Airbags replaced on my 2006 Honda Accord. Now I failed the state inspection

My aunt’s airbags replaced last week on my 2006 hybid Honda Accord 4-door sedan. She went yesterday the renew her sticker and the car failed the state inspection (Washington, DC). The inspection facility gentleman told her that it had something to do with the replacement of the airbags. Went back to my Honda dealership. They told me that when they replaced the airbags that the replacement causes the computer to need to be re-set. They told her that the computer will “reset itself,” but it has not yet because she have not driven the car enough. She is retired so she does drive very many miles per week. The dealership had no idea how many miles she needed to drive the car for the computer to re-set.
Does this sound right? Can’t the dealership re-set the computer or does she really have to drive it around and hope she puts enough miles on it so it will pass inspection the next time she goes?
Thanks for your help,

Most likely the battery was disconnected during the air bag repair, this will cause the OBD monitors to be reset. Usually the monitors will set after a few drive cycles.

I know it sounds sort of unbelievable, but the dealer is correct. The car’s computer is tattling on your aunt. It’s saying somebody has reset the diagnostic system, usually it happens by disconnecting the battery. The problem that creates, the car’s computer can’t spit out the safety and emissions information the inspection station is asking for, because it has forgot it all. The only way it can remember, it has to relearn by doing. And the only way to do that is to drive. In some cases you have to drive a lot.

There’s a certain method to this madness. Some car owners of dubious ethics would otherwise reset the diagnostic system just before going for an inspection, turning off the check engine light, to hide the fact that their catalytic converter was non-functional, or their braking system was on the fritz. So the inspection folks, when they detect this situation, say “sorry”, you have to re-initialize the diagnostic system by driving the car some more before we’ll test your car.

The frustrating thing you may encounter is that for reasons I don’t think anybody understands, it seems even the dealership cannot tell you exactly what amount and under what conditions of driving you have to do. They can hook up their scan tool to the car and detect that you need to drive more to finish the re-initialization process, but how much, it seems like nobody knows. If this sounds sort of Kafka-ish, write your Congressman I guess.

The language mechanics often use for this situation is “the monitors are incomplete”. In almost all cases eventually the monitors will reset on their own, after some more driving.

A little off the track but really aren’t these inspections sort of silly for grown adults? I really wonder how beneficial they really are. Minnesota dumped them years ago after concluding they had little positive effect except enhancing the inspection vendor profits.

Our esteemed Department of Health and Pollution Control Agency got together and came up with a study that said that 2000 people a year are dying from the effects of air pollution in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. That means five people a day are dropping dead from breathing the air. Now I won’t say its pure cow dung but I know some of these people and lets just say I have some distrust of their motives and expertise. Of course the answer is that we need to fund choo choo trains more, reduce health disparities, increase minimum wages, and the usual that just happens to be supported by this study. Interestingly, the picture of a smog filled metropolis used in the paper was the one day the smoke from the Canadian fires had covered most of the state. Gone the next day but it sure looked like doomsday.

I lived in New Hampshire for a while. Their auto safety inspection made a HUGE difference. Next time you are in New Hampshire take a look at the cars on the road. There is not a rusty beater to be found, unlike in New York State where they are quite common. The difference? NH has a tough enforcement program where State Troopers not only ticket drivers with illegal inspections but also pull the state certification to do inspections from the garage AND the inspector that passed a car illegally. I tried to get a car passed through inspection that, in NY, I was able to slide right through with a little “encouragement”. Nobody in NH would touch it and I was forced to perform the necessary repairs to bring it up to safety standards that would allow it to pass legally.

I lived in New Hampshire for a while. Their auto safety inspection made a HUGE difference. Next time you are in New Hampshire take a look at the cars on the road. There is not a rusty beater to be found, unlike in New York State where they are quite common. The difference?

In upstate NY they get so much more snow then NH and thus they use so much more road salt that rusted out 3-4 yo old vehicles was common in the 70’s and 80’s. So the NY inspection didn’t include body-rust…NH does. My wife use to own a Datsun 510. She bought it in Syracuse, then 4 years later we moved to NH. But those 4 years in Syracuse area did it’s toll. It wouldn’t pass inspection in NH…so we gave it to my brother who was still living in NY…no problem passing inspection. Car ran GRAT…just a rust bucket.

The New Hampshire inspection allows rust but no jagged edges. The minute the rust perforates the body you fail the inspection. My car’s problem wasn’t rust but a damaged front fender that passed NY State inspection. It was pretty jagged so nobody in NH would pass it.

... take a look at the cars on the road. There is not a rusty beater to be found...

I guess that’s one way to keep the riffraff out of your state.


When I lived in Colorado years ago, not sure if this procedure was state wide or by county, but you had to get an inspection sticker every 2 years I think. It was for safety, not emissions. During the inspection, which could be done at most any gas station that offered repairs, the shop staff signed off that your windshield wipers worked and the blades were still in good repair, that the headlights beamed both lo and hi, and the tail lights lit, and the brake lights worked, the turn signals worked, front and rear. Next – and this was the biggest job involved – they completely removed the brake drum on one of the front wheels (most all cars had drums all around then) and measured the thickness remaining on the shoe, and the drum dimension.

I’m not sure whether it did any good safety-wise. I know some folks didn’t like it, thought it was just a way to coax money out of their pockets and into the pockets of the repair shops. But it seems like it might have caught some brake problems, which is a good thing, esp in mountain country. Most car owners that I knew would do a pre-inspection in the driveway before going to the inspection station, b/c it was cheaper for the owner to get all the bad light bulbs and wiper bladed replaced beforehand, rather than the inspector doing it for you.

W/newer cars sporting disc brakes at least on the front, and for many, discs all around, there’s not as much need now to inspect the brakes invasively like that. Disc brakes offer the driver a pretty clear audible warning when they are about to fail. And the police make sure everybody’s lights work, by handing out tickets if they don’t. Nobody’s checking the windshield wipers I guess, but who’s going to drive with non-functional windshield wipers?

“Disc brakes offer the driver a pretty clear audible warning when they are about to fail”

Ha ha . . .

That’s what the radio is for . . . so you don’t hear the audible wear indicators

“who’s going to drive with non-functional windshield wipers?”

You’d be surprised what us pro wrenchers regularly see

I continue to believe that California desperately needs statewide auto safety inspections

The problem with safety inspections, they don’t make ANY difference in highway safety as measured by accidents per miles driven…Rust-buckets with questionable brakes, cracked windshields and only one headlight are not involved in any more accidents than cars that are subjected to rigid safety inspections… Auto insurance costs no more in states with no inspections than it does in states with strict inspections…People continue to THINK it makes an important contribution to highway safety and clean air but it does not…Vehicle inspections are just a cash-cow for those who perform them…

In 2009, Oregon had 1.1 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, and has no safety inspection to license your car.

In 2009 Utah had .9 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, with a safety inspection pass required to license your vehicle.

Safety inspections save .2 lives per 100 million miles traveled.

A huge difference, or a fleecing of the public to the tune of untold millions of dollars?

Emissions testing, I’m all for it and it should be mandatory everywhere. A car failing emissions pollutes the air and water. Period. Safety inspections? You’re only making the thinnest of margins of a difference in anything, nowhere near worth the cost.

^Apples to oranges. It rains a lot more in (portions of) OR than it does anywhere in UT; also lot of flat desert in UT where you can see oncoming traffic miles away. Plus, perhaps less DWI in Utah?

Statistics are all over the place but, after some thorough research of ACTUAL studies done, it is clear that there are benefits to vehicle inspection that more than justify the cost and inconvenience. Lives are saved and so is money. You don’t have to argue with me (and I am sure there are studies that may come to opposing points of view) since the studies I read used good scientific procedures and statistical analysis.

Safety inspections save .2 lives per 100 million miles traveled.

I think you’ll find those stats are completely different in densely populated areas. Oregon is not what I’d call densely populated. There are places in Oregon can drive for hundreds of miles without seeing another driver. I can’t drive 1 mile without seeing another driver…and I live in rural NH.

Hundreds of miles? I don’t think so. Tens of miles, maybe. I think the most desolate roads out west are in northern Nevada. I once drove 25 minutes at 85 mph without encountering another oncoming car.

Oregon has a few more people than Utah, so I would expect a few more incidents there just as a function of increased population. But that’s not the point. I can almost–almost–get behind mandatory safety inspections for things like tire tread, ball joints and tie rods, and brakes. But an airbag light on? 2 drops of fluid on the rack and pinion? An inoperative power window? Are these really things that make a car unsafe to drive? How much time and money are people forced to spend on these things because the state says they have to?

People either take care of their cars or they don’t. Safety inspections not only “ground” dangerous vehicles (when done properly) but also force people to think about car maintenance. Living in a safety inspection state I can tell you I have heard many people talk about doing maintenance work on brakes and tires because of an upcoming safety inspection. Considering the trend toward people treating cars like appliances and not complex machines I am grateful that safety inspections are done annually. The issue of unscrupulous repair shops using safety inspections as an excuse to fleece patrons is an entirely different argument.

In the early sixties, I worked for part of a year at a feed mill, with various tasks, including the farmers would park their pickups and talk to the boss for their orders, then go shopping. I had to drive those old pickups up into the mill and grind their corn and mix it with supplements, then move the pickup back to the parking lot.

I tell ya’, sometimes those beat up old pickups scared me driving them the 100 foot total round trip at 2 mph. But, they drove them for years that way. They knew what they had and they drove accordingly.

I’d see them out on the farm-to-market roads, tooling along at 20 mph, happy as lords. They didn’t have wrecks with those piles of junk because they drove them very slowly. And, on a farm-to-market road anyone who plows into a snail pickup in broad daylight is merely cleaning up the gene pool.

Safety inspections not only “ground” dangerous vehicles (when done properly) but also force people to think about car maintenance.

I think that’s the idea, but frankly I can’t think of very much that is legitimately related to the safe operation of a car that isn’t checked and noted to the customer at a routine oil change service. To establish an entire industry and have the state require that people spend time and money on something that is done during the course of routine scheduled maintenance just doesn’t sound right to me. Especially when the supposed benefits aren’t borne out by the data. States with safety inspections simply aren’t measurable safer than those without. I don’t think it’s about safety. I think it’s about money.

I just can’t get behind laws that “ground” a car because the power window is stuck.

@asemaster - I’m supposed to change the oil?