Auto Service World
News   June 29, 2016   by Bob Ward

IT’S YOUR TURN: Let’s retire unsafe vehicles

It should be the duty of repair shops to prevent neglected and dangerous vehicles from getting back on the road.


While on a road trip, Vinnie Klimkosz, owner of Vinnie’s Mr. Fixit in Guelph, Ont., snapped this picture of an overloaded and severely neglected Dodge Caravan.

While on a road trip, Vinnie Klimkosz, owner of Vinnie’s Mr. Fixit in Guelph, Ont., snapped this picture of an overloaded and severely neglected Dodge Caravan.

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the unsafe mechanical condition of some vehicles being driven on our public roadways today.

The “Eye Spy” pictures in this magazine give us an idea of what’s on our streets and highways… and it is an eye opener for sure!

There are a bunch of reasons why this situation has developed.

It seems that many people today are unaware of the importance of preventive maintenance. We do our best to educate them, of course, and maybe we’re making progress, but young people particularly are not taught by their parents how to care for their vehicles. There seems to be a mentality that cars should not require regular maintenance, and that seemingly minor defects – like burned out bulbs, worn tires, loose suspension and perpetually illuminated check-engine lights – can be left unfixed.

Our governments, which have shown a willingness to pass many laws designed to protect us, fall short of mandating annual motor vehicle inspections. About the only time we have to check for roadworthiness is when a vehicle changes hands or is brought from one province to another.

You could argue that the kind of cars whose ownership is transferred or that are brought with a family when they move across the country are the most likely to be roadworthy to start with. They obviously have intrinsic value. What we really need to worry about are the aging cars that are beyond selling and couldn’t make the trip across the country. These are the cars that people are hanging onto, driving until they completely rust out and won’t start anymore. Until these menacing vehicles give up they ghost, they share the road with everyone else’s vehicles, posing a threat at every intersection.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.10.43 PMAnother factor to the growing fleet of dangerous vehicles is the simple fact there are no laws preventing safety-related auto parts from being sold to complete amateurs. Do-it-yourself work is often done by untrained people, in the most haphazard ways, with parts that they get at the local parts store. Too often these do-it-yourselfers look for the cheapest solution, not caring if the parts meet the original manufacturer’s specifications or meet reasonable levels of quality.

No wonder many vehicles on today’s roads are accidents waiting to happen!

Our shops are on the front lines. From time to time, we see a vehicle in an egregious state of disrepair. And sometimes, despite our most earnest warnings, the motorist chooses not to have the work done. No matter how much we think we can protect ourselves with disclaimers, if something serious happens to a vehicle that just left our shop, we can be held responsible.

In the worst cases, where letting that vehicle go poses a risk to the general public, I believe shops should have the right – indeed, the obligation – to prevent it from getting back on the road.

Maybe we should petition our provincial governments to let licensed motor vehicle inspection facilities have the authority to remove the plates on any unsafe vehicle. We owe it to the innocent victims who could otherwise be injured or killed by these dangerous cars to voice our opinions to the appropriate agencies.

I would even challenge insurance companies to mandate inspections on vehicles before they issue policies on them. They have no idea about the mechanical fitness of most of the vehicles they insure. How many collisions are from the result of unsafe vehicles? Think about that while you drive!Bob Ward

Bob Ward is the owner of The Auto Guys in St. Thomas, Ont. He is also a member of the CARS Advisory Panel.


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7 Comments » for IT’S YOUR TURN: Let’s retire unsafe vehicles
  1. John Poos says:

    Regarding the Article by Bob Ward “It’s your turn. Let’s retire unsafe vehicles”. I couldn’t agree more! Why in some provinces and other countries are yearly inspections mandatory? For the safety of everyone on the road, or on the sidewalks and crosswalks for that matter, this should be mandatory in all provinces! Doctors have the power to pull a persons license if they believe them to be unfit to drive. Technicians should be able to pull the plates if the vehicle is unsafe or unfit for the road. People should be aware that if you knowingly or willingly drive an unsafe vehicle and cause an accident you can and should be charged with criminal negligence.

  2. Herman Folgering says:

    Here in Saskatchewan the only time a vehicle needs a safety inspection is when it comes in from another province or country.
    And a lot of people nowadays seem to think that they are giving their vehicles great maintenance by having the oil changed and inspection done at a fast lube place,but what they don’t realize is that the car sits over a pit with all wheels on the floor,so they cannot check steering or suspension parts,also brakes are very hard to check this way.
    But of course it is convenient!

  3. Colin Abbott says:

    You want to see unsafe try looking at NEW motor homes, so many safety defects, built right into these, there is no body that controls safety on RVS, tried to report safety defects, even the ministry was not interested, very sad.

  4. Tig says:

    Here in NB we have mandatory inspections but there is always the shop that will pass the vehicle with unsafe issues for a quick buck. I feel integrity has suffered from this.

  5. Russ Papetti says:

    There are already people in place to remove the plates of unsafe vehicles. If you feel a vehicle is unsafe for the road and it is leaving your shop, all you have to do is call the police and report it. Just like reporting a drunk driver.

  6. Antwan says:

    Local and Provincial Police Services do a great job of removing unsafe vehicles from the roads. We should let them do their job and stick to performing repairs we are shop owners and mechanics, not politicians. This proposal is crap.

  7. Vinnie says:

    I was the person who submitted this photo, its hard to see in the photo, but they were also towing a trailer with several large items on it. I was driving my motorhome, and the fella clearly was holding the drivers door shut as he drove down the road. Shook my head, thats for sure!

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