The Arizona “Inspection”

2 years ago in October I moved to Arizona. Mostly broke, I waited as long as possible to register my MINI in the state that I now call home. As long as possible ended the day after I received a fix it ticket for expired tags. Let it go, it was a bad time.

All of the registration stuff was painless and took less than 3 hours to complete the first time around. I went to the DMV to get things started and get in line. Part of that wait to wait even more to get my MINI inspected at the station next door to my DMV.

Born and raised in California, we invented emissions controls. California is the reason why we don’t have a MINI D in the states. California is copied by about a dozen states, and has vehicle emissions requirements that are more stringent then the Federal government. You can thank me later. Anyway, getting a vehicle inspected in California was always a nail biting chore. Between the visual inspection, the tail pipe sniffer and other tests, you were lucky if you passed on the first time.

Sometimes it was something as simple as an oil change to clean things up. Or the dreaded O2 sensor. Or a leaky gas cap. It seemed to me that it was always something when it was my turn to get a smog check.

Not so in Arizona. In fact, I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it an inspection. More like a tax with the added inconvenience of spending an hour in line to pay the tax. Sure, they jack into the OBD port to check for fault codes. They also make sure that there is a gas cap installed and are probably supposed to test it. But they don’t look under the hood and they don’t sniff the tail pipe (on pre-1999 cars).

Of course I passed. I bet a 2000 Honda with an almost blown headgasket, complete with the spewing of oil soaked smoke, could pass. It’s not an inspection.

It would be better if ADOT added an "administrative fee" to my registration. If it makes them feel better, I can even pay that at a drive-up window, burger joint style. But to make me wait so that a "technician" can see if the check engine light is on is a little much. Especially when they charge me $28 for the test.

I really have no room to complain. My yearly registration is only $53 on Roxy (because of her miles and age). And it’s not like I can’t afford the $28. It’s insulting to get a test that’s not a test at all.

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  1. It does sound very Oregonian to me too. It’s nothing like that here otherwise. Just on newer cars. It’s really silly.

  2. Dude lets face it Calli is above and beyond what is needed. With the computers in the cars now days you (they) can tell if your running too rich or spewing too much noxious gasses. Do I really need a sticker for my C.A.I. (CARB Cert) before I can run it? If I don’t have it I fail and have to take it off.. I think you have it backwards Calli is the one dragging you over the coals to justify their existence.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jerry!

      Actually, it’s not over the top.

      I remember when I was but a wee lad at elementary school. We would have smog alerts. Not “no BBQs, no burning” alerts, more like stay inside with a damp towel blocking the door path to keep the outside air out. Visibility of >10 miles on a clear day. Not from overcast, but from smog. It was pretty bad. All of SoCal is in a giant Valley (much like Mexico City, who has the worst smog on the planet last I heard), so they had to take very drastic measures to get the air quality better.

      Sure, SoCal air in the summertime is still pretty bad. But it used to be much worse.

      The reason our cars today can actually tell us what is wrong is so that they could be sold in California. Like I mentioned, it’s also the reason why we don’t get the MINI D in the states and why all diesels have to have a urea tank. California did it first, California required it first. There was a time that cars sold in California were different than cars sold in AZ or NV, and you couldn’t bring a car in from NV or AZ without jumping through some very serious flaming hoops of alligators.

      All that aside, I still think it’s dumb that I have to pay the state of AZ $28 to wait in line to pay $28. It should be included on my registration.

  3. you think paying for a test that isn’t a test is bad… try paying the “document fee” on a vehicle in Delaware. (“tax free” state my @$$!!) Why they have the nerve to call it a “document fee” when it is calculated based on “their” value of the vehicle… regardless of what you paid for the car, is downright enraging. And because it’s not a “tax” (which it is) if you are moving into the state, and bought your car more than XX days (i think it’s 60 days) prior to becoming a DE resident… you’re paying the DocFee. If it’s less than XX days, and you paid a sales tax elsewhere… the DocFee is waived. ^$%@@#^@#$* Crooks.

  4. There used to be a much more stringent inspection, every year and it involved the gass cap, visually checking the exhaust system, sniffer at idle and under load. Fun times. You could not plan on getting it done at lunch because of the line. I feel no nostalgia for those days, maybe because my car always needed to be inspected in the summer and my A/C or my cooling system never worked right.

  5. One of the joys of Imperial County in CA is that we have no smog test!! Only have to smog when selling a vehicle. All because we are an agricultural area with lots of vehicles that wouldn’t stand a hope otherwise.

    So if you come vist our fair county, make sure you know where your cabin vent button is so you can stave off the exhaust smells.

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