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Old 08-05-2008, 07:09 PM   #15
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Dawn/Mark,

One of the employees at the first station actually told me about my "holding up other customers". He claimed that it was because his inspector was inexperienced in MHs. I reminded him that it was a safety inspection and that the MH has all the same things on that type of inspection in common with a regular passenger vehicle except some of the locations. The muffler and exhaust pipe are all the way back on mine. He told me that there were too many lights to check them all and that the inspector wasn't sure how many there should be. Right, like I really modified the lights on a standard vehicle just to slip it past his inspection station. I got into a similar discussion with the owner. He said that his regular inspector wasn't in. I looked him straight in the eye and asked him "if your regular isnpector were here tomorrow, would you inspect my vehicle then." His answer was that he would have to talk to his regular inspector.

I've come to expect that my safety inspection fee is really just another tax on me. As long as they'll give me my sticker for the $14.50, I don't really care what they do. As you point out, it would take a long time to really inspect a MH. I do that - a lot. The last thing I want is to be broken down somewhere on my vacation. I have a terrific record of maintaining my passenger vehicles, driving them 100Ks miles and never having breakdowns or problems anywhere. I don't want any less for my RV. There is no way that a $14.50 inspection is going to do any good on a vehicle this complex if it isn't maintained in the first place. Looking at the tread on an RV tire is useless - the tire could blowout in the next block of the inflation hasn't been properly maintained. It is when they possibly could prevent me from using it because it has an expired inspection sticker that I go off the deep end. The only good part of this is that I started way early in the month so if I had problems, I would have time to deal with them.

BTW, I'm pretty convinced that I couldn't go back to any of the three inspection stations that I visited today after they were written up because of a complaint by me and expect to pass inspection - ever. The rules are sufficiently vague and the inspectors are sufficiently impowered (my toad flunked last year for the engine drive belt) that I would never get through. That is one of the reasons I figure that complaints are a lost cause.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:15 PM   #16
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Chasfm11,
You said what I was thinking "just another tax on me". I think you are right. Maybe the Austin logic is that we spend a lot of $$ on our rigs and "probably" maintain them.

mark
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:17 PM   #17
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Three years ago, I was at the Escapee park in Livingston, TX and took my Jeep Liberty to a nearby small truck repair shop for the inspection. The guy was not happy to have to stop his work to do my inspection. When I told me I would be back in a few minutes with my MH, he was about to shoot me. LOL. The inspection consisted of turning on lights, testing the breaks, left blinker, and right blinker. Test over, $13.50 please. Took him 10 times as long to fill out the paper work than to do the test.

Returning to TX 2 1/2 years later I had some work done on my workhorse chassis at a shop in College Station. The young lady at the front desk had a real attitude problem, so we did not get along. After they finished my chassis work, I remembered needing the inspections. Guess who did inspections? Yep, the young lady at the front desk. She put both the Jeep and MH thru a very thorough inspection. She actually drove both vehicles around the building twice with a snarl on her face. Luckily, she could not find anything wrong.
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Old 08-06-2008, 04:51 AM   #18
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Hi-

Aren't inspections fun. Read this thread on a brand new 09, 39' Diesel Pusher from 69Roadrunner in Virginia--
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:28 AM   #19
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Yes, Max. I've followed that thread. I know that problems with inspections are just about universal as far as the States are concerned. It is just the inability to get an RV inspection that seems to be unique to Texas. I'm not sure what is worse, not being able to get inspected reasonably or getting inspected and flunking unreasonably.

For the VA situation, I would personally be all over Newmar for failure to provide a vehicle that met NHTSA standards. There was also a thread on another forum about a guy with toad wiring for the lights and braking from the MH where the dealer wanted $500 to remove all of that before he would troubleshoot a chassis electrical problem on the toad. I can just see the VA guy adding relays and wiring to couple the fog lights to the running light circuit and then have Newmar reject any work on the coach because the wiring was modified. I sure wouldn't want to go there.

They give a TAKS test here in Texas to kids to make sure that they have learned enough to graduate from high school. I'm convinced that with a college degree, graduate work and both public school teaching and 30 years worth of professional work experience, I'd flunk that test if I took it. To get the kids to pass it, the teachers are teaching the test, rather than the material on which it is based, loosing sight of the whole purpose for the test. I view the inspection situation as much the same. The purpose is to identify problems and get unsafe and polluting cars off the highway. Somehow, because of the way the inspection program is implemented and administered, we spend a significant amount of time addressing issues that having nothing to do with unsafe or polluting cars. It just blows my mind.
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:21 AM   #20
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The first VA inspection on my new motorhome at a truck service place was a shock -- $50 vs the normal $15 for a car!! They showed me the book where it said they could charge $50 for larger vehicles, air brakes, or whatever it was because it took much longer (I don't recall now exactly how it was worded).

The next year I had my car done at a local Western Auto and asked if they could do the motorhome inspection. No problem they said. With the car, they pulled it inside. With the motorhome, they had me drive it up to the door of the small bay and I stayed inside and ran the lights, etc as they asked for them. AND, they only charged me the standard $15. I went back there each year until I left VA!
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Old 08-06-2008, 09:17 AM   #21
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Paul, in the past years, I've done the same things - stayed inside and ran the lights for them. For someone familiar with the list of items to be checked and even the order that the inspection guidelines suggest checking them, it really doesn't take that long to do the physical inspection. I admit that it is easier for me to find things because I'm familiar with RVs. If it is forbidden for anyone participate in the inspection process, then it has been violated in the past. They wanted to drive my MH to verify that the brakes worked. They were attempting to take it where the center compartment doors would have scraped (an hump in the curb) when I stopped them. They said "fine - you drive." I did and executed the brake test at the inspector's command. I was happy because they didn't screw up my RV and they were satisfied that the test had been performed.

One of the interesting things that I haven't brought out so far is the rapid turnover in inspectors. In many cases, the quick lube places don't keep inspectors for more than about a month. It is a wonder that the inspectors have any experience in inspecting ANY type of vehicle. I've run into more than a few here who could barely speak English (not all Hispanic accents as you might have expected in this area). For whatever reason, the turn over in inspectors is actually faster than for the employees who do the oil changes, etc. To me that would be one of the most boring jobs around. Maybe the inspectors are getting fired, either by the employers or by the State for problems with the inspections. I'd admit that it proably isn't a great situation for them, either.

I suspect that if TX DPS gave any of the inspection stations the option to charge $50 for an RV inspection, they eagerly do the inspections for that price. When I spoke earlier in one of my posts about "be careful what you wish for", that was one of the possible outcomes that I would expect if I got politicians involved. It is bad enough to have the hassles and a $15 charge. I would really be fried if it were $50 because I'm positive that wouldn't eliminate anything but the availability problem.
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Old 08-06-2008, 04:16 PM   #22
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This thread shows why most motor vehicle inspection programs are a joke!
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Old 08-06-2008, 05:13 PM   #23
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Joke is right. Most of the time, they have a near minimum age flunkie doing the inspection. He could not care less about his job...just that there is a payday on a certain schedule.

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Old 08-07-2008, 06:50 AM   #24
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First problem was the OP was trying to get his DP inspected in a non-attainment county. We have ours done when we return to Texas each fall in either Tyler or Livingston. No problem because we have them done at RV repair places. It is a quick check on a DP and if you can do it in an attainment area (small counties without the smog of Dallas, Houston, SA, etc.) then everyone pays the $14.50 and it is no big deal to do the MHs.

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Old 08-07-2008, 08:47 AM   #25
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Barb, if your residence is in one of the smog check counties, you have to have the gas vehicle inspected there. You can not live in Houston and sneak off to a little county that does not have to meet polution requirements and get an inspection. They usualy go by your insurance card address and drivers license.

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Old 08-07-2008, 09:55 AM   #26
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Ken is right about having to have the inspection done in your home county. We're in Denton and the inspection sticker has to say Denton. The attainment part has relevance only to our passenger vehicles which require emissions check. As you correctly stated, a DP is a "safety" check only, costs $14.50 and that applies anywhere in the State.

I agree that the actual inspection should be no big deal. That's what frosts me. The list of items should be easily checked by someone who knows what they are doing in less than 5 minutes. In my 4 years of inspections, not one of the stations has either followed the list or the recommended order for checking it. Unfortunately for me, there are no RV places that are certified to do inspections anywhere close to me. At today's fuel prices, when the inspection isn't a big deal anyway, I don't know why I have to drive 50 miles round trip to an RV facility for that inspection. I would be really frosted to drive 50 miles and have someone just slap the sticker on without checking anything as was done on one of my inspections. If that is all that is going to happen, why must I drive further than the station that I started with this time - less than a mile from my house?

I would remind you that my problem wasn't with the inspection itself but in getting one of the stations to agree to do it. I repeated both "it is no big deal" and "I'll help you with any parts about which you have questions" multiple times. I'm obviously just the customer, however, and couldn't possibly know anything. I'll promise you that I know more about both the inspection and vehicles in general than any of the inspectors that I've had. I've been doing my own work and maintenance for over 30 years and can generally turn a wrench with the best of them. I never, ever, take a vehicle in for inspection that I haven't gone through the complete inspection beforehand. In all of that time, I've never flunked an inspection for something that I missed. It has always been for some bogus,invented problem like my Saturn's drive belt last year. I fully recognize that each station has to meet their quote of flunks and that ever once in a while, I'm going to be part of that quota.
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Old 08-07-2008, 07:33 PM   #27
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You all bring up alot of good comments on the issue of state inspections in Texas.
I owned and operated an Automotive/Repair, state inspection station in Tx for the last 10 years. I can give you a little bit from the other side of the garage door. First off,I can appreciate the op's frustration as I too used to hear the same lame excuses prior to building my own shop. Most boiled down to plain old laziness!
Secondly, Lets not paint the whole of Texas`state inspectors with such a broad brush. I've seen customers treat my men like dirt because they were "just lube techs" or "Inspectors". I don't think ANYBODY is any better than anybody else. Not every kid is going to or has the opportunity of college.
No doubt the customer service sector is in a bad state. This was a niche we saw when we got into the biz. Our avg. length of employment was 3.5 yrs. I was on site working among my men every hour of operation. I had 11 state inspectors running 2 machines and we never turned down an inspection we were authorized to do.
Fact: We hated to fail a vehicle!
Why?
#1 Because the customer is not happy.
#2 We had to redo it for free.
There is no incentive to fail a vehicle. None!
Unfortunately not everyone is as thorough with their vehicle as the op prior to bringing it in.
Like anything you do enough and you will have failures, it's a numbers thing. Not because an inspector is mad at a customer, at least not at my shop.
In Texas when you apply for a vehicle inspection station license you pick which vehicle classes you want to do. Most do not choose to do vehicles above 26,000. We did not. My MH is well over 26k and I will have the dealer do it. Also most of your quick lubes are built on postage stamps, you really want some "flunkie"(not my word) driving your rig in that tight area.
DPS was in our shop every month or so. They closed down alot of stations in Dallas and Ft.Worth for slapping on stickers.
The inspection program does work. It's not perfect, it is not a joke, but it is a huge operation. Believe me I wasn't happy to shell out almost a 100 grand for new equipment in 2002 when the law changed. As far as diesels go at 14.50 we've got a deal. You want a more thorough inspection? Be careful what you wish for . It's in the pipeline for diesels. I don't want to see that anymore than most of you but with the explosion of diesels it's coming. My guess we won't like the $$$
Reading the original post brought me back 10 years and I know it's 100% truthful. I know the area well and can visualize the shops he went to, it's a shame.
My advice to inspection customers is this:
Go in the middle of the month-little to no wait.
Do not if possible go on saturdays especially 1st and last.
Check all your basics at home 1st and don't forget the license plate light.
MH's- make sure all your marker/clearance lights work.
Dualies- make sure you have mud flaps.
Most importantly the state inspection is not designed to be the end all inspection. By all means your pre and post trip inspections are a must.
Safe Travels.
HPH
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:47 PM   #28
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HPH, you, too, bring up some good points. Even in my most negative thoughts about Texas State inspections, I know that there are some shops out there that try to do the right thing. To several of your points:
1. If there were an RV dealer with an Inspection license anywhere close to me, that's where I'd go.
2. While there are some good shops, I'm afraid that in this matter, the bad outweighs the good. I tend to stay with something that works. If I'd found an inspection station in this area that I felt was good, they'd get all of my business all of the time. Heck, I've been going to the same hair salon for 5 years. The fact that I cannot seem to find a good one in the area speaks volumes about the program as a whole, at least to me.
3. I don't want a better program for diesels. I just don't want a lot of hassles associated with what I think is a very minimal program. Let all agree what it is and treat it like that.
4. There is a huge incentive to fail cars. Most people are not like me (DIYs) and are going to pay to have repairs made so that their cars will pass. It was only in NJ where all inspections were done by State employees who didn't do any repairs where I would believe that there was no incentive to flunk cars. My BIL owns an inspection station in PA and he'll be the first to tell you that much of his business comes from inspection failures. In your point about inspection stations being closed down for slapping on stickers, I have a reliable report that DPS visited a local station and told the owner that he had better start flunking some or he would be shut down. Many of the quick lube places in TX are getting a significant amount of their revenue from the inspection failure repairs. If you have any doubts, sit in the waiting room of one (as I have) and just listen to the customers that are passing through the doors and what they are paying for.
5. My RV is 22K GVW (so not over 26K). It should be no different than a dually pickup except for the location of the engine from an inspection perspective.

I'm sorry if my posts in any way were demeaning toward anyone. My personal experience is that many of the inspectors that I have worked with were obviously not native English speakers. Some of the ones that spoke English were obviously right out of high school and, IMHO, carried a very high school like attitude. I'm sure that there are good ones, just like there are good RV repair people. I just hope to meet some of them some day.

This was the first year in the 20 years that we have been in Texas where I didn't follow your advice to go in the middle of the week in the middle of the month to have my inspections done. Like just about everything else that I do, I try to optimize the situation. I have special circumstances this year that caused me to start so early in the month to get the RV inspected. The fact was that none of the inspection stations had more than one or two ahead of me so it wasn't like I was inflicting any harm on them by being there.

Lastly, I'm totally amazed by the number of businesses today who appear to not be at all concerned whether the customer is happy. Apparently, the turnover in ownership of many of the inspection stations hasn't caused any of the new owners to get religion about customer satisfaction. The one closest to me has had 4 different owners in 5 years. IMHO, the customer treatment there is generally rude. I do understand that some of that rude treatment is a result of customers treating the employees in a rude manner. I generally am a happy person and don't start out any business transaction with a chip on my shoulder. I will admit that I hate shopping for cars because of the treatment that I've gotten and, now, dealing with inspection shops is running a close second.
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