Many Massachusetts drivers may not have heard the news, but there are big changes afoot in the Massachusetts state inspection process. These changes are coming down the pike soon...really soon. The new inspection process will be implemented at dealerships and repair shops across the state on October 1, 2017. Here are some helpful details about what is changing and how it will impact your next inspection.

What Is Changing In the MA State Inspection Process?

Massachusetts lawmakers recently mandated that all dealerships and inspection stations install a new 5 camera system in their inspection bays.

The five cameras include 1 video wall mounted, 2 still wall mounted, 1 workstation mounted and 1 handheld device. In addition, work stations are now mandated to have improved fraud prevention sticker technology, tablets for field staff, wireless testing equipment, and robust work stations that include 2 printers.

This multi-camera system will film the entire inspection process and store the recorded footage for RMV records.

The new program will be overseen by Applus Technologies who won the bid for a 5 year, $29 million contract to provide the oversight of the new Inspection process. However, this bid does not include the $5,000 - $10,000 cost of the camera system which had to be covered by the individual inspection stations, many of which are very small family-owned businesses. As a result, some of the smaller shops will no longer be providing inspection services.  

Right now, the plan is to leave the $35 Inspection Sticker Fee unchanged. Here is a breakdown of where that $35 Inspection Fee goes:

Station collects: $35 for the test
  • Inspection Station keeps: $23.50
  • Commonwealth pays Applus: $1.322
  • Commonwealth retains: $10.178
The state guarantees Applus, 4.4M inspections at $1.322 per inspection and after 4.4 million inspections are completed, the vendor fee for Applus is reduced to 43 cents per inspection.

How Will The New Massachusetts Inspection Rules Impact Drivers?

Although the inspection regulations will not be adjusted, with cameras watching every aspect of the inspection, inspector discretion will definitely be limited. This will force inspectors to perform more stringent inspections and will likely lead to a longer wait time for consumers as vehicle inspectors scramble to remain on schedule. 

Doug Leach has been doing MA State Inspection for Muzi Ford & Chevy customers for almost 30 years.

According to Doug Leach, Muzi Motors State Inspector, the new process may take longer but it could make the roadways safer, "There is no way to get around it. The inspections will now take about 30 minutes for a car and about 1 hour for a commercial vehicle. It is ultimately a good thing because it provides added accountability for the shop. If something happens down the road, the state will be able to go back and find the inspector, the date of inspection, and the time of inspection and review the footage."

The changes are certainly not without controversy, as some critics see it as another paternalistic imposition by a state that is already too fond of such intervention in individual lives.  In fact, it is interesting to note that Massachusetts is actually just 1 of 17 states in that require an annual safety inspection.

In addition to a longer inspection time, it is also likely that the changes will lead to additional costs for consumers. In the past, certain inspection stations may have overlooked certain minor violations to help out a customer (or in some cases for a fee), but with numerous cameras watching every action, this will no longer be possible. Below are a few examples of violations that will no longer be able to pass.

Which Issues Will Likely Cause An Inspection Violation?

If you have a state inspection coming up soon, there are a few common issues that could potentially trigger a violation.

Massachusetts drivers who still have the older green license plates that are becoming less legible or have plates that are no longer reflective will likely be forced to upgrade to the newer red license plates.

Other issues that could lead to added costs include: balding tires, vehicles with questionable aftermarket tint, vehicles that do not meet emissions standards, certain custom exhaust systems, and vehicles with a ride height that has been adjusted by more than 2 inches.

As the new processes are implemented and everything gets ironed out we urge everyone to remain patient when you come in for your next MA State Inspection Sticker. The best thing to do is to plan ahead. Schedule your appointment in advance and set aside 30-45 minutes for the sticker. We hope that this information helps you prepare you for your next MA State Inspection visit!

If you have any questions about any of the new inspection changes please feel free to reach out to the members of our service team. Anthony Fernandes - OR Carole Kennedy and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.