Massachusetts Motorist FAQs
1. Information for Motorists: General Inspection Questions Information for Motorists: General Inspection Questions
2. Safety Specific Questions
3. Emission Inspection Questions
4. Commercial Vehicle Inspections
Information for Motorists: General Inspection Questions
Where can I find the description of the OBD diagnostic codes that shows up on my Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR)?
For detailed information on the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that appear on your VIR, bring your vehicle to a Registered Repair shop. To find an emissions repair shop, visit: http://www.massvehiclecheck.com/find_emissions_repair.php
What are Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) listed on my Vehicle Inspection Report?
A DTC is an alphanumeric code that is stored in your vehicle’s onboard diagnostic (OBD)
computer system when it detects an emissions-related problem. The DTC helps a trained repair technician pinpoint the
problem’s cause. DTCs that cause your vehicle’s “check engine” light to come on are read during your OBD emissions
test and printed on your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR). Some DTCs have the same meaning for all vehicles, while
others are manufacturer-specific. In today’s high-technology vehicles, emissions-related problems can be caused by
more than just the engine. The transmission, anti-lock brakes, body control module and even the power steering system
can cause excessive emissions.
There is a popular misconception that a DTC identifies a specific component that is faulty. While this may happen in some cases, there are many more instances in which it identifies only a symptom and the trained repair technician uses this information to narrow down the cause of the problem.
How can I get a copy of my VIR?
Any inspection station can reprint your VIR, using your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number or “VIN.” You can also print a copy yourself from this web site. Be sure to have your vehicle registration handy because you will need your vehicle identification number (VIN), your license plate number and license plate “type.”
Where does the VIR explain why my vehicle failed its inspection?
The results of your vehicle’s safety inspection are found on Page one of your VIR, and your vehicle’s emissions test results are found on Page two. These sections list the specific reasons why your vehicle failed.
Safety Specific Questions
The VIR states that the manufacturer has issued a recall on my vehicle. What should I do?
Contact your dealer or the vehicle’s manufacturer to determine if the recall repairs have been made.
What if the recall on the VIR happened before I owned my vehicle?
Depending on the subject of the recall, you may need to find out whether the problem was repaired by the previous owner. Please contact a dealer or the manufacturer for more information on a specific recall.
What happens if I get pulled over by police when I have a safety rejection sticker but have already scheduled an appointment to have repairs made?
You should not drive a vehicle that has failed its safety inspection and has not been repaired. If you continue to drive your vehicle without repairing the safety defects that caused it to fail its inspection, you may be cited by police for operating an unsafe vehicle. Once repairs have been made, your Certificate of Rejection allows you to operate your vehicle for up to 60 days, so you can bring it in for its re-test.
Is my green plate still valid?
The green and white plates are still acceptable as long as they are not worn, damaged or otherwise illegible.
Emission Inspection Questions
My vehicle failed its inspection for non communication. What should I do?
Take your vehicle to a Registered Repair Shop to determine why its computer was not able to communicate with the inspection station’s testing equipment.
My inspector told me that I have to take my car to a Motorist Assistance Center (MAC). What will happen when I go there?
There are a number of reasons why your vehicle may have been referred to a MAC, including readiness assistance, program evaluation and consumer protection. MAC technicians will perform additional analysis of your vehicle based on the reason for the referral. They will be able to answer your questions and explain the why your vehicle was referred.
I took my vehicle in for its free re-test within 60 days of the initial inspection, but was charged for another inspection. Why?
If you do not believe you used your one free re-test, please call the Motorist Hotline at 866-941-6277 to find out why you were charged again. If you should not have been charged for your re-test, the Hotline staff will explain the refund procedure. Remember that you are entitled to one free re-test within 60 days at the station that initially inspected your vehicle. If you choose to go to a different station for the re-test, you will be charged for each subsequent re-test.
I had my initial inspection more than 60 days ago. If I go back for an inspection, pay the full amount and fail again, will I get another 60 days or is the 60 days counted only from the initial inspection date?
The 60 days is counted from the original inspection date.
The inspection station told me it was a Registered Emissions Repair Shop, but it is not listed on the website. How should I proceed?
Call the Motorist Hotline at 866-941-6277, to find out whether the station is, in fact, a Registered Emissions Repair Shop.
I want to apply for an Emissions Waiver or Economic Hardship Extension. What is the first step?
You should call the Motorist Hotline at 866-941-6277 after your vehicle fails its initial inspection to begin this process.
I had a Registered Emissions Repair Shop prepare a repair estimate so that I could apply for an Economic Hardship Repair Extension. How can I find out if the amounts listed are eligible?
Call the Motorist Hotline at 866-941-6277 for assistance in determining your eligibility for an Economic Hardship Repair Extension.
Do I need to take my vehicle to the MAC when I go for an appointment to determine my eligibility for an Emissions Waiver or Economic Hardship Extension?
Yes, your must bring your vehicle for any MAC appointment.
How much do I need to spend to qualify for an Emissions Waiver if my vehicle failed for the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)?
This would depend on the DTCs involved, and the model year of your vehicle. Call the Motorist Hotline at 866-941-6277 for help in determining this.
I performed a few repairs to my vehicle myself before getting additional repairs done at a Registered Emissions Repair Shop, and then took it back to the original inspection station for a re-test. If I apply for an Emissions Waiver, will the repairs I did myself count toward my eligibility?
No, only repairs performed by a Registered Emissions Repair Shop may be applied to the waiver eligibility threshold.
Why do I have to go for a re-test before applying for a waiver, if I know my vehicle is going to fail?
The re-test helps evaluate the effectiveness of the repairs made to your vehicle and determines whether any conditions exist that would make your vehicle ineligible for a waiver. Vehicles with certain problems that cause excessive emissions, such as catalytic converter failure, do not meet waiver criteria.
May I apply for a waiver if my 60 days have run out?
Yes, you may.
Commercial Vehicle Inspections
When does a single rear wheel (SRW) truck in commercial use require a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Inspection?
An SRW truck in commercial use requires a CMV inspection when the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating is 10,001 or more pounds; or the vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver); or the vehicle is used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding under U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations
Does a truck over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) with a commercial plate that is used for personal uses require a CMV inspection?
Does a truck over 10,000 pounds GVW with a passenger plate that is used for personal use require a CMV inspection?
When does a commercially used trailer require a CMV inspection?
When the trailer has a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating over 3,000 pounds; or the gross combination weight rating of the vehicle plus the trailer is 10,001 or more pounds.
What vehicles are required to have a reverse alarm?
For the purpose of this paragraph, the term commercial motor vehicle or trailer shall mean a bulk tank carrier delivering gasoline or other flammable material.” School buses are also required to have a reverse alarm; 7D vehicles are not required to have a reverse alarm. According to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90: Section 7: “Every commercial motor vehicle, or trailer weighing, with its load, more than twelve thousand pounds, and used to deliver gasoline or other flammable material, shall be equipped with an audible warning system when the vehicle's transmission is in reverse.
What is a “hoist alarm” and are all trucks are required to have one? What about dump trucks, dump trailers, boom trucks, wreckers, catch-basin cleaners, roll-offs?
Again, referencing Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90: Section 7: “Every motor vehicle truck with dump bodies shall be equipped with an adequate audible warning system to alert the operator when the dump body is in an upright and elevated position.”
Is the inspector required to sign (and thereby certify) the CMV vehicle inspection report (VIR) when a vehicle fails the inspection?
The inspector is required to sign all CMV VIRs, regardless of whether vehicles pass or fail their inspections. An inspection is not valid without this signature.
Why did RMV implement the CMV inspection?
RMV implemented the CMV inspection in response to industry requests for a single inspection that included both FMCSA (DOT) and State Motor Vehicle Inspection.