Thursday, October 08, 2009

It was my own damn fault

Take a little mental trip with me, won't you?

Its Mon, Sept 28th, and I am basking in the afterglow of Big Ella's 1st car show and all the great gay car guys I met. That evening, without a care in the world, I go for my weekly personal trainer session and Rick tells me he got his car inspected and tags renewed that day.

I think to myself 'Hmmm, I wonder when my car is due for inspection and tag renewal...' I hadn't received anything in the mail about it. So after my workout I look at the sticker on my tag and see Sept 30. Yikes, I have just 2 days to get the car inspected and tags renewed! I know the DMV is going to be crazy, but it was my own damn fault for not being aware.

Normally I try to go to the DMV 1st thing in the morning because its the least busy then. I'm in and out in just a few minutes. The worst time to go is noon (lunchtime), at the end of the month, and an hour before they close. But work was busy on Tues so I was unable to go in the morning. On Wed the DMV is open from 12-8pm, and this particular Wed also just happened to be the last day of the month, so it was the only time I could go.

At 5:00 when I finish work I head to the DMV, a 1/2 hour away. The inspection line is crazy long. Literally 30-40 cars in front of me, so I know its going to be awhile. It took a full hour before my car was inspected so I didn't keep the engine running. I started it up to move up the line and turned it off again. Why would I let the engine run for an hour and waste gas?

My car fails for 2 things: a parking light that was out and emissions. Damn!

I go inside the DMV and wait 45 minutes until my number is called, then hand my rejection to the clerk. I'm informed that I can only drive my car to a garage to be fixed and back to the DMV. I want to scream because my car is not in that bad of shape. I see people driving around in 20+ year old jalopies with broken tail lights and hoopdies with missing mirrors, spewing black smoke from their rusted-out mufflers. But my car fails for a parking light and emissions. How do they get away with this?

On the drive back home I think about how much it will cost to have a garage diagnose the reason(s) my car's emissions were too rich and fix it. Then I begin to think that maybe this is the time to get rid of my 15 year old car. Maybe I should just trade it in on something newer, in better condition, and is already inspected.

But then I think about taking money out of savings to pay for the newer car, or (gasp!) making payments for years and years. Neither is a happy thought. Besides, I know its 'old' but I still like my 1994 BMW 325i convertible. And for the little amount of driving I do in it since I don't commute to work, its just fine with me, so I scrap the trade-in idea.

I mention the inspection failure to Nick and he suggests that my turning off the engine while waiting an hour for the inspection is the reason it failed the emissions test. He asks me when was the last oil change, and I tell him about 5k miles ago. He suggests having the oil changed, adding a bottle of octane boost to the gasoline, and getting re-inspected while the engine is still warm.

So yesterday during my lunch break I did just that. I got the oil changed at Jiffy Lube and had them replace the burned out parking light bulb too. Then after work I poured in a bottle of the octane boost and ran her over to the DMV. There were 2 cars in front of me. I left the engine running and in 10 minutes my car was re-inspected and passed!

I still had to spend 35 minutes inside the DMV waiting for my number to be called, but at least I was waiting with confidence! I got my renewal sticker and stuck it on my tag, happy as a clam, knowing my 'old' car was safe for the next 2 years.

By the way, since the DMV does not send out renewal notices via regular mail, I have signed up for their email notification for all 3 vehicles. I do not want to have to repeat this situation again!

Crush du Jour: Sam Jaeger


Larry Ohio said...

I'm glad Nick gave you those pointers and everything worked out for you.

Thankfully the people of Ohio voted to abolish emissions testing long ago, but not until after the state spent millions on fancy emissions testing centers in every county.

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Anonymous said...

In RI inspection is separated from registration.

All new cars can go two years before their first inspection. Then it's every two years after that.

The inspections used to be heavily safety oriented, now it's cursory safety and heavy on emissions.

Also used to be that cops could issue 5 Day tags for safety. Now they can't.

That said, you can also get emission waivers if the car is older than a certain age. I believe it may be 15 so your car would have been waivered.

Java said...

What a pain in the arse. I haven't lived in a state that required inspection since before I was old enough to drive. Tax and registration is plenty enough grief, though.

How cool that the fix was so simple! Thanks Nick!

Brent said...

Thanks for sharing your "fix"; I'm going to try and file that away in case of future need. It would never have occurred to me that stopping and starting like that would enrich the emissions. Glad things worked out, and that you get to duck car payments for a while longer.