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Heads up, Texas drivers! You may have been incorrectly charged for your auto inspection

One driver flagged an erroneous charge that happened three different times. He wonders how many more times it has happened.

DALLAS — I told you in January that if you wanted an electric vehicle (EV), you might want to get it fast while the rules on EV incentives were still being finalized. 

Well, now the proposed rules have been written

And under the new guidance, some models no longer get the full $7,500 federal credit. It’s expected far more vehicles will qualify next year now that the rules are fully known. But some versions of the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are among the vehicles that qualify for the full incentive. And that is significant. 

Here’s why: According to state data compiled by the Dallas Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition and the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Texas now has almost 200,000 EVs on the road. 

And of all the different brands and models, Tesla’s 3 and Y cars account for a huge chunk (almost half) of all the electric vehicles registered in this state. 

By the way, they find that DFW leads the state in electric rides.

On the subject of EVs, look out for the emissions inspection

On the subject of electric vehicles, several years ago while I was filling up my gas-powered car, I went into the convenience store. I needed a cup…no soda or ice or water…just a cup. How much for that? I was told it was the same price empty as it would be filled with a megadose of sugary caffeine. Which I thought was ridiculous. 

But, a guy named Steve just topped my story when he flagged, "Another unfair practice for the unknowing consumer." 

He says he and his family members took their three electric vehicles (one in Houston and two in Dallas) to get new inspection stickers and that they were charged $25.50 per car, which was the government-mandated price for a complete state auto inspection.

A small part of the charge covered the safety test. But most of the $25.50 was for the emissions test. 

Let’s combine my ridiculous cup story now with Steve’s story. The safety test would be the cup he needed. The emissions test would be the soda that he was charged for even though he wasn't getting that.

Wait, an emissions test for an EV?

An electric vehicle that doesn’t burn gas also doesn’t have emissions. Which means there’s no way to test for that. Which means they shouldn’t be charging for that. 

Steve says, "I looked at the paperwork and caught it." He protested it and he says the testers told him, "The software they use…automatically charges (the full) $25.50."

That’s $18.50 more than it should be charging. It’s not a huge amount of money, but multiply that by the number of EVs in Texas, and that is a big number. 

As Steve reasoned, "If it happened at two dealerships in Dallas and one in Houston, I am willing to bet consumers are being charged throughout the state."

When he fought it, he says the testers "begrudgingly" refunded that portion of the three inspections. 

Why begrudgingly if it was just a mistake? 

The state weighs in...

I reached out to the Department of Public Safety, which sent this response: 

“Because there are no emission components on electric vehicles, an electric vehicle is only required to have a safety only inspection. When conducting a vehicle inspection in an emissions county/at an emissions inspection station, the inspector should select “SAFETY ONLY” inspection on the emissions analyzer. This will prompt the analyzer to bypass the emissions part of the inspection and allow the inspector to enter the safety inspection information. It will also prompt the analyzer to display the correct inspection fee for the safety only inspection which is $7.00. This process should be used for all vehicles that do not require an emissions test – that would include electric vehicle, diesel-powered vehicles and those that do not fall into the 2-24 year age range.”

DPS says, “It does appear the stations your viewers visited did not follow the proper procedures,” so the agency also asked for the names of the inspection businesses Steve used so they could reach out to them. 

If you have a complaint about this happening to you, you can tell DPS directly by clicking here.

Much of this could become a non-issue if the governor signs a bill approved by the legislature that would eliminate the required vehicle safety inspection in Texas, but would still require emission testing in the state's most populated counties.

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