Glenn Giammalvo is the Service manager at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales and Service in New Bedford, MA.
Glenn, who has been in the business for over 20 years, is an ASE Master Tech with L1 certification and is a graduate of The Franklin Institute in Boston. He describes the family's 8-bay shop, which has been operating for 40 years, as the place where "guessing ends and testing begins".
Here at Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales, we sell and service a large selection of late model cars in a modern, 9-bay service facility. We do most kinds of service, including inspections. The following are some observations about enhanced emissions and safety testing programs in Massachusetts. Most of the cars we see for inspection belong to customers to whom we have sold cars or to their friends and relatives. In comparison to what other inspection stations see, we get the cream of the crop. Yet, quite often, I see what I call junk. Now, I know that New Bedford is not the richest area in the world. But of all the cars I have seen refused a sticker because the customer was not willing to have the repairs done, I cannot remember any one of them ever getting repaired after they left our shop. Why do people insist they do not need a parking brake or back-up lamps? Why are they surprised to see us do an emissions test, or jack up a front end? I think the reason is that the present inspection program has failed terribly. Every day I see cars with numerous defects and fresh inspection stickers. This situation has always been a frustration to anyone in this industry trying to do the right thing. Lately, however, several examples have proved the situation to be even worse. The first was when my neighbor told me of his interest in looking for a used Corvette. I agreed, and have since looked at a number of them for him. Some had problems too numerous to mention, but the 'best' had no emission devices left at all and no parking brake. Yet, some of these had new inspection stickers on them! The second case was when a new customer walked in to find out why his car had failed an emission inspection. I opened the hood, and then showed him all the things which had been cut off, plugged, and disconnected on his poor Jeep. His mechanic had assured him all that stuff was 'not necessary.' He went back to his mechanic. Why do I get the feeling that that poor Jeep is still out there, skipping and smoking but with a shiny new sticker? Now, everything I read talks about a new enhanced emissions program, one more strict than the current procedure. Hello! Is anybody out their listening? Twenty five percent of the cars on the road can't pass with the program we have; does anybody really think these cars will be in better shape if the program is made more strict? I believe the state should run everything in test-only facilities, beginning with the standards we have now. Making everyone comply with the laws we have would be burden enough for many people, but it would at least result in safer roads and cleaner air. The new enhanced safety program is better because it deters fraudulent sticker use. However, it does not address the basic problem of the good guy looking like the bad guy. Some people say that test only stations would take money away from the industry, but I disagree. In any honest shop the sticker bay is the least profitable bay. You cannot even make your normal labor rate and there is little opportunity to sell parts. (Honest shop, I said). With a test-only program this same bay would be charging normal labor rates and making some parts sales, and customers would ideally be thanking us for helping them pass inspection.