Mississippi just got rid of them. Florida, Alabama, Hawaii and many others don’t require a state vehicle inspection either. Does this make sense? Is it safe? How does this affect you if you’re looking to buy a used car? Let’s find out more.
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Reasons For The Change
One of the main reasons that states are looking into getting rid of car inspections is cost. The cost of the inspection sticker may not cover the work required for a complete inspection. Also, if a mechanic only gets paid a small amount from the inspection cost, how motivated will they be to do a thorough job?
Other opponents claim that very little improvement in safety comes from required inspections. The majority of accidents nationwide are due to driver error. Today’s vehicles are more reliable and safer than ever which makes state inspections even harder to justify.
Is It Safe?
Opponents of getting rid of inspections site safety as their prime concern. Mississippi State Senator Billy Hudson said, “I don’t care if we are losing money on it or making money. It’s a public safety issue.”
In 2009 a report by Cambridge Systematics Inc., commissioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, came to this conclusion: “The results of the research clearly demonstrate that the Vehicle Safety Inspection program in Pennsylvania is effective and saves lives.”
However, other evidence suggests that state inspections may actually increase accidents. When a car passes inspection, drivers might take more risks due to a false sense of security. In Nebraska, the accident rate decreased when the vehicle inspection program was abandoned.
State inspections not only vary by how the cars are inspected, but also by inspection frequency. Some states require yearly inspections and others every two years. In Maryland, a safety inspection is required only when a vehicle is sold or transferred.
Some states require emissions but not safety testing. Still, others, like North Dakota, require no safety or emissions testing for vehicles registered in the state.
For The Used Car Buyer
In states where inspections are mandatory, a valid inspection sticker provides the used car buyer with some reassurance. However, the depth and quality of state inspections varies widely. Plus, state inspections don’t evaluate things like prior body damage or the car interior.
Third Party Inspections
Vehicle inspection services, like those from CARCHEX, can send out a qualified vehicle inspector to evaluate any car in the country. These are not the same as state inspections, but rather they are used to evaluate the condition of any car.
This service is useful to used car buyers who might not be able to see the car first hand. Or those who value an experienced set of eyes that might pick up hidden defects. A full inspection list helps assure used car buyers that a complete visual evaluation of the car has been completed.
The Jury’s Out
For now, states continue to have differing regulations on car inspections. Opinions might vary, but nobody will ever argue against checking out a used car thoroughly before purchasing.