What’s involved with a Safety Inspection? Safety is an important part of the Massachusetts Vehicle Check. No one wants to drive an unsafe vehicle or share the road with other motorists whose vehicles have safety defects. A broken taillight, cracked windshield, or a defective horn might not seem important, but any one of these or numerous other conditions can make driving unsafe. That’s why it’s important to make sure your vehicle is always in good repair, not just when you’re going to have it inspected. The following is a comprehensive list of safety components to be inspected:
Safety inspections typically take about 12 minutes. In a safety test, the inspector looks for or tests 14 key areas:
1. Visual Overview
2. Brake Tests
3. Exhaust System
4. Steering and Suspension
6. Glazing, Glass and Windshield Wipers
7. Rear View Mirror
8. Lighting Devices
9. Tires and Wheels
10. Bumper, Fenders, and Fuel Tank
11. Altered Vehicle Height
12. Seat Belts
14. Fuel Tank Cap
A vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) computer monitors engine, transmission, fuel system, and emissions control performance. Up to eleven “readiness monitors” or software routines continuously or periodically check these major systems and components under specific operating conditions. If enough monitors have not completed their checks by the time an inspection station connects to a vehicle’s OBD system for an emissions test, the vehicle is “not ready” and will not pass its inspection or re-test.
To pass the emissions test:
Certain common repairs or maintenance procedures can temporarily interrupt power from a vehicle’s battery to its OBD computer, leaving monitors “not ready” for an emissions test because the power loss has cleared all diagnostic results from the computer’s memory. After power is restored, the computer needs to monitor various driving conditions long enough to run the required number of checks again, determine whether emissions-related systems or components are performing correctly, and store this information to be “ready” for a state emissions test.
Until the computer is “ready” for OBD emissions testing, the vehicle will fail its initial inspection or be turned away from a re-test. There may be nothing wrong with the vehicle; the computer simply needs to complete its checks. One week of combined highway and city driving is normally enough to reset the system and provide an accurate reading of vehicle performance.