Inspection change could force out small auto shops

New paperless system adds costs

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

The Facts

Owned by

‘I’m not doing anything wrong. But I’m getting penalized.’

- Ross Allen, Allen’s Auto Service

BAKERSFIELD — Ross Allen owns Allen’s Auto Service in Bakersfield, and is its only employee. He sits in the small front office of his business, a space smaller even than your average bedroom, with automotive fluids, tools and basic necessities across the shelves, many of which seem to have been unmoved for years. But the shelves may soon be cleaned, and permanently emptied — all because of a new regulation most drivers haven’t even heard of.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) calls it the Automated Vehicle Inspection Program, or AVIP. Come March, it will be the state’s vehicle inspection program. The most obvious change: no more paper. Now the inspection process will be entirely digital, conducted with a touchscreen tablet rather than with carbon paper. But there are several other changes, especially behind the curtain, that have frustrated those in the automotive service industry.

Chief among those are the financial costs of the new system. The AVIP equipment package includes a ruggedized tablet, a wireless OBD scan tool, to read engine malfunction codes, a wireless printer, a wireless router and the AVIP software. The total cost is $1,624.26, plus applicable taxes, if paid upfront. Monthly payments are another option: $57.15 per month, totaling $2,057.40 after 36 months — plus applicable taxes.

But those who purchase the equipment are also required to have a “dedicated, unrestricted” Internet connection, without firewalls or password restrictions. Businesses without an Internet connection, or unwilling to dedicate their current connection to the AVIP, must begin paying for Internet service.

Then there are the costs of operation. The equipment’s manufacturer, the Parsons Corporation, based in North Carolina, will receive $2.21 each time an inspection site conducts an inspection — paid by the inspection site. That’s on top of the $6 per sticker inspection sites already pay to the DMV.

“If I could stay in business with 100 [inspection] stickers, that’d be great,” Allen said. But for every 100 inspections Allen would conduct under the new system, he would pay Parsons $221.

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  • SusanF-VT

    this is horrible! It also hurts us residents in smaller communities that want to stay local with our money! I don’t want to go to St. Albans or Burlington for services if my community offers said services! We need to keep as much spending local as possible for our little towns to stay alive.

  • Bette Jean

    Like Ross, a small business owner will be more likely to be there for you when you need help. Our community’s local businesses serve the community because they custom built by and for the people who actually live there.It is a great feeling to be known and remembered by the person from whom you have to make frequent purchases. Allen’s Auto cares about you – yes, you.

  • Ray Saloomey

    It’s actually worse than that – the $2.21 processing fee is each time you connect to the system, not when you issue a sticker; hence, a normal inspection could involve up to three fees – $6.63. By the way, once you agree to their contract, you’re not even allowed to tell anyone who the contractor is – give you a warm and fuzzy feeling of confidence? Can you say Vermont Health Connect?

    • Michael Bromley

      This was put in place by the exact same bunch of tax and spend liberals . They are ripping us off , and even cutting outsiders in on the action !

  • AL from VT

    As retirement approaches, I continue to look for a less expensive state to move to and this inspection BS reminds me to look for a state that doesn’t suck money from the small businesses like auto repair shops or penalize the vehicle operator if he / she fails to get an inspection. There are states out there that don’t tax social security, require auto inspections, and cost of living that is well below this over taxed state. Just one more reason to spend our retirement in another state.

  • Skip Woodruff

    Is there any chance of stopping this, or is it a done deal ?

  • Crystalsinger

    Vermonters, you like big government and socialism, you got it. In spades. Socialism controls EVERY facet of your life. Why do you keep voting Democrat?

  • Pat Liebrecht

    Seems to me that the end game behind this would be the implemental of a mileage tax on top of a fuel tax that is already too high. And weren’t these changes made within DMV without legislative approval. I think this is where the legal challenge to stop this should be. Enacting a fee whose proposal originated out of the department of motor vehicles and NOT the legislature.