Although regular vehicle inspections in New York State are a good thing when viewed from a safety perspective, there is little doubt that many less than upstanding repair shops use vehicle inspections purely as a way to fleece unsuspecting car owners by “recommending” unnecessary “repairs”, making easy money or in most cases, lots of easy money in the process.
Of course, the city of White Plains, NY is not immune to this problem, which is why you should do more than perform only superficial research when you are looking around our city for a repair shop with professional, well trained, and highly skilled technicians to keep your car in peak condition. Fortunately, then, the fact that you are now reading this means you have arrived at the right place, because with us the term “Excellent Customer Care” is much more than a mere buzz phrase or marketing slogan- to us, it is the currency that pays our bills, and keeps your car in a safe and reliable condition.
So what does all of this have to do with the vehicle inspections required by the State of New York, you may ask? You may well ask, because we know how important it is for you to have your vehicle pass the DMV inspection the first time, and should you bring your vehicle to us for a pre-inspection, we will NOT “repair”, or replace anything without your permission. The practice of replacing parts without prior permission is widespread not only in New York State, but everywhere, so let us take a closer look at what the New York State Vehicle Inspection entails, what we will do for you, and what we will NOT do without your permission.
In part, the law states that apart from the quality of exhaust emissions on most vehicles, the following items shall also be inspected:
Steering, Front End, Suspension, Chassis, Frame and Wheel Fasteners:
We are not suggesting that all the repair shops in the city of White Plains NY, or any other city in New York State for that matter, are scam artists, but the fact is that the items in the above list offer many mechanics and repair shops excellent opportunities to fleece you if you are not knowledgeable about cars and repair procedures. Please note however, that the list represented here is not complete, and we recommend that you use the links provided in this article to view the complete list of test requirements.
So to help you spot scams and rip offs, we will take a closer look at a few of the items in the list that are most often used to scam car owners by unscrupulous auto repair shops in White Plains NY. Moreover, we will also explain why you should only ever have your vehicle checked by a team of reputable, honest, and professional technicians, who will save you significant sums of money by diagnosing faults accurately, and correctly the first time- every time.
Brake Pedal Fade:
This is a favorite “defect” of unscrupulous mechanics the world over. With the engine not running, the brake pedal will feel rock-solid, and there will be no fade. However, brake fade can be simulated by starting the engine while maintaining pressure on the brake pedal- the vacuum generated by the engine will manifest as a perceptible movement of the brake pedal. This is normal, and should you be quoted for brake repairs, you are being scammed.
Brake Pedal Reserve:
As defined in the law, the minimum distance between the floorboard and the top of the brake pedal must be at least one third of the total possible distance the pedal can travel. Nonetheless, losing two thirds of the pedal’s possible travel is indicative of some type of problem, but it need not cost you an arm and a leg to resolve, even though there are several possible causes of excessive free play, some of which are:
On vehicles with drum brakes on the rear axle, the most common cause is the under adjustment of the brake shoes. Brake dust can inhibit the functioning of automatic adjustment devices, so in almost all cases, the issue can be resolved simply by removing the dust, and then manually adjusting the brakes to specified clearances.
Wheel bearings, particularly adjustable tapered roller bearings, can cause the same symptom because the wheel is not held securely on the axle, especially while the vehicle is moving. The free play in the bearings translate into a movement of the wheel at right angles to the axle that can be taken up by the brakes as they exert a clamping force on the disc, which movement could be interpreted as either brake fade, or insufficient pedal reserve.
However, incorrectly adjusted wheel bearings also causes uneven tyre wear and/or imprecise steering, so if your tires are not wearing unevenly, the cause is unlikely to be defective wheel bearings. Our skilled technicians will be able to differentiate between all possible causes without any trouble at all, which means that if you are quoted for a brake system “overhaul” to increase brake pedal reserve, you should question the diagnosis, and/or get a second opinion from only the top auto repair mechanics in White Plains NY.
If you have recently replaced brake pads, brake shoes, or other brake system components, there is a more than even chance that air could have entered the system, which will manifest as brake fade. Many repair shops do not bleed the brake system after having replaced brake pads to expel air often enters the system when calliper pistons are pushed back into the callipers.
We care about your safety, which is why we always purge all air from brake systems when we replace brake pads or other components, and we never fit new pads to worn discs or rotors, since the wear pattern of the old discs could cause excessive movement of the calliper pistons, which will manifest as brake fade and excessive pedal free play on the one hand, and cause severe overheating of the disc and new pads on the other. Overheating the brakes can cause catastrophic brake failure and/or the destruction of wheel bearings, which is why we do it right- every time.
Wheel cylinder, and/or brake calliper leaks:
While it is common to find leaking wheel cylinders, it is very rare to find leaking calipers. However, if you have not had to top up the brake fluid reservoir during the past few weeks or months, there is unlikely to be leaking wheel cylinders, calipers, or master cylinders. Brake fluid does not just disappear; if the level remains constant, there are no leaks. However, in cases where the brake fluid level drops and there is no evidence of external leaks, the leak may be from the rear of the master cylinder where it attaches to the brake booster.
In these cases, the leak may not become immediately visible because the brake fluid leaks into the booster, even though there may be no brake fade or excessive pedal travel present. Again, in these cases, our skilled technicians will be able to trace the cause of the drop in the brake fluid to the master cylinder, so question all quotes for brake system “overhauls”.
Shock absorbers are safety critical life-and-limb components, and the level of their efficiency cannot be judged by pushing down on each corner of a car a few times while chewing on a match stick.
Proper test equipment tests both the compression and rebound rates of shock absorbers, which rates are different on almost all modern shock absorbers. We will only ever replace shock absorbers on a vehicle if our test equipment indicates incorrect functioning, or if we find conclusive evidence of damage of other defects. Or of course, if you ask us to replace them.
Steering wheel play:
Since “steering wheel play” is not clearly defined in the law, many repair shops use this an excuse to fleece car owners. Steering wheel play is determined by both the design of the steering/suspension system(s), and the number of pivoting components that make up these systems, which makes it easy for a shady operator to “determine” that the entire steering system needs to be “overhauled” before it will pass the State Vehicle Inspection.
However, just as with your brakes, we care about your safety, and while some components such as tie rod ends, drag links, and ball joints do wear out, and must be replaced from time to time, they are extremely unlikely to wear out within the first few years of a car’s life. If we find worn or damaged components on your car, we will discuss the issue with you, and not replace anything you do not give us permission to replace.
Vehicle manufacturers are obliged to supply the market with engines that comply with all emission control legislation; however, there are many things that can go wrong on a modern car that could have a direct bearing on the quality of its exhaust emissions, which is a circumstance that lends itself to abuse and manipulation by shady repair shop operators.
Emission control is a hugely complicated affair, but suffice to say that the OBD (On Board Diagnostics) systems of late model cars are programmed to register, and log all malfunctions that bear on the quality of exhaust emissions. Therefore, during the New York State Vehicle Inspection, the correct functioning of the diagnostic system is checked to eliminate the possibility of some electronic faults slipping through the cracks, so to speak.
The function of this test is not to diagnose emission control related faults that may be present on your car, but rather to determine if your diagnostic system is capable of registering all faults as and when they occur- which is where shady operators come into the picture.
There are many reasons why a car can fail an emissions test during NYS vehicle inspection, such as the fact that a recent emission control issue may have been repaired, and the diagnostic/management system was not reset properly. All cars have what is known as “drive cycles”, and while they differ from vehicle to vehicle, all have the purpose of resetting the diagnostic/management system to enable it to monitor all operational systems accurately.
One favorite scam involves quoting for expensive “repairs” to the emission control system, while all that is often required is the resetting of the diagnostic system by going through the drive cycle, a procedure that almost never takes more than about 30 minutes or so- without replacing or “fixing” anything.
Another scam involves the fact that many car owners may not be aware of the fact that some emissions control components may be covered by the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty for periods of up to eight years. While independent automotive repair shops generally cannot perform warranty work, some do, (and very often), replace expensive emission control components that should by rights have been covered by factory warranties. So if your car fails the emissions test, contact your dealer for full details on what is covered by your warranty, and what could be excluded or limited under certain conditions.
Of course, there may be other, more serious reasons why a car can fail an emissions test, such as:
a defective battery,
a recently replaced battery,
modifications to wiring,
poorly executed repair work to wiring,
serious, or repeated engine overheating,
the wrong type of engine oil,
or legitimately defective components,
One more thing…
Because modern cars are becoming more complex with each passing year, and busy schedules sometimes lead to forgotten car maintenance chores, it is imperative that you have somebody in your corner that cares about your car, and hence your safety, as much as you do, so give us a call the next time you need to have your car pass the New York State Vehicle vehicle inspection.
We’ve got you covered- even if you do not live in White Plains!
There are almost as many scams and rip-offs in the car repair industry as there are cars on the roads, and while this article does not claim to be last word on the subject, the few points discussed here should offer sufficient motivation to any car owner in White Plains, NY, to exercise due diligence in the process of finding an honest, reputable repair shop.
But we will not replace anything without discussing the problem with you first. Often times, the vehicle inspection problem can be resolved relatively easily and at a far lower cost than you might think, which makes it worth your while to find an honest, reputable repair shop not only in White Plains, NY, but any other town or city in New York State.
You Need Quality - Your Car Needs a Great Mechanic - You Need Us