Monday, July 07, 2003


California is trying to kill my car.

One month ago my speedometer broke. I took it apart and found the cable connector bearings had seized up, and the metal piece that comes out of the transmission to turn the cable had snapped -- i.e. no way to repair it without taking the transmission apart. Talked to a Subaru mechanic and he suggested I learn how to judge speed by guessing. Yup. But now I have the car back in California and need to renew the registration. Got a $15 smog check coupon from the Reader and went to do it. Turns out I need the "extra special" smog check, done only at extra special smog check stations for $60.

I went into an extra special smog check station, and asked if a broken speedometer would be a problem. They said no problem, so I handed over the keys. Twenty minutes later I found out the emissions were all good, but that my car got a big FAIL because the check engine light was on, which is of course because the speedometer is broken. That will be $60. Umm, no. Umm, yes, or we'll call the cops. Umm, well, when the cops arrive in twenty minutes you might as well check their check engine lights, because I'll be long gone. OK, actually, we had a discussion about business ethics, the DMV, cost effectiveness of disassembling a transmission to turn off a check engine light, etc. Basically, this was to be a death sentence for the car. I finally paid the $60 in disgust, and he gave me a coupon for a free retest. Thanks.

Has anyone noticed that this is a total racket? California has killed the $15 smog and repair stations, and now is milking people for this extra $50. Now, I think emissions controls are a good thing -- one of the main reasons I'm a libertarian and not an anarchist. But this is a good example of how the government has turned it into a scam. And, the check engine light? Why is that part of the emissions test at all? The check engine light, for any car, now comes on if the wind blows funny. In fact, for most cars, it's programmed to come on every 50,000 miles or so for "dealer required servicing" even if there's no problem. Hmm, I wonder if the car companies were in favor of having the check engine light being part of the required emissions tests? Ya think?

This sort of thing really pisses me off. But this morning I think I figured out how to save my car, and raise my crooked middle finger to the system. I'm going to remove the check engine light wire inside the dash and connect it to the oil light bulb wire. :) So if that light does come on while the car's being driven, the car really will be dead.

Hope it works...



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