posts tagged with 'inspection'

the most stressful day of the year

I got my car inspected yesterday. Now for some of you that might be routine, if a little inconvenient, but if your car is like mine you know that there's always considerable doubt whether it'll be able to pass. There are so many things that could go wrong! And at the garage I go to for inspections—only because it's the closest—the guy who does the tests seems to take bitter joy in failing cars for whatever reason he can find. Yesterday when the car in front of me in line was rejected for insufficient tire tread thickness you know I was sweating (well, I was also sweating because I was sitting in a gas station parking lot on an 85° day, but even so). Happily—and surprisingly—my car passed without any trouble. Now I don't have to worry about that for another year! Or, knowing me, 16 or 18 months...

street legal

It's kind of a cliche at this point, but I have trouble with getting my car inspected. I fail at many things in life, but none so dramatically and disastrously as making sure my vehicle passes the standards set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Besides the two instances recorded above, I also drove for over a year with an expired sticker after we moved back from California (and got caught; the only time that's happened, yet) and had another instance of failure in 2009. I'm surprised I didn't write about that one; now I can't remember the details.

So you won't be shocked to hear that it happened again. In fact, since I got my last sticker in May of 2009 (I actually got it in July or something, but I got a May sticker cause that's when my first—failed—test too place), I haven't darkened the door of the testing facility... until yesterday.

Actually, that's not quite true: I darkened the Gulf Station on Bedford Street in Lexington, but they wouldn't even look at my car once they noticed that the front license plate was off. They wouldn't even fail me! That license plate was actually the same issue that bedeviled me back in 2009, and you'll notice I did manage to pass that year without fixing it.

In any case, this year saw yet more problems. Already three months late for inspection back August, I had two errands I needed to accomplish before going back to work: the inspection, and getting some lumber to hold up a new clothesline. Disastrously, I chose to do them in the wrong order and when the lumber—2 10-foot long 4X4 timbers—cracked my windshield, all hope of a timely passing grade disappeared. Oh well, I wanted to bike to work anyhow.

I actually thought all was lost, but at some point in the winter it was suggested to me that the broken windshield might actually be covered by insurance. Hey, maybe I can actually get something for all that money I give them every month! But first, I had to make sure the car would even start after, oh, four and a half months sitting neglected in the driveway (it was actually the need to pick up the mattress for Harvey's new bed that motivated me to get it running again). It did, and a couple hundred dollars at the oil change place saw it running as smooth as new.

Then the insurance folks were remarkably compliant, as were the ladies and gentlemen at JN Phillips Auto Glass in Burlington, and the windshield was repaired while I waited (with my family at LL Bean) at no cost to me. Then a thousand dollars or so on new brakes etc. (thanks to a very kind birthday gift), and I was ready to go. Oh yeah, the brake and alignment guys also put my license plate back on for me.

After all that, the inspection after work on Thursday was positively anti-climactic. Less than 15 minutes in and out, no problems. Though I do admit that, having lived outside the law for as long as I did, it'll take me a little while to stop scanning the roads for police cars and picking my routes to minimize likely encounters with them. I even took the highway home instead of going through Lexington, for that very reason, with the beautiful new sticker right there on my windshield! It's orange again.

So yeah. Do I have to do that all again next year?