Safety Inspections Should Be Mandatory
In 2019, the Utah legislation removed mandatory safety inspections for cars as a requirement for being licensed. If you ask any mechanic around the state, they’ll tell you this was a bad idea. Police have been pulling over more and more people for obvious car problems that simple safety inspections would catch and fix ever since. Supposedly, the legislature is discussing making them mandatory again. While mechanics are certainly cheering for this to be so, they’ll also be quick to remind you that you shouldn’t wait for the government to tell you to get one.
The Best Time Is Yesterday
Cars naturally break down over time – this is what physicists refer to as “entropy.” The longer you go without an inspection, the more likely something is going to wear out without you noticing. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve had a safety inspection, you’ve probably gone a bit too long. The best time to get a safety inspection is yesterday. If you didn’t get one yesterday, the next best option is “as soon as possible.” We talked to SE Performance, a mechanic in Cache Valley, Utah, and they told us several good reasons why you should do it now if you haven’t already.
1. Safety Inspections Spot Little Problems
Unless you’re driving an older car, most of the time, a safety inspection probably won’t find anything seriously wrong. In this case, the safety inspection is a quick, fairly inexpensive process. On the other hand, those occasions when they do spot problems, it’s a good idea to get them fixed. They might be little things, like slightly loose parts, slightly worn brake pads, just a little bit of corrosion, and the like. These can be taken care of quickly and with minimal fuss during the inspection.
2. Safety Inspections Save Money
Little problems don’t cost a lot of money to fix. Big problems do. A slight misalignment of the wheels can easily be adjusted. If you leave the wheels misaligned, however, it can grind the axel, screw up the bearings, and create uneven wear on the tire treads. Fixing all those issues at once gets expensive. If you’d fixed the alignment issue early, none of those other issues would have been a problem. Because safety inspections catch the little problems that lead to bigger issues, getting one saves you a lot of money in the long run.
3. Safety Inspections Save Lives
There’s a reason they’re called “Safety Inspections.” They’re for your safety. If you skip out on your safety inspections and something goes wrong, that can get you injured. A small problem with your brakes won’t interfere with your driving at the start – at least not much – but if you ignore it, it can cause the whole brake system to malfunction. A braking problem is no laughing matter when someone in front of you suddenly has to stop and your car just won’t slow down fast enough. You hit the person from behind, the responsibility is on you for not stopping in time. Your brakes not working is no excuse because a safety inspection would have caught your brakes were at risk of going bad well before it happened.
Now, imagine if instead of rear-ending someone, your brakes failed at an intersection and your car went right into cross-traffic. Not a happy thought, is it? Well, this is only one of many different problems regular safety inspections can help prevent.
If you haven’t had a safety inspection in a while, you shouldn’t really need a reason to get one. If you do need a reason, there is a good one right here: summer vacation. Thanks to the CDC changing its guidelines on outdoor gatherings, summer travel is going to be more of an option. If you’re planning on traveling somewhere for a summer vacation, you’re going to be on the road a lot. The more time you spend on the road, the more risk of problems you face. If you’re planning on going on summer vacation this year, you definitely want to have a safety inspection before you go. You don’t want to get out on the interstate only for an easily spotted and fixed problem you didn’t know about to leave you stranded.
Schedule Ahead of Time
Unless your car is older, a safety inspection likely isn’t going to turn up any serious problems. It’s not a good idea to take chances on that, though. While your safety inspection might just be in and out, no problems, it could turn up something more. This may require the mechanic to do extra work, or even order replacement parts. That can add a week or two to the time your car is in the shop. That’s why you should schedule your safety inspection ahead of time. The head mechanic at SE Performance told me, “I once had this guy come in and say he was heading out to Oregon the next day and wanted to make sure his car could handle it. I told him I could check it out, but if I found anything that needed to be fixed, it was going to be a delay.”
Don’t wait until the last minute to get your car checked out. Give yourself at least two or three weeks ahead of any travel plans, just in case. The more time you give yourself, the less chance you’ll be delayed.
Even if you’re not going on a summer vacation this year, you should consider a safety inspection. If it’s been more than a year, you’re definitely due. The difference it makes is huge. A few months can turn a simple fix costing a couple hundred dollars into a complete breakdown that may cost you over a thousand dollars. If the breakdown happens at the wrong time, you might also need to add hospital bills to that!
So, enjoy your summer. Just make sure that your car is ready to handle any driving you need to do.