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Vehicle inspection fails inspection leaving some garages with problems

Tom Kasper, owner of Pudgy's Towing & Auto Repair, Inc., left, and mechanic Bob Frazier, try to fix issues he is having with the newly installed car inspection machine. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN Gregory Ozoonian did everything the state asked him to do.

The owner of Ed & Vin’s Garage on Chestnut Street invested nearly $10,000 in new car inspection equipment and attended training over the summer. But he couldn’t complete any inspections because the equipment wasn’t working.

“This is an absolute mess and as far as I know, I am not alone,” he said. “It’s a statewide problem. The state said it would be working by October 1, but that’s not happening. I’ve been losing money every day this month because I can’t do inspections.”

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) launched the new motor vehicle inspection system and said service stations which installed new equipment and participated in training can conduct inspections using state-of-the-art equipment that incorporates best practices.

But Ozoonian said when he went to use the equipment for inspections on Monday and Tuesday, he received a series of error messages and turned away three dozen customers.

“I’ve called the state multiple times for help only to get disconnected,” he said. “When they did return my call, they were unable to help.”

Jacquelyn Goddard, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said the agency understands there is a learning curve with the use of the new technology.

“We will continue to work with our contractor until all 1,347 stations which met the August 22 deadline understand how to use the equipment and are processing inspections,” she said.   

The Registry and vendor Applus Technologies are working with  some station inspectors to get the new system up and running, Goddard said. A staff of 45 is available to assist with station inspector questions.  

But Ozoonian said the call-in center was useless earlier this week.

“They simply couldn’t help,” he said.

That all changed late Tuesday night when Ozoonian received a call from technical support.

“On Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., I was able to get in, refresh the system, reboot and I’ve done 20 inspections by 2 today,” he said. “There are still issues, but we are slowly working our way through it. This should have been fine tuned last weekend.”

Matthew Lelacheur, co-executive director of the New England Service Station & Auto Repair Association, said there

are a number of stations who are still struggling to issue stickers.

“There seems to be difficulties with the software, but the state is working one-on-one to make sure everyone is OK,” he said.


What you need to know about the new car inspection system

Nothing really has changed for drivers when it comes to the new inspection system. It still costs $35 and the requirements to pass have not changed.  

What’s new is the equipment. The program has been enhanced by the use of cameras, wireless testing equipment, new workstations that include two printers, improved sticker technology to prevent fraud and tablets for RMV field staff to use for real-time reporting to ensure that each inspector is in compliance with program requirements, according to the RMV.

Starting this month, service stations will use cameras to take photographs of your car’s VIN number, odometer, front and rear license plate, and of the person doing the inspection.  

Cameras will document the status of the vehicle being inspected to ensure the accuracy of the inspection and enable inspectors to initiate video conferencing during an inspection if they need technical support, RMV said.  

“Big Brother is watching,” Ozoonian said.

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