Before I get to answering that question, let me provide some context.
Just before New Year’s eve I received notice from the state that my vehicle’s lottery number had been chosen for VEIP testing. For those of you not familiar with Maryland motor vehicle administration (MVA) jargon it translates as Vehicle Emission Testing Program, and every vehicle must participate*.
Most people look on receiving this notice as a time-suck and additional fees they must offer up to Maryland’s coffers. Myself, I looked at it in another light. The New Years’ resolutions I was setting for my vehicle and personally were intersecting so soon in the new year; taking care of my car, and not procrastinating (I’ll tell you more about the latter, later).
Could it be true that the state simplified the bi-annual test into something as pedestrian as self-serve checkout stations in grocery stores? Call me intrigued!
I looked on the MVA site for the closest self service location, and the next day I showed up eager, if not excited, to put the Self Service Kiosk through its paces.
I arrived at the designated location, and low and behold there was not a single car in line to use this awesome service, so I proceeded to pull up to the kiosk confident in my ability to test my vehicle’s emissions myself.
As I began the process the instructions on the display were clear, and easy to follow. Time invested at this point: 2 minutes.
Step two was easy. Time invested at this point: 3 minutes.
Connecting the testing apparatus to the OBDII port was relatively easy. Full disclosure: I use the port frequently to collect data about my vehicle so I know this should be a slam-dunk. After attaching the apparatus to the OBDII port a green light on the apparatus appears and stays on which I take as a good omen. Time invested at this point: 4.5 minutes.
Around step 3 the process begins to bog down when either the apparatus could not communicate with the kiosk or the apparatus could not communicate with the vehicle. Time invested at this point: 7 minutes.
Not to worry, I’ll re-attach the apparatus, and allow the kiosk another shot. Confidence is still relatively high, it must be twitchy. Time invested at this point: 8 minutes.
The second attempt takes twice as long, and results in the kiosk making the unilateral decision that it’s just not worth spending any more time on us, in testing vernacular we’re hopeless. The display instructs me to find a full-service VEIP station to complete the test. There is no appeal process, think Hal from 2001 A Space Odyssey except without the homicidal tendency only cold digital finality. Time invested at this point: 10 minutes.
I go to a full service test facility, and queue up. After being dismissed by the kiosk, and then getting into the queue at a full service site it is nearly lunch time, and the traffic has swelled. Time invested at this point: 30+ minutes.
The Self service kiosk may be a time saver to some, but it wasn’t for me, therefore I am giving it the “Fantasy” rating. Hope you fare better!
See you on the road!
- – Most vehicles are required to be tested for emissions, except those that are registered with antique plates.