In order for a vehicle to receive a new inspection sticker in the state of New Jersey, the car must pass an emissions test. Owners of older and troubled cars should avoid last-minute inspections and follow a few steps to reduce costs and hassles associated with emissions woes.
Take Advantage of the Two Month Rule
Cars are allowed to undergo an emissions test up to two months prior to the expiration of the state inspection sticker. Obviously, the earlier you have the emissions test performed, the more time is available to explore less expensive repair options. One garage might only want $300 for a job while another wants $550. And suppose the former is 30 miles away from your home and the latter is one mile.
Waiting until the last minute could force you into taking the more expensive option. Driving in New Jersey with an expired inspection sticker could mean a fine of up to $200. Traveling 30 miles puts you at greater risk of being pulled over than driving one mile. And even if you do get the repair work done on Monday and get a ticket, you could also be cited driving to the state inspection site on a Tuesday. Having the inspection done 60 days in advance avoids all these hassles.
Explore Cost-Saving Measures
Emissions repairs are certainly going to cost money, but there are a few ways to save cash on the process. Again, by not waiting until the last minute, saving money becomes easier thanks to the availability of more options.
- Free Diagnostics. The minute the check engine light comes on, running a diagnostic is necessary to determine the problem. One garage might charge $100 to run a diagnostic while a neighboring auto parts store does them for free. Going with the free one is recommended because then the repair shop doesn't have to run one and charge you. So, upon learning the oxygen sensor is failing, you can simply go to a garage and tell them to install a new one.
- "Unofficial" Inspections. For a nominal fee, many private garages inspect a vehicle in the same way the state would. The garage cannot issue an inspection sticker, but any defects with the vehicle are going to be discovered. Afterwards, you perform price comparisons among local garages to locate the cheapest fix.
- DIY Options. Corrosion in the muffler creates holes. Low-cost DIY patch kits fill these holes and eliminate emissions problems for the short-term. As long as the patch works on the day the vehicle undergoes an emissions test, then the vehicle should pass.
A Final Suggestion
Emissions systems do falter, but fixing the systems should be reasonably priced and hassle free. Avoiding waiting until the last minute to check up on your system really is going to make the inspections process a lot easier.