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Jerry Tatum column: In Virginia, $20 could save your life on the road
Vehicle Inspections

Jerry Tatum column: In Virginia, $20 could save your life on the road

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It costs just $20 to get your car’s state inspection done here in the commonwealth each year. That $20 could save your life.

Safety is paramount in anything you do. Hopefully, you put on a helmet when you ride a bike, and you wear a life vest when you are out on the water. Why would operating an automobile be any different? One of the best things you can do to ensure your own safety, the safety of your loved ones and the safety of others on the road is to get your state inspection done every year for your vehicle.

Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam proposed an end to Virginia’s state inspection program. Let me say how relieved I am that this measure did not pass. The numbers show how state inspections play an integral role in keeping our roads safe.

In 2018, nearly 579,000 vehicles in Virginia failed their annual state inspection, which is an alarming number. Among those statistics, the top three reasons for a rejection sticker included issues with the steering/suspension, emissions/exhaust system and brakes. You can imagine how dangerous it would be for a vehicle to be out on the road with such issues, especially when it comes to the ability to stop a vehicle and steer properly.

As someone who has been in the automotive industry for many years, I have seen firsthand, as have many of my staff, how dangerous the road would be without state required inspections. It’s not just the older cars, either, as you might expect.

Just recently, we saw a nearly new car come in with tires that likely would have blown out in the near future. If the owner had not come in for his state inspection, he would have had no idea it was an issue. We also have seen customers come in with brake pads so worn down that their brakes simply were metal on metal.

While many car owners remember to maintain their vehicles, there often are some aspects of regular maintenance that tend to go unchecked by owners. That is where the state inspection can come in and correct any potential safety issues. I have found that car owners often forget about tending to brakes, the vehicle’s front end and the tires. Failure of any of these parts of a car can lead to dangerous and even fatal results.

Drivers may often ignore or push off maintenance when they hear a new noise coming from their car, like when the brakes are a little squeaky or the engine sounds a little funny. State inspections ensure we are keeping everyone out on the road safe by catching these seemingly “minor” issues that car owners may not typically attend to or even notice.

While I’d like to think that all vehicle owners are knowledgeable and responsible, that unfortunately isn’t the case. If the state does not require owners to get their vehicles inspected, they likely will not do it or will not do it as often as they should. State inspections are critical in ensuring safe vehicles are out on the road.

Though some folks might argue a state inspection is a “cash grab,” with the labor required of the shop and the intention of care and safety, it’s more like a steal for the car owner at just $20 once a year. I can promise you, a state inspection often is the difference between life and death when it comes to automobile accidents.

I urge drivers to remember the importance of safe driving in all aspects, and keeping yourself, your loved ones and other drivers on the road safe. And remember, whether you’re back to commuting to the office or still working remotely, be sure to take your car for its annual state inspection — it could save your life.

Jerry Tatum is the owner of Leete Tire & Auto, with six locations across Richmond. Contact him at:


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