Getting my car inspected in Texas has always been a breeze, but it sounds like some of you folks have had one hell of a time, based on the car inspection horror stories you’ve shared.
From a service manager hunting for problems to fake-ass failures, these are the best of the worst.
Early 1980s, I find a 1973 BMW 2002 for sale for the astonishing low price of $1900. I’ve been saving up for almost a year to replace the POS Pontiac Ventura I had been driving, and the 2002 seems like the perfect mix of sportiness, practicality and fuel economy that a fresh-from-college individual like myself needs.
Talk to the owner, he’s eager to sell. I give the car the once over and aside from a little rust in the rear fenders, all looks good. However, I’m a little wary since I know absolutely zip about BMWs.
So I call my father, he recommends a mechanic-buddy of his.
Owner and I drive the car to the mechanic’s shop and I ask the guy to inspect the car and call me with what he finds.
A few hours later, I get a call from the mechanic with a laundry list of things that are wrong with the car. Severe rust, worn this, broken that, etc.
I call the owner, tell him ‘no thanks’, and count myself lucky that I’m out only $65 for the inspection and a few hours of my time.
A few weeks later, I stop by the mechanic’s shop again to ask about inspecting another car, when I spot a green BMW 2002 on the side of the shop with a new inspection sticker. The mechanic (a friend of my dad’s no less) bought the car from under me -AND- pocketed the $65.00 I paid him to inspect the car.
Called my father, my father called his buddy and gave him an earful. I get a phone call the next day apologizing for the ‘misunderstanding’ and a few days later a check in the mail for $65.00 and a letter offering a free oil change.
Needless to say, I never went back to that shop.
What an asshole.
Shared by: Earthbound Misfit I
PA inspection is a nightmare
One year after we got my wife’s car we took it in for inspection at the local Jeep dealer since we got a freebie when we bought the car. Get a call from the dealer, front brakes are shot pads and rotors and it’s gonna be 400 bucks to replace, no thanks I will do it myself.
Get the car back, get the parts pull everything apart, pads where half worn and the rotors where fine even had a mechanic friend verify that I wasn’t crazy.
Called the dealer back, I can drop it off but we are super busy today and might not get to it for a few days, call again a few days laters same excuse. Spent a month trying to get a appointment to no luck, wife calls and gets a appointment for the next day. Take the Jeep back and it passes and they tried to charge me saying that they did the free inspection and it failed. Had a chat with the service and dealer manager and got it free and haven’t been back to that dealer
Imagine using a state-mandated inspection to try to squeeze more money out of people. Gross.
Shared by: Nathan Leschinsky via Facebook
Canada here. You have to get an inspection (call safety) to sell your car. In my case, I was buying my OWN leased Golf GTI from VW finance. (And yes you have to “safety” as they call it even if you buy your own lease, call it a money grab).
My regular VW dealership was not available so I brought it to another VW dealership in the GTA (ontario). They refused initially to give me the safety/pass the inspection because of a wheel being bent. I asked to see in person, the wheel was barely bent (on the inside when turning the wheel, no sign of bent/impact on the alloy wheel by itself) and you could not feel it while driving. They asked for $650 for a replacement. I told them I would bring my car somewhere else to get it safety as it did not pose a risk (which is the reason for this safety certification) and they were trying to grab some money from me. We found a compromise on putting my winter wheels on to repass the Safety (it was nov). Which it passes... I just had to pay for switching the tires.
I met the mechanics afterwards randomly in the dealership and questioned him. He told me the bent was not an issue but he was told to find something on the car. This dealership is dead to me
Man, there were so many stories this week about mechanics and dealerships having to find something wrong with your car. Jesus. Reminds me of the time a shop quoted me $150 per tire for a rotation.
Shared by: Fracan
Portsmouth, NH, Pep Boys, ~2004. My 88 4runner with less than 90k miles goes in for annual state inspection (because the Pep Boys is next door to the Home Depot where I worked at the time). Fails for “parking brake function” and “rear brakes out of specification. Please spend $800 right now for ALL NEW rear brakes on your $2,500 car!” The parking brake was legit. One of the lever arms was seized, but I fixed it myself for less than $100 in parts.
“Rear brakes out of specification” got fun. I brought it back after fixing the parking brake and they tried to tell me the rear “rotors” were too small. It has rear drums, and they measured nearly new (which would be “smaller” than the minimum specification), as did the shoes.
At this point I tried to get it inspected elsewhere, but somehow the other shop sees the fail at Pep Boys in the computer and doesn’t want to touch it.
Back to Manny, Moe, and Jack, this time with the state inspection requirements printed out, with the State Police inspection phone number on the printout.
This time, “hot spots” on the drums...funny, you said it had it had rotors last time. I tell the service manager, “How about I call the State Police and they can have a look?”
Service manager to tech: “Put a sticker on it.”
A good threat well-used can be the secret to securing your sticker.
Shared by: Andrew Steere via Facebook
I grew up in MA, here are some of my favorite rejections i got:
First car i ever took in, my moms CRV, they failed me on out of alignment headlights and not evenly worn tires (the tires had well over the tread limit, but yes technically were not even)
My first car ever failed for a hole in the front bumper. I was told it was due to pedestrian safety
My wifes TJ wrangler failed because the center mirror wasn’t attached
Failed because a fog light was out. I know multiple people who just cover the fog lights in MA instead of replacing the bulbs or housings
My WRX failed for having an “altered height” like 1 inch lower than stock
Ive had several motorcycles fail because they didnt have OEM reflectors. Id love someone to find me a used bike with OEM reflectors on it.
I have always had sport bikes, and ive gone into inspections right after straight piped Harleys with a quite after market exhaust and failed (the only inspection shops near me for bikes are... Harley dealers :) )
Had another bike fail because he didnt like the hardware i used to mount my plate. He then offered to charge me like 5$ to replace it and pass the bike, i left, came back a few days later, and it passed with someone else.
I once passed inspection on my Mazdaspeed3, stock everything more or less, then got pulled over, ticketed, and had 3 points added to my license because of a too loud exhaust... on a stock car.... This is part of the inspection process, when i tried telling the officer he said “i dont know what that means”Rear seatbelts didnt work in my TJ wrangler, so instead of fixing them, i pulled the seats out and they passed me.
After a while i just stopped inspecting my cars and bikes. MA makes it so hard for anything used to pass. It totally screws low income people too.
Although, MA is one of the few inspection states that wont pull a registration from a non inspected car.... but it is 3 points if you get caught... (ask me how i know that one)
I’ve heard so many horror stories with bikes before.
Shared by: ThatGuyWhoBuysUnreliableCrap
Easy... My car’s breaks were recently done. A month later I went to a local tire shop to get my car inspected. The service manager came to the waiting room and informed me my car would not pass inspection and would need a break job. I said... First, could I get something out of my glove box first. He said sure.... I then showed him the receipt that all 4 breaks were done a month ago.
I wish I could have seen the service manager’s face.
Shared by: Tom Edwards via Facebook
I took a minvan in for a safety inspection, and they failed it because the driver’s window wouldn’t roll down.
They quoted several hundred dollars for the repair, and I initially agreed.
But I had plenty of time in the waiting room, and a suspicion that there was no requirement that the window roll down. So I pulled up the safety inspection regulations, and found that they were pulling a fast one on me.
I called the manager up to the service desk, and told him to put my car back together without fixing it, because the window wasn’t part of the safety inspection. Another customer overheard me, so I had a fun time reading him the regulations from my phone, and generally revealing his dishonesty.
But he wouldn’t relent. He kept trying to charge me for the window repair, so I started to call the police. Then he gave up and put my car back together with no charge.
Always double-check your state’s inspection regulations — especially when you get quoted an exorbitant price for a repair.
Shared by: Mr_Elliott_Man
Well, more about what happened after the inspection, but I had a new-to-me Land Rover LR4 inspected at a reputable LR specialty shop. This is what followed:
Story - I purchased a 2014 LR4 with 111k miles for 21k in April 2021. Had all the options I wanted including the rear locker, and cosmetically/mechanically in great shape according to the inspection.
Weeks later, in June 2021, my 2014 LR4's engine catastrophically failed on the highway (timing chain slipped) and needed to be replaced. It was in the shop for 6 months and the total replacement cost with labor ended up being $22,500.
I received the LR4 back 3 weeks ago and started to notice a grinding sound after a trip into the mountains. I immediately took it back to the shop. After a diagnosis, it will need a new transmission. Fully rebuilt this is $9,000 with parts and labor.
Total first year maintenance costs are at ~$32,400. I’ve owned a Disco2 in the past and have always stood by the brand, but this has been tough to swallow.
Shared by: BKCO
any time I let my wife take the car to get inspected.
she must have an “I’m Gullible” sign tattooed on her forehead or something because I always get a panicked call from her in the middle of the inspection about how the mechanic says we need $4k worth of work to pass inspection.
I get on the phone let the mechanic give his schpiel and say “no, put the sticker on the car and take your $50” and they pass the car, she pays the $50 and we never go back there and I warn people that they try to take advantage of women who don’t know cars..
fuck all mechanics who see a woman in the waiting room and try to take advantage of her.
I hear these stories all the time, and I hate it. The number of times mechanics have tried to pull this on me is astounding, and I just laugh my way home.
Shared by: Toobs-n-stuff
I live in Florida, a state without safety or emissions testing.
I think we can all agree that simply living in Florida is a fate far worse than any emissions test.
I can’t argue with that logic.
Shared by: Unacceptably Dry Scones