inspections January 14, 2018

Inspection Time Again!

The Earth has completed another 550 million mile lap around the sun. That means it is once again time for your car’s annual Virginia Safety Inspection (sigh). It’s probably not the thrill of your life to have someone picking over your car looking for problems. On the other hand, wouldn’t you rather know?

Every year our building gets inspected by the Fire Marshall in order to maintain the permit to keep the business open. I do the walk-through with her and am always surprised by the number of adjustments (however small) that are needed. A barely-frayed power cable, a missing electrical cover plate, a tire stored too close to the sprinkler heads, an outdated tag on the sprinkler system – all involving time and money to fix. But as I grumble through the list and sign the paper promising to fix these issues in a reasonable time frame, I begin to admit it’s better to know about and correct a problem than to live life in a bubble of ignorance and bliss. Now about your car…

Most cars that come through our shop pass their safety inspection. Probably on the order of four out of five. Of those that fail, half involve simple low-cost problems (windshield wipers or various exterior lights). Of the more serious failures, tires and brakes make up the lion’s share, with assorted steering, suspension, and exhaust problems filling out the rest. Wouldn’t you want to know about those things?

I think I am a typical Northern Virginia resident. Up at a few minutes before 6:00 a.m., down some coffee, walk the dogs, in the car by 6:40, rat race up the George Washington Parkway to drop my son off at school by 7:00, back home, eat breakfast, change for work, and back down Route 1 onto the Fairfax County Parkway and over to Burke in slightly over ½ hour. My car works hard, my tires work hard, and my brakes work hard.

There’s a lot of crazy maneuvering going on out there. People think nothing of left-turning in front of you at 15 mph when you’re barreling along at the maximum speed permitted by rush-hour traffic. Braking and swerving to avoid trouble are all part of the daily run.

Yes, we should all drive a little slower and a little more carefully, but life doesn’t always seem to allow for that. And in winter, a dim light or a light out can be the difference between seeing and being seen. A bad wiper can make driving in the rain stressful enough to cause a migraine headache.

I have studied the Virginia Safety Inspection regimen. Every part of it makes sense. If anything, it is far too lenient. So no, I don’t expect anyone to jump with joy at the thought of a Virginia Safety Inspection requirement. But doesn’t it make you feel better that all those other cars in traffic with you have been inspected – and passed?

Have a question about the Virginia inspection? Feel free to call us or just stop by.

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