If your vehicle inspection sticker is about to expire, you may want to call ahead if planning to head out to a station that performs the service, especially in Buda.
All vehicles in the state of Texas must pass a safety inspection to be street legal. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the state agency in charge of inspections, contracts the service out to private firms.
At Kwik Kar on Main Street in Buda in the late morning hours of Sept. 18, the attendant offered a friendly greeting, then dispensed the news that the business was out of inspection stickers.
A Hays Free Press employee said she twice tried to get her car inspected at the same location, with similar results: they ran out of stickers.
A poster on this newspaper’s Facebook page wrote, Justin Ivicic, wrote, “Last two times I’ve went to Kwik Kar in Buda they’ve told me the(y) were out of stickers.”
The attendant said it would be about two days until their stack of stickers would be replenished.
How does Kwik Kar run out of stickers in the middle of the month?
“We can only order 30 stickers at a time,” he said. “DPS only allows us to order so many.”
Additionally, he said the technician in charge of inspections was off-site temporarily.
Meanwhile, the attendant wasn’t aware of any other locations in town that could perform the inspection.
A short drive down Main Street to the Havoline just east of Interstate 35 proved that inspection stickers were available. However, the technician who could perform the service was also unavailable but would be back within the hour.
What is the process of ordering stickers from the DPS? One of the employees said they order them in batches of 50.
“We rarely run out,” he said.
All three attendants at that location snickered slightly when they heard about the first location running out of stickers. The employee who answered the first question said, “We get a lot of business from there.”
At the 4-Way Auto Shop in Kyle, John, one of the owners, said his inspection technician, his father John Senior, was out of the building performing an inspection. He explained how he orders stickers in batches of 50.
“If I’m down to 30, I’m already ordering more,” he said. “We do about 250 inspections a year and we hardly ever run out.”
DPS spokesperson Tom Vinger provided details on the state inspection process in an email.
That information said, in part, “All applicants for an inspection station license must submit an application to DPS. Stations purchase inspection certificates in advance from the department and issue them to passing vehicles. A public inspection station in Buda (Hays County) pays the department $7.50 for each certificate. When that certificate is issued to a vehicle that passes inspection, the station may charge the customer no more than $14.50. (Please note this may differ slightly for emissions counties.)”
Included in the detailed information was a section on the sticker ordering process.
“Stations place their certificate orders with DPS via an automated system, which is available 24/7,” the email said. “An order received at DPS by 3 p.m. will generally be shipped out the same day. (Stations should take into account weekends and holidays.) Certificates are generally available by a book of 50 and can cost as much as $837.50 depending on the inspection certificate type. DPS does not sell individual certificates. In Buda, a book of 50 inspection certificates costs $375.”
The email also cautioned that stations may incur penalties for running out of stickers.
“Stations must maintain a certificate inventory and manage that inventory, as they would any other commodity they sell,” the email said. “Failure to have certificates on hand is an offense that could result in an administrative penalty, including possible suspension of the station’s license and their authority to inspect, and in some cases, may result in charges filed in local JP courts.”
The email said DPS investigates complaints about stations that run out of inspection stickers.
“A station that has a history of failure to maintain a supply of certificates will be suspended,” it read.