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  #1  
Old 01-22-2003, 06:24 PM
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N. VA inspection and smog test - any advice?

I have never had my car registered and inspected in VA (I'm from out of state), but its about time that I do. What can anyone tell me about the process of getting ones car inspected and smog tested in northern Virginia? How strict is the inspection? Is there anything I should do before I go to prevent problems? The tie-rod boots are split on my car, will this cause it to fail? Who does the inspection? In N.Y., just about any shop can inspect a car. Can I just take my car to the dealer and have the inspection done?

I'm just concerned about being taken for repairs that aren't needed. Since independent shops in NY do inspections, they use it as a real way to make easy cash. I know what they are inspecting up there, so I know what to inspect on my car before I go, but here in Virginia I'm feeling kind of vulnerable!

Thanks,

GregS
'84 300D, 172K
'90 300CE (my new ride!)
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2003, 07:19 PM
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Location: Falls Church, VA
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You need an annual safety inspection and are subject to a ticket if you don't have a current one. Most repair places and gas stations that do mechanical work can do an inspection. They are very business-like and generally explain what is wrong if you ask. You are under no obligation to have the car fixed by them, but you can get it re-inspected at the same place for two bucks after you have the repair done. If they find a minor repair like a light out, they can fix it for a nominal charge which may be convenient.

You need an emissions certificate to register a car in VA - gas only. It is good for two years. I am not sure about the rest of the state, but in the DC area the test is done on a dyno at 15 and 25 mph for cars newer than 1980. They also test your gas cap and other stuff. If you fail, you can get retested for free within two weeks at the same place. You can get a waiver if you present a statement from a certified emissions specialist (easy to find) that you have spent $460 to fix the problem and still can't pass. If your cat is OK, and the car is in reasonable tune, and the oil is clean, then you should not have a problem.

In the DC area, they measure HC, NOx, and CO. The standards vary by year of car.

I have never felt scammed in either of these tests, but you can get some hard-assed safety inspectors who enforce not just the spirit but the letter of the rules. Emissions is done by entering the VIN into the computer, so there is no interpretation - it either passes or fails.

The safety rules and inspection procedures are required to be available to the consumer at the inspection stations.
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Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 01-22-2003, 08:07 PM
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Location: VA 20 miles west of D.C.
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Yea I would say VA is pretty tough especially if you go to a tough inspector, I know a guy in Fairfax city, let me know if you want to go there
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Old 01-22-2003, 08:37 PM
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I needed to get a little work done anyway (a wheel bearing), so I planned on taking it to Silverstar Motors in Vienna. It's safe to assume he can do the safety inspection then, right? Is the smog test something that has to be done at a state-run site, or can Silverstar also carry out the smog test? This shop has been recommended on this webpage, so I figure I would give it a try.

GregS
'84 300D, 173k
'90 300CE, 161k
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  #5  
Old 01-22-2003, 08:46 PM
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They just did my smog. They take it down the street for either inspection and put the charge on your bill with no markup. They are certified for emissions.
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Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #6  
Old 01-24-2003, 08:41 PM
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Location: Fairfax, VA
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I had a car registered in VA.

I took it to a Shell station for its safety inspection. After sitting down and getting through about 6 pages of a magazine, the guy was done. There is no way they could have done a complete inspection that fast.

VA inspections are a joke -- ask any Maryland mechanic. As long as your wheels don't wiggle, your tie rod boots will be a non-issue.
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2003, 12:29 AM
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Location: Northern Va.
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Eric, Maryland doesn't even have an inspection system, except when you buy a used car. In MD, the headlights are always adjusted, for profit.

Va. use to have inspections every 6 months. I keep my cars in good shape and I suspect you do too. Inspectors see lots of cars and can tell the good from the bad. Yous must have been a good one.

I have been failed by inspectors before so I learned my lesson.

I took my old Explorer in for inspection and told him I already got new tires, exhaust and brakes done so he wouldn't have to fail me.
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2003, 08:15 AM
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Location: Southern New Hampshire
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Lots of VA drivers!

Wow, lots of VA guys here!
I live in Fauquier County VA, about 15 miles South of the Manassas battlefield area.
VA state inspections can be done by any service station that has a "certified inspector" on their payroll. They are required to have a sign posted that tells you exactly what they will inspect. They also have a posting outside the station to tell you that they are an inspection station. The program is regulated by the VA State Police. Presently, its 15 bucks and lasts a year.
I, too, have run into a few issues over the 30 years I've lived here, but overall, I think they have a good program.
The earlier poster is correct, should you fail for some reason, you will get a "rejection" sticker put on your windshield. Aside from the embarrassment of driving your Mercedes around with a rejection sticker for all to see, you have 10 days to correct and reinspect. You can return to the original place for reinspection, or take it anywhere else.
State emissions testing only applies to the Northern VA area. We have no emission test down here.
One point worth mentioning; the inspector will remove any decals/stickers/etc stuck on the inside of your windshield, front side windows, or rear window. So, if you've got a parking pass or other sticker, it will be gone when you get it back. VA is a stickler on stuff on the windows. If you have aftermarket tint on your windows, it has to be "approved" so its not too dark.
Lastly, you probably already know because its posted on every highway into the state... if your have a radar detector, its a no no.
Hope this helps. KenP
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2003, 10:07 AM
EricSilver's Avatar
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Location: Fairfax, VA
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Perhaps my car was indeed simply in good shape.
In New York City, the inspection takes a lot longer.

In Maryland, the used car inspection is very thorough and, true, only needs to be done once. Used car buyers are more comfortable, it seems, with a Maryland inspected car than a VA inspected one.
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Black/Charcoal Interior

------------------------------------
Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2003, 01:26 PM
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Sure, but I've seen, and heard, many MD cars with bad exhausts, bad tires, cracked windsheilds among other things. In states with inspection programs, these things eventually get fixed.

Good for NY if they have a very rigorous inspection system.

I've heard some people say that they know Va inspectors and will take their cars to them for a new inspection sticker, bypassing the actual inspection part. It's not a perfect system and I certainly have seen my share of cars with badly out of alignment headlights. Do the State Police actually enforce that?
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