Inspection of classic cars to become more uniform
From 1 April 2021, there will be new instructions for the periodic inspection of old-timers. The main intention is to standardize the three regions’ inspections (Flanders, Brussels, and Wallonia).
There will be guidelines for the most common problems during the periodic inspection of old-timers. There will also be clarity about classic cars’ inspection methods with their combustion engine replaced by an electric drive.
Clean-up the old-timer fleet
The basic principles remain unchanged because old-timers between 25 and 30 years old will be inspected annually. This inspection is broadly comparable to the inspection of an ordinary passenger car.
Old-timers older than 40 years receive an inspection certificate valid for two years, and vehicles older than 50 years only need to be inspected every five years. In recent months, many owners of classic cars have complained that the inspections have suddenly become stricter.
The fact is that many classic cars with an O-number plate were not inspected for years under the old system. Numerous problems have accumulated during this period, making the current periodic inspection suddenly seem very strict.
The renewed periodic inspection will ensure that classic vehicles’ quality (and safety) will improve because some vehicles’ technical condition is seriously deteriorating due to a lack of inspection. Because these cars must be in better condition, the maintenance costs for owners and the cars’ value will naturally increase. In time, this will lead to a clean-up of the old-timer fleet.
Experience is lacking
The new directive clarifies which parts may or may not be modified and pays a lot of attention to the difference between an (original) spare part and a replacement part when the former is not (any longer) available.
Although the descriptions cite several practical examples, it mainly comes down to the fact that the inspectors must obtain the necessary documentation or certificates about the parts used. The German TÜV approvals are often used as a basis.
However, a lot of responsibility remains with the inspector because if the inspection clarifies that changes, modifications, or adaptations have been made to the vehicle, it must be assessed whether these are safe or unsafe.
The problem that arises is that the (mostly young) inspectors have little or no practical experience with these classic vehicles and can hardly judge whether a certain part is original or not. Moreover, the tolerances on, for example, a steering box or a steering joint should be interpreted differently for a 50-year-old vehicle than for a 5-year-old car.
Time for specific EV inspection
There will also be clarity for owners of vehicles that convert their old-timer to an EV. When the combustion engine is exchanged for an electric drive, many more modifications are necessary. In most cases, the vehicles are more powerful and heavier, so the chassis and brakes have to be adjusted.
The vehicles must have two reports. The first document indicates that the vehicle is roadworthy; the second is a complete test report according to UN/ECE Regulation 100. Besides checking the technical basics (lights, brakes, chassis), these reports are mainly checked.
The inspection centers do not have the know-how or infrastructure to test the electrical installation (battery, e-motor and charging system, and the conductors’ insulation values). On this last point, by the way, there is work to be done because even the first original EVs are now ten years old and have high-voltage conductors that are aging. These systems are hardly ever checked during the periodic car inspections…