Woohoo! The car has successfully passed its 2-yearly vehicle inspection and emission check. The event was similar to the Warrant of Fitness I had to endure in New Zealand, so I was a little worried to say the least, especially as cars wear out pretty quickly on Slovak roads.
I had the appointment made for 7:30 AM at a vehicle testing station in Petržalka, run by the German firm Dekra. Mine was the first car o be inspected that morning.
I paid €60 at the counter which might sound like a lot of money but it covers the inspection and the vehicle registration for two whole years, so it’s actually the bargain of the century.
To be brutally honest, I expected the test to be a bit easier than the overkill vehicle tests performed in New Zealand, given Slovakia’s approach to road safety. In New Zealand the tests are so over-the-top that some people drive their cars illegally and risk large fines rather than go through the often nonsensical hoops required to drive a car legally.
Now I should point at that I take road safety very seriously (as you can clearly tell from reading this blog) but statistics prove that 90% of all crashes are caused by driver error, not poorly maintained vehicles or improper road conditions. Of course vehicles must be maintained properly, but I would prefer it if governments channeled the bulk of their energies into solving the much larger problem, by teaching and enforcing safe driving practices, instead of compulsively measuring my headlights. Ok, rant over, back to the test.
The first surprise of the inspection was how detailed it was, and how many computers were used. Because of the more relaxed approach to health & safety in Slovakia, I expected the car inspection to be a piece of cake. In reality, it was taken very seriously and in great detail.
It turned out that the inspection was actually pretty intense. They checked everything. The first step was to connect to my car’s internal computer so they could observe how the engine management was operating and if the car was running rich, lean, or just badly!
Apologies for the low quality of the photos; I had to use my mobile phone which is in desperate need of an upgrade.
I was also surprised by the attention paid to the brakes. Before the car had even gone up on a hoist, a sample of brake fluid was extracted and analysed by a controlled burn and measurement on the table pictured above.
At this point my car was feeling a little bit violated. It had its lights, wipers, engine management, and brake fluid inspected. Then the inspector checked to make sure the car has an up-to-date first aid kit, a safety triangle, and of course a spare tyre. After all that came the brake check, shown in the picture above. This tested how even & balanced the braking pressure was on each wheel.
The next and thankfully final act was to lift the car up so that the inspector could check the condition of the underside. At this stage I was glad that I’d spent a few hours sliding around underneath applying rust preventers and washing the underside after the last winter.
What was unusual about this inspection process is that once the car was lifted up, the whole raised platform violently shook from left to right so that the inspector could see how the suspension operated. I’m sure it’s designed as a safe method, but I didn’t want to be under a tonne of Suzuki it when it was being shaken around while lifted up in the air!
15 minutes later, my car had successfully passed its safety and emission inspections and I was on my way to work with brand new roadworthiness stickers on the bottom-right of the windscreen.
So now I have two years to go before the next safety and emissions inspection. That’s two years of potholes and salted winter roads, so its up to me to ensure my car is healthy and safe during that time… wish me luck!
Disclaimer: in the photo above I was stationary in bumper-to-bumper traffic on SNP Bridge. Please never take photos while your vehicle is in motion. Keep safety as your first priority.