Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Second time's a charm on the smog test

With my birthday next week, my renewal for my plate sticker was due. As is the case every other year, I also had to get an emission test for my trusty Oldsmobile -- still managing to go on the road after nearly 19 years. So last week I took my car to a certain chain shop, best known for a certain auto part -- by far the leader in quality in North America -- but with a rather uncertain reputation for other repairs. I flunked the test -- big time -- but still had to pay the mandatory fee of $37.10 -- and then asked for an appointment to see if my car needed repairs or just a retest. The counterperson told me the diagnostic would cost $114.95, payable even if nothing was wrong with the car; and there were still no guarantees that it would pass a retest.

Given the cap on repairs of $450, this actually gave me some pause.

So the next day, I decided I needed a second opinion and called the dealer where my parents bought the car so long ago. I went in for the test. And I passed, marginally but still within the parameters set by the government as being a "clean" car. Ten minutes later, I got my sticker for next year.

Is it just me, or do people have better luck with car dealers (or to be more exact those with the dynamometers required for the test) when running the smog test as opposed to "the other guys," meaning aftermarket parts and repair shops? I probably should have gone to the dealer in the first place, but maybe it was just my unlucky day last week.

Consider, however, that after the GST (gotta love the fact Harper gets a cut on the deal!) the 35 dollar fee is split -- with the shop getting 20 bucks and the provincial government 15. The average labour rate in auto shops these days is about a hundred bucks an hour. So on a twenty minute test, the tester, (dealer or otherwise) actually loses money on the proposition unless they get a lot of cars flunking. There's something else; nearly 70% of the province -- the area north of Algonquin Park -- is exempt from the smog test on the grounds that bad air isn't really a problem up there.

Oh yeah? I thought they had nickle mines in Sudbury and a huge paper mill in Fort Frances that's the province's worst industrial polluter. And the westward winds blow that stuff our way, eventually, on top of the ambient smog we deal with every day. There may be a rationale for Northerners to pay a lower sticker fee -- after all, public transportation is spotty at best in the major cities and non-existent in the rest of the vast frontier. They should get their cars checked too. A polluting car is a polluting car no matter where its blowing bad smoke.

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07/09/2006 5:38:42 PM

Your space is nice.
And I think Canada is very beatiful!!!
Kisses from Spain*

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