I went to get the truck inspected so that I can get my vehicle registration renewed. I've never had a vehicle fail one of these inspections so I am always a little skeptical each trip wandering if this will be the time my truck fails.
After a 10 minute wait, it was my turn to pull into the bay. I gave them my $10 and the nice lady asked me to turned the car off. Mind you, there were no lights lit on the dash.
Three of the attendants then gathered around my cab a few seconds later to talk. I knew this wasn't normal and started to lose hope that my truck would pass. Then two of the attendants left and the one attendant instructs me to get back in the truck and start it. As I begin to regain hope, thinking it may have passed after all, she steps up to the window and says, "Unfortunately your truck has failed because the check engine light is on."
I look at her and say, "Are you looking at the same dashboard I am looking at? I don't see it."
"Um, let me get my manager." she says.
The manager, who had been one of the attendants that had a conference with the others at the cab of my truck, swore he saw the light and that the others aren't lying.
I replied, "I don't think you are lying, but can you show me what you did to get the light to come on? I can't go to a mechanic and say 'the inspection center says my check engine light is on, can you turn it off even though it's not on?'"
In defense, he says, "I don't know sir. I promise, I ain't taking your money. We don't get paid like that."
After trying to get an explanation, and all of them trying to prove they did not lie to me, the manager said they were not allowed to test me again unless I left and came back. It had something to do with a contractual agreement. It was clear that if I kept debating with them I would just be wasting everyone's time who was in line behind me, not to mention mine too.
I pulled forward and quickly weighed my choices. One, go look like an idiot and talk to a mechanic. Two, do nothing and see how long I can drive the truck before getting a ticket. Or three, pull back around and get in line again and gamble the free inspection they give you after you fail. I still had time on my lunch hour to spare, so I gambled my free inspection and got back in line.
Every time the line moved forward, I would turn the truck off and back on to see if I could get the check engine light to come on.If so, I would then go see a mechanic. Off-on-off-on-off-on, nothing. Another 10 minutes later I pulled into the bay, and the manager waved off the attendant and stepped in to take care of me personally. He asked me to step out of the truck and without doing all of the other diagnostics he turned the truck on and back off.
He stepped out, "You can get back in."
"Did you see the light?" I asked.
As he shakes his head in confusion, "I've seen some pretty strange things, sir. But I swear I saw the light earlier. But, you're good to go now."
There was no check engine light this time. The truck passed the second time through. You didn't beat me this time, Tennessee.
Until next year...
By the way, I'll consider voting for the person who promises to get rid of the stupid inspection centers. I've heard there have been independent studies that show they are ineffective anyway.