Inspector? I hardly even know her?

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

It seems my state inspection and registration have expired.  Today I decided to address both items (before the fates decide to give me tickets).  There are a bunch of questions I am often asked about the inspection process and what a 1929 Ford needs to “pass”.   A state inspection is basically a tool the government uses to make certain that a car is in “safe operating condition”. The definition of “safe operating condition” has changed over the years.  Cars ONLY need to meet the standards required at the time of manufacture. 

The check typically includes: 1) Seatbelts, 2) Brakes, 3) Steering/front end/suspension, 4) Tires, 5) Lights, 6) Windshield/Other Glass, 7) Wipers/Blades, 8) Horn, 9) Mirrors, 10) Fuel Leaks, and 11) Emissions.

1) Seatbelts.  Seatbelts didn’t exist in 1929.  My car doesn’t have them.  I can’t get a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt and the car can’t be failed for the absence of seatbelts. Seatbelts became standard in 1965.

2) Brakes.  Cars in 1929 had brakes and parking brakes. Somewhere in the late 1920s it was mandated that they be on separate systems.  Truth be told, as long as the car stops when pulling into the inspection station garage, the inspector is not likely to check the brakes.  There is no concern over hydraulic pressure or things like that.  The brakes on the Phaeton are MECHANICAL.  To be legal, I just need working brakes and a working parking brake. 

3) Steering/Front End/Suspension/Chassy/Wheel Fasteners.  Is the car holding together?  An inspector is supposed to look over the car and make certain it isn’t falling apart and that the wheels aren’t about to pop off.   Regardless of on an old car or new, I’ve yet to see someone actually check this.  I will note that I did tighten the nuts that keep the rear wheels attached to the rear axle before I went to Boston.  They were LOOSE.

4) Tires.  Bald or not. Mine actually still had the nubs on them when I got the car.  The tires are likely 30+ years old and still look ok. 

5) Lights.  The Model As have headlights, a plate light, and a brake light, but no turn signals.  They work… thanks to my fancy rewiring skills.

6) Windshield/Glass.  The glass on my windshield is “safety glass” in tha it is coated in plastic on both sides.  This is not the same as today’s glass.  My other windows are curtains with clear plastic.  No glass there.

7) Wipers and Blades.  The blade on my wiper is in good shape…. the whole assembly is in the back seat of the car and doesn’t work.

8) Horn.  It should work.  My mostly works.   I honked as I drove into the lot.  It took two tries but they heard it.

9) Mirrors.  I’ve got two.  They reflect.

10) Fuel Leak.  I’ve got none… that I know of.

11) Emissions.  If the car has historical plates or is more than 26 years old they are exempt from emissions testing. 

Now the reality of it all.  If you have an old car the inspection shop will likely print you a sticker and install it.  They will not want to futz with your car and won’t know what is/was historically accurate for your car.  The inspection itself costs $10.  It would take the inspector HOURS to research what they should to deem the car as safe.  This is why it is important to do your own inspection and/or participate with a Model A Club safety check.  My car isn’t as safe as today’s cars.  I have fewer safety features, no air bag, no seat belts, no crumble zones, no antilock brakes…. at the time it was manufactured, my car was considered a “safe” car with lots of modern features. 

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