Improperly Modified and Defective Vehicles

ClunkerProblems with vehicles can range from overdue maintenance to modifications that may be described as fashion over function. Responsibility for their correction rests principally with the owner and driver. When that fails, it now falls to the police and designated inspection facilities to either nudge or force correction. Depending on the severity of the defects, remedies can range from a simple reminder to a tow truck and seizure of the vehicle license and number plates.

Even with limited use, our vehicles eventually wear out and break down. Our legislators have established rules that must be met in order to rent or legally operate a vehicle on the highway. In general, they are contained in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations and the Vehicle Inspection Regulation.

Unfortunately, the schedule to the Vehicle Inspection Regulation is exempt from publication and is not freely available to access. You can buy a copy of it, purchase on line access or possibly read it at your local library.

The first onus is on the driver or renter of a vehicle to insure that it is roadworthy before the key is turned. I've examined a daily pre-trip inspection required of commercial vehicle drivers in the article Is Your Vehicle Mechanically Fit?

We're not required to periodically examine our personal passenger vehicles in this fashion and many of us lack the necessary skills and knowledge to do so, but it is still a good idea for someone to do it. Repair businesses often offer "free" vehicle inspections in spring and fall or will do it as part of minor paid maintenance such as oil changes. If you don't do your own maintenance this may be worthwhile to consider.

The owner may not be driving, but they are still required to exercise reasonable care and due diligence before they allow someone else to use their vehicle. There is even greater responsibility when it is driven by an employee.

If a vehicle is roadworthy at the beginning of a trip but becomes defective along the way, the rules require that it be removed from the highway without delay. If the vehicle can be safely driven, the removal and trip to the repair shop is not subject to the equipment regulations.

So, what happens when all of these responsibilities are ignored? Enforcement of vehicle repairs falls to the police.

The first tool available to law enforcement is the Notice & Order. Depending on the urgency of the required repair, box 1, 2 or 3 may be checked by the officer. Each places different requirements on the vehicle and recipient.

The least critical situation will result in a Notice & Order #3. It simply asks that the identified repairs be made immediately and that the vehicle be presented as indicated to insure that this had been done.

For more serious defects, a Notice & Order #2 will be issued. The vehicle must be promptly taken to a designated inspection facility for examination by an authorized inspector and all problems identified repaired within 30 days.

Notice & Order #1 is reserved for vehicles that are dangerous to operate. A tow truck will be called to remove the vehicle and it must not be parked or operated on a highway until it has undergone inspection, repairs have been made and a pass has been obtained.

ICBC flags the vehicle licence records for all vehicles subject to a Notice & Order #1 or #2. Autoplan Agents will refuse transactions related to the vehicle until the order has been complied with.

In addition, these flagged records are available to the police at roadside. Officers will follow up with further actions and charges, which could include towing and a $575 fine.

"So, what happens when all of these responsiblities are ignored? Enforcement of vehicle repairs falls to the police."

This, along with the flagrant ignoring of speed limits, is one of the things Police departments don't seem to pay much attention to. I don't drive a lot (approx. 5,000 km/yr) but every time I am on the road I count the number of cars I see with only one working headlight. For the past three years I have never counted less than six. Extrapolating that, it means there must be hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles with burned out lights.

The opposite of that problem is the tendency for newer vehicles to be equipped with led headlights. Whether they are approaching from behind or approaching toward you these lights are so bright as to completely blind the driver and obscure what's in front of you. I thought there were regulations about the brightness and proper aiming of headlights, but since the Provincial government closed down all the vehicle testing stations this problem has steadily increased.

That's my rant for today.  :-)

Nearly 40% of traffic tickets issued in 2014 and 2015 were for some form of speeding violation. I think that it's pretty hard to say that the police are ignoring speeders, except possibly in your neighbourhood.

Perhaps you are having issues with HID headlights rather than LED headlights. No doubt LEDs are the future but again, I think that they are in a small minority of vehicles so far.

I know people that have been pulled over for failure to wear seat belts yet obvious defects such as burnt out headlights, side marker lights are not even mentioned. Why when a vehicle is stopped for one infraction can the officer not take the time to check that all lights and turn signals are working correctly? Or is it they are incapable of multi-functioning?

I wish the attitude of the cops and general public could get past that the only items that need to be enforced are speed, cell phones, seatbelts and impaired driving.

For instance every time I drive anywhere I have to go through a traffic circle. I can't remember the last time I saw anyone signal that they are leaving the circle. I can see the circle from my house and have never seen an officer checking on people failing to signal.

A return trip for the mail and groceries is under 8K. During that trip I will see no less than one infraction.

Todays trip both ways drivers failed to signal when leaving the traffic circle. Followed a car to the store that made 2 lane changes, 1 left and 2 right turns without signaling. Another came to a full stop when she had a dedicate lane to turn into and did not have to merge to the left for 3 blocks. Obviously does not know the road signs. Another kid with a "N" plate stopped on a pedestrian controlled traffic light while it was still flashing green. Of course they waited till the walk sign came on so one lane of traffic had to wait while the light rotated from flashing green, amber and finally to the red stop. Sadly todays trip really is not out of the ordinary.

And people feel that bringing back automated speed enforcement is going to lower the accident rate. What will lower the frequency is for the police to take the initiative to enforce the MVA.


Your article on Improperly Modified and Defective Vehicles states that the BC Vehicle Inspection Regulation is not freely available to access.  This regulation is freely available online.

It is the BC Vehicle Inspection Manual that cannot be accessed online for free.  By contrast, Alberta provides free online access to its inspection manuals for automotive and light trucks, motorcycles and commercial vehicles.

The manual itself is actually the schedule to the Vehicle Inspection Regulation, so I guess we're both half correct. Only part of the regulation is published. I'll go back and amend the article.

I'm starting to think that perhaps, the way traffic enforcement, vehicle equipment and vehicle conditions are regulated needs a great big shake-up.

It's obvious from the many forums that a large segment of the population are fed up seeing a large percentage of violators driving with impunity.

For some who's blood isn't already boiling, here's one...

We all see the jacked up pickups driving around.  I would venture to guess that virtually none of them are properly registered and likely very few police officer know, or if they do know, don't care.

Under Part 3 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations of BC:  Salvaged, Modified and Reconstructed Vehicles

Section 25.20 This Part applies to a vehicle that was

(b) altered by changes to its suspension height by more than 10 cm from the original basic specification of the vehicle manufacturer

Limitation on operation -

25.21  A person must not drive, operate or park a vehicle on a highway until it has been presented to a designated inspection facility and an approved certificate of mechanical condition in a form set by the director has been issued in respect of the vehicle by an authorized person.

In layman's terms this means if you raise your truck more than 4 inches, it can't be operated or parked on a highway (street) until it has been inspected.  At which time if it passes, it will be designated as a "Modified Vehicle" on the registration.  Also changing the insurance classification.

So next time that jacked up truck goes by, be aware it not only an anoyance it's also VERY likely illegal.