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International Automotive Technicians Network
Re: Max Readiness Monitors
Posted to Emissions Forum on 9/24/2013

Hello, Ciro.

I'm in the same boat as you:


There are consequences to inspecting marginal vehicles, because STAR has elected to place 100% of the blame for follow-up failures on the last inspector to pass it, not the owner who neglects or tampers, nor the follow-up inspector, who may be over-zealous or incompetent.

I have a serious problem with my FuPR, and apparently it has a serious problem with me, until just recently, when it improved significantly, as if by 'magic'. I have been working in the same neighborhood, with the same customers, doing the same job for over 12 years, and I was shocked and insulted by STAR's public insistence that I am dishonest and/or incompetent.

Back to Max Monitors. You are not required by regulation to pre-screen vehicles for monitors, either at or above the prescribed limit. It is strongly hinted that you may decide to reject these specimens to protect your FuPR, but at the expense of your SVFR, unless you implement the shady practice of rejecting Max-Incompletes but accepting and failing the TooMany-Incompletes.

The part that irks me to no end is that the FuPR is alleged to be an INSPECTION PERFORMANCE measure, and I have seen literally thousands of examples of vehicles that can temporarily pass a thorough, legitimate inspection ... for a while! Although trouble can attach itself to any shop or inspector, Test-Only centers get the worst treatment by this ridiculous affront to logic and reason, because they can only inspect or reject, not maintain or repair. The only recourse is to add "repair-and-maintenance cop" to the inspector's list of duties.

I do not approve of incompetent, incomplete, or improper repairs, but have witnessed countless examples, since the customer has complete control over the maintenance, diagnosis, and repair of his or her vehicle, while at the same time bearing NONE of the blame in the eyes of STAR for any wrong-doing in this area. I have even been forced to participate in many of the incomplete ones, due to lack of time or lack of customer funds. In many cases, I have diagnosed and completed a comprehensive list of problems on the vehicle, only to find the list 'cherry-picked' by the service writer/customer, for the above reasons. I don't cheat these vehicles through ... they pass or fail on their own merits, but I'm left holding the bag of s**t for the ones that struggle through, when they fail the next inspection FOR ANY REASON UNDER THE SUN:

1) The repairs were incompetent, because the customer diagnosed and repaired his or her own vehicle based on advice from a 'parts professional', a family member, neighbor, or friend, or an internet forum. Somehow, the vehicle chugs through, at the legally prescribed limits.

2) The maintenance and/or repair history is incomplete or non-existent, for a variety of reasons, none of them having anything to do with the inspector.

3) The 'follow-up' inspector recognizes the vehicle as a FuPR killer, and finds a reason (any reason, no matter how strict or improper) to fail it. His or her SVFR is 'rewarded', regardless of the legitimacy of the reason, and the previous inspector's FuPR is penalized.

4) The 'follow-up' inspector is incompetent, and fails the vehicle for a completely improper reason (such as pinching an A/C line during an LPFET test).

The STAR program claims to have a noble intent: pin-point and neuter incompetence and dishonesty. It is indeed a noble intention, but its implementation and execution suck out loud, because many competent, law-abiding techs are caught in the cross-fire, while incompetent, law-breaking techs (with at least some self-awareness) escape through the cracks. It's a 'shot-gun' attempt at a solution, not unlike a 'shot-gun' attempt at an emissions repair, which is properly frowned-upon by those of us who know and care.

So, how can an inspector stuck in a demographic rut try to avoid problems qualifying for STAR?

1) Wait for someone (far more influential than I am) to raise these concerns in a way that causes change for the better.

2) Avoid passing too many vehicles that you suspect are likely to fail in the next renewal cycle. A crystal ball shouldn't be necessary; if you've been around for a while, you should be able to recognize (and reject or fail) most of them. If you are your own boss, you will have to survive on the remaining customer base, since news of your prejudice will get around, and changing these types is beyond the powers of most mortals. If you are NOT your own boss, you will probably have to find work elsewhere.

3) Turn your business into a charity, whereby maintenance and complete repairs for the un-intelligent or under-privileged vehicle owners are completed before the scheduled renewal inspection. Keep thorough records of your customers, because you will need a steady stream of initial fails for customers coming from elsewhere to prop up your SVFR. A low SVFR means that you are cheating, at least in the eyes of STAR. Don't fail too many returning customers, because that will destroy your FuPR. A low FuPR means that you are cheating, at least in the eyes of STAR.

... of course, if you choose to work elsewhere, be advised that the stigma of the tortured cars you have touched will be publicly carried with you in your FuPR, like a bad facial tattoo, for all potential employers to see ... I don't think that the older scores drop off the record, ever.

Take care,

Michael Barry
Quick Stop Smog & More
Sacramento, California, USA