By Jim Bennett
For The Virginian-Pilot |
Nov 15, 2021 at 6:05 PM
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Afternoon traffic on Interstate 64 is seen from the Mallory Street overpass near the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel on Oct. 14, 2020, in Hampton. (Kaitlin McKeown/Virginia Media)
Jim Bennett is the owner of Carmasters Automotive in Norfolk. (HANDOUT)
With travel on the mind, the first thought many people have is, “Where am I going?” Not necessarily “will my car be able to get me there?” The average Joe in Norfolk could probably change a tire or knows when something in their vehicle is not operating correctly, but most likely they can’t check the quality of the exhaust system or change a brake pad.
Before thinking about holiday travel, has your own vehicle been inspected?
Every year, about one third of vehicles report a significant safety concern the owner may not have been aware of, as part of their annual Virginia state inspection. As an automotive expert, shop owner, a state inspector for more than 20 years and leader in the industry, I see the biggest reasons for failure are steering/suspension, emissions/exhaust system and poor brakes/tires.But what most drivers don’t know is that if you operate a vehicle with these problems, you could be subject to reckless driving.
Even if the brakes on your car are working fine, it might not be long until they are in need of an update for safety reasons. Without an annual check, you might be subject to reckless driving if your brakes are not up to code. Not knowing about the law or that you have faulty brakes is not an excuse. The only cost-effective way to stay safe and avoid reckless driving for faulty brakes is to correct minor issues before it becomes serious.Last year, a proposal was introduced to the Virginia General Assembly that suggested eliminating these state inspections. Though this did not come to pass in 2020, it is still a topic of conversation in our government. We must educate our legislators on the benefits that a yearly inspection can hold.
With decades of experience in the Norfolk area, I know the good that a $20 inspection can do truly outweighs the potential life threatening and significant financial damage that could be at stake. The people I see in my shop every year know that they will leave with a car that is safe for their children, families and community at large.
Customers have even shared how annual inspections help to keep insurance payments lower. Car owners are able to identify minor conditions that when corrected prevent more serious and expensive problems. States that do not require safety inspections often report higher insurance rates — significantly larger than the cost of the inspection itself.
At the end of the day, my job is to make sure that my customers leave the shop with a vehicle that is safe and comfortable to drive. State inspections make sure that the cars on our roads are as secure as they can be from a vehicle perspective. We have enough work that we do not need the inspection program to survive, but our customers need the program when there is a safety issue that they were not aware of.
I implore you to think about what inspections bring to our cities. Our government should not eliminate this important requirement that keeps our city and its drivers safe. The state inspection is one of the best resources a driver has to check on their vehicles features each year. And most of all, the state inspection is keeping us all safe.
Be sure to get your vehicle inspected this year and do not wait until a problem arises to visit your automotive shop for help.
Jim Bennett is the owner of Carmasters Automotive in Norfolk.