News

It will be easier to see mistakes by Pa. mechanics next year

Written by Ed Mahon/The York Daily Record | Dec 13, 2017 10:55 AM
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In this file photo, Greg Stone, a quality assurance officer for the state, left, with Marvin Heath, a PennDOT mechanic supervisor, checks to see the tool room has the proper equipment for vehicle inspections during a surprise audit at a PennDOT facility in Manchester Township in August 2015. The station, which does safety inspections, was found to be in compliance. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel/York Daily Record, Sunday News)

(York) -- If you want to find out if your barber or dentist has gotten in trouble with the state, that's pretty easy. The state posts that information online.

But if you want to know about penalties for your mechanics and the stations where they work, that's not so simple.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation does not put sanction information online for vehicle inspection stations that pass cars they shouldn't, mislead customers or make other mistakes.

In 2015, after an open records request from the York Daily Record for station sanction information, a spokesman for the agency said officials were considering adding that information online.

Now, the department expects some sanction information will be available online for consumers to see by the spring of 2018.

The move is "part of a larger modernization project of the inspection system," said PennDOT community relations coordinator Alexis Campbell.

As a follow-up to a 2015 investigation into the vehicle inspection process, the York Daily Record asked PennDOT for all sanction notices in 2016 for York County stations.

PennDOT's response included more than a dozen vehicle inspection stations in York County that were penalized with a fine, suspension, or points in lieu of a suspension. Sometimes the stations appealed, and in at least one case the sanction didn't begin until 2017. Here is list of those stations.

La Solucion Auto Repair, 500 block of East Market Street, York

Sanction type: Emission and safety

Reason: The station received sanctions at different points.

For emission inspections, it was sanctioned for: failure to produce records upon demand by department quality assurance officer or other authorized commonwealth representative or agent (twice); furnish, lend, give, sell or receive a certificate of inspection without inspection; fraudulent record keeping.

For safety inspections, it was sanctioned for: improper record keeping; improperly assigning certificate of inspection and improper security of certificate of inspection.

Station response: A station representative could not be reached for comment. 

Sanction: at least three-month emission suspension; at least six-month emission suspension; two-year emission suspension; and $5,000 fine for emission sanctions; four-month safety suspension 

Sipe's Repair Service, 700 block of North Hartley Street, York

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Failure to produce records, certificates of inspection, signature cards, certificate of appointment or mechanic card upon demand by inspection station supervisor or authorized representative of the department; and failure to report discontinuance of business

Station response: A station representative could not be reached for comment.

Sanction:  At least 14-month suspension

Joel Tire Repair, 1000 block of Mount Rose Avenue, Spring Garden Township

Sanction type: Emission

Reason: Furnish, lend, give, sell or receive a certificate of emission inspection without inspection; and fraudulent record keeping, including the lesser offenses of improper record keeping and careless record keeping

Station response: The station appealed the original sanction in the York County Court of Common Pleas, saying the certificates were in fact issued after inspection. The two sides reached a settlement.

Sanction: One-year suspension, with credit for three months, and a $2,000 fine 

Foreign Cars R Us, 400 block of North Sherman Street, Spring Garden Township

Sanction type: Emission

Reason: Furnish, lend, give, sell or receive a certificate of emission inspection without inspection

Station response: Garage manager John Stull said the mechanic who performed the inspection suffered a heart attack that day, which caused him to make a mistake during the inspection. He said the mechanic went to the hospital immediately after finishing the inspection.

"For the station to get fined was ridiculous because the station didn't do anything wrong," Stull said.

The station appealed in the Court of Common Pleas and the two sides reached an agreement.

Sanction: One-year suspension with 10 months credit, plus a $1,000 fine

Roberts York County Choppers, 500 block of Baltimore Street, Hanover area

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Faulty inspection of equipment or parts

Station response: The station appealed in Common Pleas court, saying no one from the station intentionally or fraudulently committed the inspections. The station's attorney also argued that there was reasonable doubt in the case, and that it was possible the truck was OK when Roberts York County Choppers inspected it. The two sides reached an agreement.

Owner Rusty Roberts Sr. said "everything was perfect" when his station inspected the truck. Roberts said the vehicle was sold by a dealer and then driven hundreds of miles by the customer before another mechanic said the ball joints were out of compliance.

"My argument was you can hit a pothole and knock something out of whack," Roberts said.

He said he paid about $3,800 in legal fees and agreed to the settlement, because he was worried about a worse sanction.

Sanction: One-year suspension with credit for six months

Rodney's Auto Sales & Repair, 400 block of North George Street, York

Sanction type: Emission

Reason: Furnish, lend, give, sell or receive a certificate of emission inspection without inspection; and fraudulent record keeping, including the lesser offenses of improper record keeping and careless record keeping

Station response: The station appealed in Common Pleas court. Attorney Ed Paskey said the alleged improper inspections were the result of a mistake, not any intentional or fraudulent actions. The two sides reached an agreement

Sanction: One-year suspension with six months of credit; and $2,500 fine 

Beasley Ford Lincoln, 1800 block of Whiteford Road, Springettsbury Township

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Inspection by uncertified mechanic (inspecting vehicles over 17,000 pounds without the proper certification)

Station response: The station appealed an original four-month suspension in the Court of Common Pleas, saying the station did not engage in or permit the alleged conduct.

Sanction: A judge approved delaying the suspension. The station later withdrew the appeal, and the case was discontinued as both sides agreed that a suspension had been served in full. Additional details on the sanction aren't clear from court records.

Franklin's Automotive Service, 400 block of Range End Road, Dillsburg area

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Improperly assigning certificate of inspection 

Station response: The station declined to comment for this article. 

Sanction: Two-month suspension

Level Up Performance, 100 block Willis Road, York area

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Faulty inspection of equipment or parts

Station response: A station representative could not be reached for comment.

Sanction: Two-month suspension

J & K Salvage, 1000 block of Kings Mill Road, Spring Garden Township

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Faulty inspection of equipment or parts and improper record keeping

Station response: A station representative could not be reached for comment.

Sanction: Two points in lieu of a suspension. A station is eligible for points if it can prove it provided proper supervision. Additional points can lead to a suspension.

Capehorn Transmission Inc., 2800 block of Cape Horn Road, Red Lion area

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Faulty inspection of equipment or parts

Station response: The station declined to comment for this article.

Sanction: Two-month suspension

4U Automotive Services, 2500 block of Delta Road, Brogue area

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Faulty inspection of equipment or parts

Station response: A station representative said the vehicle was fine when his station inspected it and it was damaged later. His station didn't fight the sanction because it would have cost too much do to so, the representative said.

Sanction: Two-month suspension

Bob's Place, 3200 block of North Susquehanna Trail, Manchester Township

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Bad check

Station response: A station representative could not be reached for comment.

Sanction: At least two-month suspension 

Lopez Auto Lot, 1000 block of Chanceford Avenue, York

Sanction type: Safety

Reason: Failure to give a written receipt or work order to customer, or to list required information on work order

Station response: The station appealed in the Court of Common Pleas. The two sides reached a settlement

Owner Christopher Lopez said he's changed the record-keeping process at the business since the sanction.

"I tried doing things the right way the first time," Lopez said.

But he thinks he could have taken more precautions.

"That's what I do now," Lopez said.

Sanction: One-month suspension 

About the sanctions list: Information is based on documents provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. In some cases, the violation occurred in a different year, but the final sanction notification was delayed. The YDR list does not include: sanctions that are on hold pending a court decision; stations that were given warnings; and stations that were told pending suspensions would not go into effect as long as they reimbursed the state for a bad check.

 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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