Driving In Massachusetts? Remember Your Car Needs This First
Before you begin wondering, I am not referring to the amber pods that I recently installed on my vehicle as seen in the featured image. But let's face it, every year we get paranoid when it's time to bring our vehicle in for the yearly Mass inspection. We pray that the vehicle exits the garage with a fresh "Passing" sticker and not wind up with the dreaded R whether it's black or red. A lot of you may ask, what is the meaning of Black and Red R stickers? We'll cover all that right now.
A Black R means your vehicle has failed of what is called the "Emissions Test." Meaning somewhere there's air pollution going on. In this case, it's not technically deemed unsafe to drive but you will need to repair the issue within 60 days before you can go back for re-inspection. Not to mention it could also be affecting your fuel economy as well!
Reasons for failed emissions could be a clogged catalytic converter, vehicle is running too lean or too rich, you an exhaust leak somewhere in the system, or it could be as simple as a gas cap not being tightened all the way!
The Red R is one we always tend to fear the most. When a Red R is placed on your windshield, it means your vehicle has failed the "Safety Test." Which in this case your vehicle is not safe to drive until any repairs are made so you can go back for reinspection.
Reasons for a failed safety test could be many things. But here's something I see all the time. Particularly anything to do with your suspension especially ball joints. I can't tell you how many times I'd be driving and someone is broke down on the side of the road because they had a ball joint that snapped! Driving with an "R sticker" in Massachusetts is illegal with penalties carrying a citation from police and possibly an insurance surcharge.
Another note people it's not hard to check for bad ball joints. All it takes is jacking the vehicle up in the air and checking for any movement also known as "play" in one of the wheels.
Also take note that effective November 1, 2022, motor vehicles passing required inspections will get a new sticker with the month the last sticker expired, valid for one year. Any vehicle owner late in getting a vehicle inspected, beyond one year from the last inspection, will no longer get a sticker displaying the month the new inspection occurred.
So what about people that drive 15-20 year old Toyotas like I do? In fact in Massachusetts, once your vehicle is more than 15 years of age it is no longer required to go through any "Emissions" testing. That's right even if you have a Check Engine, ABS, or even an Airbag Light, your vehicle will still pass granted that it will pass the "Safety Test."
However, that doesn't mean you can put a cherry bomb exhaust on your 2006 Toyota Matrix XR for it to be loud and obnoxious or make smoke blow out the tailpipe!