I spent over $1,400 on my three vehicles in the past three weeks ($800 on the Forester, $160 on the Legacy, and $440 on the van), but they were all for things that needed to be done.

Except the emissions. What a racket. I had to have both the Legacy and the van inspected and this year is the first in my area for emissions inspection.

But get this–since both cars are older than 1996, they only get the gas cap check and “visual inspection” (my Legacy is 1990 and the Ford van is 1993). The gas cap check is at least more than a visual glance–they’re supposed to put it in a machine that sucks on it and makes sure it doesn’t leak. But the rest is just a looksee.

So I got a bill for $35 for each of these inspections. $35 for a “hey, looks good to me, here’s the bill.”

The real kicker is that the Legacy was exempt because it was driven less than 5,000 miles last year. So I think I paid $35 for the sticker on the windshield and nothing else. Literally.

Hey, I don’t blame the auto places. They get their profit where they can, and they’re just complying with state regulations. But given the above, something just seems wrong.