It’s been over two years since Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation unveiled updated rules governing the inspection of vehicles entering from other provinces or being sold as used.
Written with the assistance of shop owners and technicians in the field, the changes were long overdue, and were a significant step toward catching up with motor vehicle trends and technology.
And while many licensed inspection stations have accepted their new responsibilities, and have embraced the opportunity to conduct more thorough inspections, there are some shops that are still operating under the old rules, or, worse, flouting the law entirely.
Ignorance of the new standards is no excuse. The ministry went out of its way to make sure shops were properly informed of the changes, and most industry groups and associations have worked hard to pass the information along to their members.
Still there are some shop owners who will openly admit they’ve done nothing to update their procedures. No training, no research, no questions.
This is a sad state of affairs… and it’s difficult to understand why some shops would take such a cavalier attitude toward public safety.
It’s even more difficult to comprehend the actions of those bad apples who sell fraudulent inspection stickers, ignoring obvious defects and letting serious safety concerns go unaddressed.
Unfortunately, the provincial government is insufficiently staffed to find and prosecute all the illegal operators. While there are regular investigations, and ongoing efforts to hire more enforcement officers, it is clearly a very difficult task to oversee such a large industry right across the province.
Perhaps it’s time for regular inspections of all vehicles, done at approved locations with certified and trained technicians. It could be run much like Ontario’s emission program, DriveClean, which provided a direct data link between the inspecting station and the ministry’s own record-keeping system.
It’s true that reducing the number of inspection stations would make the process less convenient for motorists, but it would allow the MTO to better control the program.
Think about how many problems would disappear virtually overnight. Guidelines would be followed, the safety of the public would be dramatically improved, and, most importantly, fake safeties would be eliminated.
Annual inspections – timed to coincide with plate renewals – would be a surefire way of improving the overall safety of vehicles on the road. There would also be opportunity for the government to educate consumers about the importance of vehicle safety, and the importance of regular maintenance and inspections.
Let’s start making noise about this issue, petitioning our MPPs to make inspections mandatory for license renewal, and calling on insurance companies to offer reduced rates to owners of provably safe vehicles.
Let’s voice our opinion. If we complain about it but do nothing to affect change, we shouldn’t be surprised if nothing gets done.
Our strength is in our numbers. This is where professional organizations can help us.
Don’t be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand on this very important issue. Do something about it!
Bob Ward is the owner of The Auto Guys in St. Thomas, Ont., and he serves on the executive committee of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO). You can reach him at email@example.com.