Think it's hard to have your brake lights double-checked? Wait until you see what a car inspection is like in Japan.
Japan has one particularity when it comes to cars... They can cost quite a bit to own. One of the reasons for that is the "shaken" (safety and emission check) that takes place every two years for all cars in circulation in Japan. It can sometimes cost over 2000$ depending on your car and how you chose to have your shaken done.
September is the time for my mother-in-law's Toyota Passo to pass it, so, with my father-in-law, we both went to the local inspection center. First thing I notice was that the owner of the place and my FIL apparently knew each other for quite some time. They started joking almost right away and the shop owner straight-up told him that those 195mm tires that are 7mm outside the wheel-well won't do it. My FIL tried to negociate, but that was a no-go so we went back home to pick a set of 155mm Blizzak winter tires to be put on the car even though it's over 30 degrees Celsius outside. Yup, according to Japan's law, it's actually much safer to drive on small winter tires in the middle of the summer than to have slightly bigger wheels that reach 7mm outside the wheel arches... Anyway...
We come back and finally the shaken can start.
1 - The 40km/h test. A mech gets inside the car and drives it on a roller at 40km/h according to the speedometer. A margin of error is allowed but overall it has to be somewhat precise. No idea what the error margin is though...
2 - Emission test came just after. Cars under 10 years old have to emit less than 1% of carbon monoxyde and no more than 300ppm of unburned hydrocarbon. Cars older than 10 years old are allowed 4.5% of CO and 1200ppm. No idea about the PPMs but the Passo ended up with 0.1% of CO. Not really any problem at all...
3 - Then came the braking test. Not sure how that works as the car carries no speed in the shop, but it's tested there again on the roller, front and rear brakes. They roll on it, brake, it seems to work ok it's fine.
4 - After that is the lights test, they check all the blinkers/lights and properly setup the X-ing beams and full beams with a machine.
(yup, those wheels are illegal in Japan lol)
5 - They get the car up (change the tires for those MUCH safer 155mm bicyl... Blizzaks) and check underneath the car for any leak or dangerous rust. Then they look at the bushings and control arm and finish by knocking on every part of the chassis/drive-train with a little hammer in hope of finding something that vibrates, requiring to be fixed. Nope, no chance there, everything was fine.
6 - They check the gearbox and engine oil and change it if necessary.
And well, that's it. Total cost for it, without requiring the assistance of a company that does it for you (Japanese people rarely deal with that kind of stuff themselves, they pay someone to do it for them), was 67000 Yen or about 700US$. That for a 1.3L "medium sized" car. Keep in mind that this include some licensing fees and also part of the car insurance (another insurance, costing usually between 400 and 1000$ a year is needed as the shaken does not cover much more than the damages you may cause to a person and not to a building/anything else). Depending on the car and the engine, it usually costs no more than 1000$. If you try to Shaken your Cadillac Escalade, I don't know though... it might be a bit more than that :)
If like most Japanese you choose not to bring your car yourself, costs can easily go over 1500$ though as these companies doing it for you are rather greedy and won't hesitate to charge you A LOT for what is, in reality, nothing much at all. It took about 1h of our time to do it... Not counting the 20 extra minutes to change the tires AGAIN, with the summer tires rejected at the inspection of course :)
Bonus Quizz: What does a Toyota Passo and a Mustang Boss 302 have in common??
Live rear axle!!! :) (blurry pic sorry)