Educating State Safety Inspectors

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
Last week, I purchased a 2002 Sprinter and took it to the MD approved inspection station for them to do the obligatory safety inspection. As it turns out, one of the items they cited for replacement is a right ball joint. I was ready to have them replace it when Doktor A. returned my call and I mentioned it to him. Of course there's been previous discussion on the topic, so I don't want to rehash that. I mentioned the tech bulletin that describes the proper inspection technique, but the station basically responded that 'the state of MD dictates the method on ball joint inspection and it fails using that method.' I tried to reason with the gentleman at the station a bit and it seemed like he might be willing to accept a differing method of inspection, but I still think he'll defer to the licensed inspector.

I am interested in hearing of others who have had success in 'educating their local tech' on how to properly inspect a ball joint on a Sprinter. Does anyone here have a success story in retraining their inspector on the proper technique? If so, I'd love to hear how you did it.
 

sailquik

Well-known member
photogravity,
This was a State owned inspection station (like where they do emissions checks) or a independent shop with a state inspection license?
If it's the state owned shop, I'd get it inspected again at a different state inspection site and bring the write up on the correct method
in printed form for the inspector to read.
If it's an independent shop, try another one that works on Sprinters a lot and will know how to inspect Sprinter front ball joints.
It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get a state inspector to change his verdict.
And, yes, anything having to do with a vehicle in MD can get very arbitrary, very quickly!
Please don't ask me how I know this!
Roger
 
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Old Crows

Calypso 2014 View Profile
One of the problems with one size fits all feel good State inspection procedures. Been through hassles with MD in years past over BS interpretations of their safety requirements. Compression motor mounts that can not separate, no way, no how although they can flex ... and are supposed to is a case in point.

Come to Texas where we can nick you once a year and you can deal with the high school dropout full employment & protective association.
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
photogravity,
This was a State owned inspection station (like where they do emissions checks) or a independent shop with a state inspection license?
If it's the state owned shop, I'd get it inspected again at a different state inspection site and bring the write up on the correct method
in printed form for the inspector to read.
If it's an independent shop, try another one that works on Sprinters a lot and will know how to inspect Sprinter front ball joints.
It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get a state inspector to change his verdict.
And, yes, anything having to do with a vehicle in MD can get very arbitrary, very quickly!
Please don't ask me how I know this!
Roger
Hey Roger, this is a shop with an inspection license. I don't have time to argue with them on the inspection, nor do I have time to run to different shops for them to do inspections. At $85 a pop going from station to station trying to educate the techs only for them to fail it anyway can get expensive very quickly. In any case, as it turns out they are still saying there's an issue and I'm just going to have to take a chance with them screwing up the "repair" (quotes used of course, because it really isn't a repair, atmo). With that stated, the state safety inspection system has its merits, but every time I get a car inspected (fortunately I don't do it often), I get this sinking feeling that I'll be grabbing my ankles by the time it is all said and done.

As far as dealing with the state of MD, I know exactly what you mean. They have been the most arbitrary of all the states in which we have lived. Before moving back to MD, we lived in NY and even NY is nowhere near as difficult as MD when it comes to this stuff.
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
One of the problems with one size fits all feel good State inspection procedures. Been through hassles with MD in years past over BS interpretations of their safety requirements. Compression motor mounts that can not separate, no way, no how although they can flex ... and are supposed to is a case in point.

Come to Texas where we can nick you once a year and you can deal with the high school dropout full employment & protective association.
Actually, my brother was a MD inspector for many years and even he wouldn't really cut me any breaks on my inspections. I know in years past MD would allow a cracked taillamp so long as it didn't allow white light to pass through but that is not the case any more. if it has a crack, it is an automatic fail. Of course, Amazon has repop tail lights for $55 so I just placed my order, got it shipped and replaced it myself.

I am most definitely glad I do not have to deal with yearly inspections as is the case in many states. One and done is good enough for me.
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
if it has a crack, it is an automatic fail. Of course, Amazon has repop tail lights for $55 so I just placed my order, got it shipped and replaced it myself.
I remember when that happened...:frown:
I was in my kitchen and heard a POP! from outside and thought I saw the van shake as a car drove by.... I couldn't ignore my suspicion and walked outside to find that lens cracked and a white scrape in my new-to-me Sprinter's paint. :yell:
Passed PA inspection 2x. Man, MD IS tough. :thumbdown:
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
I remember when that happened...:frown:
I was in my kitchen and heard a POP! from outside and thought I saw the van shake as a car drove by.... I couldn't ignore my suspicion and walked outside to find that lens cracked and a white scrape in my new-to-me Sprinter's paint. :yell:
Passed PA inspection 2x. Man, MD IS tough. :thumbdown:
Yeah, man, that's for sure. They even made me remove the tint on the front windows. :thinking: All told, I sort of expected some of this stuff. The only issue that won't be unresolved when they hand it back to me will be a fuel tank leak. I'm sure it can't be too bad because I filled the tank and it sat in front of my house for 4 days without any sign of a leak. The guy at the shop said that if the tank wasn't so full, he doubts it would have even been an issue. They didn't want to drop the tank because they height of the van was an issue in their shop, and they didn't want to try to lower it without a jack and with a nearly full tank of fuel.

Tomorrow I'm going to have them put it on the lift for me to show me exactly where the leak is. I'll then drive it until the tank is nearly empty, look at the location where they say the leak is and if there is one, I'll go ahead and repair it. If there is no sign of a leak, I'll take it back in for them to sign off on it and get the final registration completed on the van.

Did I say anything about the fact that I really dislike getting vehicles inspected, registered and titled? :bash:
 

Boater

New member
In the UK we have an annual MOT, despite there being lots more sprinters here mine was failed (amongst other things) on both ball joints. The thing is when I changed them, one side had obvious radial play, the other side didn't but I was just playing with them in my hands, not using an MOT testers pry bar (although MB recommend not using a pry bar) so it may well have shown radial play when the tester checked it.

Remember it is only axial play that can be ignored when the tester (and authority they work for) understands and accepts the correct test measures, any radial play or rubber boot damage is still a fail.
It is not without purpose that I mention the authority - the UK authority (VOSA) won't fully accept MBs statement and have set an arbitrary 3mm limit on axial play - so the ball joint can still fail based on the statutory test, even though the vehicle designer says it passes!

Don't even get me onto other aspects of my MOT - I still haven't finished the welding that my van needs to pass it, in the meantime it is registered as off the road (SORN) and kept off road since it is un-taxable. I think next time I'll take to the garage that tested it last time, not the one I took it to last time! They seem to know something about vans!
 

surlyoldbill

New member
And I complain about CA and the smogging industry...
 

MillionMileSprinter

Formerly Type2Teach
The only issue that won't be unresolved when they hand it back to me will be a fuel tank leak.
FUEL TANK LEAK?!?!?! I don't believe them at all.
The front tint, however, I can believe. I knew it could be an issue here in PA when I put it on.
Remind me never to move to MD. :thumbdown:
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
In the UK we have an annual MOT, despite there being lots more sprinters here mine was failed (amongst other things) on both ball joints. The thing is when I changed them, one side had obvious radial play, the other side didn't but I was just playing with them in my hands, not using an MOT testers pry bar (although MB recommend not using a pry bar) so it may well have shown radial play when the tester checked it.

Remember it is only axial play that can be ignored when the tester (and authority they work for) understands and accepts the correct test measures, any radial play or rubber boot damage is still a fail.
It is not without purpose that I mention the authority - the UK authority (VOSA) won't fully accept MBs statement and have set an arbitrary 3mm limit on axial play - so the ball joint can still fail based on the statutory test, even though the vehicle designer says it passes!

Don't even get me onto other aspects of my MOT - I still haven't finished the welding that my van needs to pass it, in the meantime it is registered as off the road (SORN) and kept off road since it is un-taxable. I think next time I'll take to the garage that tested it last time, not the one I took it to last time! They seem to know something about vans!
Vehicle inspections can be the bane of a vehicle owner, for sure. I'm just glad that I don't need to get it done annually. It's a total PIA. It looks like the MOT is nearly as bad as the Maryland Inspection stations when it comes to screwing things up.
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
FUEL TANK LEAK?!?!?! I don't believe them at all.
The front tint, however, I can believe. I knew it could be an issue here in PA when I put it on.
Remind me never to move to MD. :thumbdown:
I went under the van and there was signs of diesel fuel having leaked out and run down the inside the fuel tank on the side that is away from the van. I just climbed underneath, cleaned everything up with degreaser and took it for a drive. There is no sign of a leak. I'm thinking that, because I had recently filled the van and then parked it in the heat for several days, there was some seepage out of the gasket on top. They indicated that if I went back and they were able to see no signs of fresh leakage, they'll give it a pass.
 

Jasrxtx88

New member
Hey Roger, this is a shop with an inspection license. I don't have time to argue with them on the inspection, nor do I have time to run to different shops for them to do inspections. At $85 a pop going from station to station trying to educate the techs only for them to fail it anyway can get expensive very quickly. In any case, as it turns out they are still saying there's an issue and I'm just going to have to take a chance with them screwing up the "repair" (quotes used of course, because it really isn't a repair, atmo). With that stated, the state safety inspection system has its merits, but every time I get a car inspected (fortunately I don't do it often), I get this sinking feeling that I'll be grabbing my ankles by the time it is all said and done.

As far as dealing with the state of MD, I know exactly what you mean. They have been the most arbitrary of all the states in which we have lived. Before moving back to MD, we lived in NY and even NY is nowhere near as difficult as MD when it comes to this stuff.
I just bought a Plateau MH on a 2006 Dodge 2500 Sprinter chassis. I bought it in PA and it has a PA inspection. I just posted over in Sprinter Talk that I took it today to the local Dodge dealer and they failed it because of the yellow brackets and springs that are hanging below the steering components ("...could trap road debris, cause loss of control..". I have to admit it does look a little Rube Goldberg). So one of my options is to take it to the State Police garage over at the MVA in glen burnie and get an actual state police safety inspector to look at it. That might be an option for the OP. (it is located in a small building behind the main MVA building on Ritchie Hwy, Glen Burnie).
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
As it turns out, rather than fight with the garage about the inspection, I let them replace the ball-joint. Upon return, the ABS, ASR and CEL lights were on. :bash: I drive it and restarted it several times hoping the code would clear, but it didn't. Finally, I placed a call to Doktor A who indicated the speed sensor was probably knocked out of its proper position when they worked on the ball joint. He told me the best way to check it and to get back into its proper position and it went out immediately upon the next startup.

The next challenge was the fuel tank which had fuel that had leaked out the top of the sender unit. I ended up degreasing the fuel tank and drove it for a while to make sure there weren't any problems. I knew there wasn't an issue, but chose to just deal with it in my own way. A week later (this morning) I returned with the Sprinter, the mechanic/inspector did a visual to ensure there was no fuel leaking, and I now have a signed safety inspection certificate. :thumbup:

I'm soon off to Motor Vehicles to get my permanent registration. :cheers:
 
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cdman1674

New member
Photogravity- So do they retest the ball joint after replacement or do they just accept the repair bill as proof it was fixed? I am asking because i don't think i have read on the forum if changing the ball joint removes the up and down slack?
Thanks:thinking:
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
The shop that did the inspection also did the repair, so I doubt they checked the ball joint after the replacement. That's a great question. Maybe someone else can chime in here.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
... I am asking because i don't think i have read on the forum if changing the ball joint removes the up and down slack?
Thanks:thinking:
I've thought the same thing.

Replacing with an OEM MB part might not fix the perceived "problem". I suspect that any aftermarket balljoint will be of a more traditional USA design so that the "problem" will disappear because the OEM style movement will go away.

I'm guessin' though so any comments based upon experience are appreciated. vic
 

lindenengineering

Well-known member
Vic
Guys I have changed out a bunch of these.
We have used an OTC removal ball joint removal /replace tool with the lower wishbone insitu and with it removed from the frame and pressed out on a hydro press.

Yes they exhibit lots of "lift" when worn and you can feel it in the steering and when running over bumps.

Yes we use a bar to flex the suspension up and down to see the "lift" in the traditional manner.

When new they do not exhibit any lift.
Yes if you pry on them with excessive force you can see some internal deflection but it is different to wear consequences when present. In fact do enough of them and you will know the difference between internal cushion lift and that as a result of wear.

In any case I would recommend the use of a press and an adapter tool mandrel to replace them. The force required to press them out of the shoulder in the wishbone is often more than the in situ removal tool is designed to do.
Dennis
 

lindenengineering

Well-known member
The funny side of a testers life.
Coming from the UK the dreaded MOT (comes from the old fashioned Ministry of Transport of the last century ) an approved safety test advisory first introduced by the Gov in the 1960's. Originally for basic requirement of safety conformity applicable to Brakes, Lights, Steering and Tires (Tyres).

Of course its has grown in complexity and government oversight and in fact morphed into an "Agency" which is another word for an over bloated government quango!
Funny we in the West like to look down our noses at lesser authoritarian Govs in the world and their Secret Police but we call them "Agencies" when they are up to doing the same thing!:hmmm:

Anyway I used to be one of those inspectors for the local authority. In this case Gloucestershire County Council in the early 70's. Of course in "them" days there were a lot of old rusted out cars running about, which prompted the Gov to introduce the tests in the first place!

One day I was asked to test this mid 1930's wreck of a Riley.
I failed it on brakes, steering, tires and holes in the floor. It was like a kiddies pedal car to describe it. In fact it was so bad that I issued a "red 'un" basically a failure to road test it as unsafe and it had to be towed to a repair shop or the owner's place of residence. This meant a tow charge which infuriated the owner who I latterly discovered a war hero having fought Rommel and his Afrika Corps at El Alamein with Montgomery's Desert Rats.

He lived in a council house and was on welfare but he kicked up such a stink about his bloody car that even our local MP got involved to "do something'!
In turn I was brought before the "management" who ran the place at the time by two retired ex British Army bods, and Brigadier and a Colonel. I was politely told that I was young, too enthusiastic in my job and full of excess of zeal.

Hence I was to pick the car up and re-test it in a more "favourable" light with an oversight by another fellow tester who was about my dad's age!
Having re-tested the car he said "Well Laad lets squirt some grease in them thar king pins that will take out the wear; Yes he will need a couple of tyres and I can adjust his brakes for him so that they will comply. The police workshops can put two bits of metal sheet down to cover the holes!
Having got all this done, test the brakes! In those days we used a Tapley meter to measure brake efficiency and record it on the test record sheet.
Ted the old guy tested the brakes in the yard, and yes they worked--- skids --compliance!
BUT
In the back seat were a stack of old batteries which I suppose the owner was about to weigh them in for cash. All the furious braking activity has tipped them over and acid was dripping out of the holes in the rear section of the wooden floor. Ted the old tester put the car on the pit to do a final walk through when acid dripped down his neck!

Mad as a wasp, Ted tore out of the pit heading to the mens' rooms; recovered agreed with my original test, wrote another red 'un and cussed out the two old soldiers running the show!:thumbup:
Suffice to state that we never saw that bloody awful Riley ever again and everything fell silent--Until that is I failed the Ford Lotus Cortina belonging to the local Chief of Police--It didn't make him too happy--especially getting a red 'un twice!--:laughing:

That zeal will get yah every time!:thumbup:
Dennis
 

photogravity

Former Sprinter Wannabe
Dennis, great story! I'll remember this story the next time I have a car inspected and be happy that I don't have a jalopy like the Riley.

I know this sounds crazy, but as I was searching for a van I actually thought that a Bedford CA would be an interesting machine. Alas, finding one on this side of the pond is pretty much impossible, so I said never mind. I just have this thought that old English bikes ought to be carried in an old English vehicle of some sort.
 

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