check engine light has been on within the past 50 miles, even if you've had it repaired, you have to drive it around until it's been 50 miles.

    It's why those of us with older vehicles sweat it out.

    Thanks for the mention, i really do appreciate it.

  5. I know a young woman who made a professional muffler hanging thingy from a coat hanger. Passed inspection. Ours are much easier in Ohio than they used to be. I used to cringe for my car when they put it in neutral and spun the tires on that thing in the floor until the engine screamed for mercy. Especially my turbo, dual exhaust Chrysler. I left the building.

  6. We are all partly to blame...intentionally or unintentionally.

  7. how interesting! glad it worked for you! we still have that process yearly here in texas and they do the whole shebang. about the only thing they don't worry about is a crack in the windshield - as long as it is below your field of vision. all the rest is tested. they just switched to a two-step, one-sticker process in which you have to get your car inspected prior to renewing your registration. they put you in the computer but don't give you a sticker until you register. then, when you register and they can see it passed inspection, they'll renew your registration and give you a sticker that denotes both.

  8. Oh my, I had forgotten all about "blowing out" an engine. We use to do that periodically or maybe it was just an excuse to speed.
    Wish we had inspections here. Not a complete muffler in town. Almost need to wear a mask sitting on the porch.

  9. I remember rigging a muffler using tin cans and coat hangers in high school. Man that muffler was so loud.

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    M is for Movies

  10. Our son told us that trick about "blowing out" the bad stuff. Here in Oregon we have the DEQ ( Dept. of Environmental Quality) a scam if you ask me. This fee does nothing to preserve clean air. As a matter of fact, if you car is thirty years old and smokes like an Alaskan fisherman (I like that simile) it doesn't even need to go through DEQ.

  11. I sweated over many an auto inspection when we were poor college students and drove decrepit cars. Florida got rid of the inspections just when I started buying new cars.

  12. Bwahahahahahahahaha. I remember this exact same thing. The exact same thing. It worked too.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  13. LOL; this is what we did when we lived in California and had to get smog checked every 2 years. If we weren't sure of the car passing, hubby or son would take it for a long ride on the freeway at high speeds and then immediately to the inspection center. Usually passed :) Here where I live now we don't have to get it smog checked, but in Phoenix and Tucson I understand one must if their car is a certain age or older.


  14. Illinois did emission resting. I never thought about it until just now. Michigan does not. Don't know why. We recycle.

  15. That whole inspection thing sounds as scary as trying to buy lobster bisque at a New York soup stand. Bet they forgot your bread, too.

  16. I remember the inspections from New York. They don't have them in South Carolina, where we used to live, nor in Florida, where we live now.

    A co-worker said the whole inspection thing (when they used to have them in South Carolina) was "stupid." A bunch of high school kids would swap out their tires just for the inspection, and afterwards put their regular tires back on.

  17. In Canada, at least the part where I live, vehicle inspections are done by mechanics at garages authorized to do them, so you need to make an appointment, although you can get your other maintenance done at the same appointment if you like, so it's not a separate trip. It's interesting to learn how it's done elsewhere.