1 2
dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/18/16 10:51 a.m.

Long story (somewhat) short:

We have friends who recently moved from Bridgeport, CT to Charleston, West Virginia (home of annual vehicle inspections). They are from India, and are just starting out in this country (here legally) after his graduation from a Master's program. They are extremely hard working (he delivered pizzas 50 hours a week while attending grad school in biomedical engineering), and have a young son. Their car recently died and I'd like to try to help them to get another one.

My friend has a '99 Subaru Outback that he's willing to donate to them. It has 180k or so (odometer doesn't work all the time) with the following issues:

  • CEL for an O2 sensor (I was going to try to replace the O2 sensor to fix this)
  • Minor rust around rear wheel wells
  • Brake light is on (unsure of cause, I'm going to investigate)
  • Odometer/Speedometer only works sporadically - There seems to be an exception in the inspection where this is OK as long as the vehicle is more than 10 years old

I've downloaded the official inspection manual and it's very thorough. Does anyone who lives in WV (or did in the past) have any insights into just how intense the inspection process is? I know it will be more difficult being that the vehicle will be coming from out of state (CT), and they don't have an established history with the garage that will be inspecting the car.

Any tips, etc? They're located in Charleston, West Virginia.

My initial thoughts were to go through the car with the inspection in mind and see if it's feasible to get it into shape where it can pass inspection. I'm trying to figure out the 80/20 of what's in the official inspection manual vs. what's actually important.

Thanks!

iceracer
iceracer PowerDork
4/18/16 10:56 a.m.

Why not buy a WV inspected car ?

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/18/16 11:33 a.m.
iceracer wrote: Why not buy a WV inspected car ?

That may be the right move. My original plan was to buy something local (CT), drive it for a month to work out any kinks, tackle any basic maintenance needs, and then drive it down to them.

I wasn't expecting a vehicle inspection, so that may require a change in strategy, as you've suggested.

T.J.
T.J. UltimaDork
4/18/16 11:50 a.m.

From my experience growing up in WV, the thoroughness of the inspection varies a lot place to place and depending on the person. I've heard stories of people just getting the sticker without ever bringing their truck in to be inspected (that guy drove an old beater truck with a severely cracked windshield for years) and I've also been failed because my window regulator was broken and I couldn't roll my window up. I'm guessing new to the country would in general equate to not being a good ole' boy and not getting any breaks on the inspection.

T.J.
T.J. UltimaDork
4/18/16 11:52 a.m.
dj06482 wrote: I wasn't expecting a vehicle inspection, ...

That made me think of this:

WildScotsRacing
WildScotsRacing HalfDork
4/18/16 12:41 p.m.

I'm surprised the speedometer issue doesn't have a stored CEL code for a bad VSS. New VSS might be the easy button for that one.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/18/16 12:52 p.m.
WildScotsRacing wrote: I'm surprised the speedometer issue doesn't have a stored CEL code for a bad VSS. New VSS might be the easy button for that one.

It could very well have a stored code for that, I'm just going off of what my friend said in terms of codes. He said the brake warning light is on, so a VSS issue could theoretically cause odometer and ABS issues, which I think could throw a brake light. I'm going to try to swap cars with my friend for a few days this week to give it a thorough once-over, but I'm not very familiar with Subarus.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/18/16 12:56 p.m.
T.J. wrote: From my experience growing up in WV, the thoroughness of the inspection varies a lot place to place and depending on the person. I've heard stories of people just getting the sticker without ever bringing their truck in to be inspected (that guy drove an old beater truck with a severely cracked windshield for years) and I've also been failed because my window regulator was broken and I couldn't roll my window up. I'm guessing new to the country would in general equate to not being a good ole' boy and not getting any breaks on the inspection.

Thanks, that's the kind of feedback I was looking for. I would try to be there for the inspection. I'm not a good 'ol boy, but my English is good and I understand more about cars than my friends.

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
4/18/16 3:02 p.m.

Yes it varies. It's a $12 sticker, $1 for the state and $11 for tech, how thorough do you think it is when that same tech could be turning $50+ for that same hr of work?

Biggest issues is having upto date registration and insurance information in hand on paper and not showing up at lunch or quitting time and expecting it done in 15 minutes, typical wv-er. After that, make sure the brakes are newish, tires have tread depth greater than 5/32", there is no steering it suspension play, and all the lights work. Those are all fails and you'll be back to pay again either to the shop for repairs and sticker or done at home for them to inspect it again.

edizzle89
edizzle89 Dork
4/18/16 3:50 p.m.

not to be the person who tries to get around vehicle inspections but... maybe its the time to find a guy who knows a guy who will 'pass' the vehicle for a case of beer

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
4/18/16 4:28 p.m.

Was anyone else's first thought, "Wait. WV has vehicle inspections??"

But if WV is like PA (inspections are all done by private garages with a license), then I kinda agree with edizzle89. I've been going to the same shop for PA inspections for over 20 years. While I've never tried to get them to pass a woefully noncompliant car (closest was my E30, which failed emissions miserably), they will let a lot of other stuff slide as they know I do a lot of work on my own cars.

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera HalfDork
4/18/16 8:03 p.m.

I live in Charleston and it does vary. Your best bet is to find a dumpy gas station out of town. I also like to... avoid Imperial entanglements... and used a lawn mower repair place until they got busted. There was a place in Hometown that would basically give you the sticker. The closest I've found to that kind of service is a little place right on the road between Hurricane and Teays Valley. I don't remember the name, but it's a brown/tan stone building that sells tires. Also, you have 90 days to get the car inspected after the sticker expires.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/18/16 9:41 p.m.

Thanks for all the feedback, guys - I appreciate it. The car is in my garage and I'm going to give it a once-over to see what we're up against. I'll keep you posted!

Furious_E
Furious_E HalfDork
4/19/16 7:21 a.m.

In reply to Ian F:

Yes it was lol.

Judging by the average condition of cheap Craigslist cars that I see from WV, I'm going to guess they're quite a bit less stringent than PA.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltimaDork
4/19/16 9:44 a.m.

SC dropped inspections years ago because it was an absolute joke. But, a trooper can now give you a big, big ticket for operating a hazardous vehicle (ie bald tires).

My daughter lives in the same area as Apis millifera. Her husband in the military, so here can is still licensed in SC. That saves her a bunch. I am also surprised to see WV has inspections based on what I have seen while visiting her. Thankfully, she will be leaving later this year.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/24/16 9:17 p.m.

I took a look at it tonight, overall it seems to be in decent shape.

  • CEL is a PO440 - EVAP leak
  • Brake Light was solved with some DOT3 (level was at the minimum)
  • I pulled both front wheels and the brake pads look new
  • I checked both front wheels by wiggling bottom and top, and then front and rear - all seemed good
  • Checked the oil and coolant levels - oil looked like oil (no milkshake), and the coolant looked good as well.
  • Seems to be leaking from the oil pan gasket, the bottom of the pan was caked with oil
  • Tires all have at least 5/32nds left all around
  • Glass is clear all around
  • Speedometer/Odometer works part-time, but according to the inspection, it seems as though this is fine for something more than 10 years old (it's a 1999).

Here's the worst of the rust (passenger side rear is about 50% as bad as the driver's side rear shown below):

; photo IMG_3689_zpsu19ytiei.jpg

Overall I'm fairly optimistic of it passing inspection - am I crazy? I realize that they'll probably find something, but feel like I've eliminated some of the more obvious stuff from contention.

What says the hive?

NGTD
NGTD UltraDork
4/24/16 10:40 p.m.

When a Subaru has that much 1/4 panel rust, the rear strut towers are normally ready to fall out of them. Have you looked up there real carefully?

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/25/16 5:28 a.m.
NGTD wrote: When a Subaru has that much 1/4 panel rust, the rear strut towers are normally ready to fall out of them. Have you looked up there real carefully?

I'll check that out tonight - thanks for the feedback! I know nothing of Suby's other than they had a ton of head gasket issues, so the specific rust info is a big help!

NGTD
NGTD UltraDork
4/25/16 9:51 a.m.
dj06482 wrote:
NGTD wrote: When a Subaru has that much 1/4 panel rust, the rear strut towers are normally ready to fall out of them. Have you looked up there real carefully?

I'll check that out tonight - thanks for the feedback! I know nothing of Suby's other than they had a ton of head gasket issues, so the specific rust info is a big help!

In some of the chassis, there is a ledge up there that will hold dirt and moisture. Get a light up in there and use your hand or a small hammer to check. If it's bad then don't spend a penny on it. It's scrap.

Once the HG's are fixed properly they quite often are not a problem again. I had a 97 Outback with the EJ25D that had 412k kms on it and it was fine.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/25/16 10:48 a.m.

Here's one video on how to check for the rust:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7aXbm366BE

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/27/16 12:10 p.m.
NGTD wrote: When a Subaru has that much 1/4 panel rust, the rear strut towers are normally ready to fall out of them. Have you looked up there real carefully?

You were 100% right. I checked the rear strut towers and both had significant rust, especially on the side just behind the wheel well. In addition, the subframe on the driver's side rear also had some rust that went beyond surface rust.

Thanks for your help in ruling this one out as a candidate for my other friend! Without your feedback, I would have invested some time and money into something that wasn't worth it!

NGTD
NGTD UltraDork
4/27/16 8:08 p.m.

I have owned 5 Subaru's and I live in Salt Country.

I know rust. Good to hear that you caught it before doing a bunch of work.

dropstep
dropstep Dork
4/28/16 1:32 p.m.

Weird i still have friends in hagerstown MD and most of them tag and title there cars with a west virginia address to avoid marylands inspections. Is it like ohio wear inspections are only required in certain countys? I know my friends camaro is tagged with his martinsburg address and was never inspected.

Hal
Hal SuperDork
4/28/16 6:16 p.m.
dropstep wrote: Weird i still have friends in hagerstown MD and most of them tag and title there cars with a west virginia address to avoid marylands inspections.

MD only has a safety inspection when the vehicle changes owners and is re-titled. Emmissions Inspections are sniffer on the rollers for 1977 to 1995 and OBDII from 1996 to present and are every 2 years.

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
4/29/16 8:22 a.m.

From everything I've read, West Virginia doesn't have emissions inspections, just annual safety inspections. Maybe that's why the Maryland folks are using the West Virginia registration?

1 2
S0hzdRzuLguqhmGOLmSgbAmxreIAZTK4