Israel's annual motor vehicle inspections - explainer

Do you have a safety vest? Inflated spare tire and tool kit?

AN INSPECTION in progress in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood (photo credit: MEITAL COHEN)
AN INSPECTION in progress in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood
(photo credit: MEITAL COHEN)
Have you received your renewal notice for your yearly vehicle inspection or “test”? Are your knees weak, your heart filled with trepidation and fear? Who among us has never experienced the “joy” of being yelled at in a vehicle test center over items or procedures we have no earthly clue about? 
If you drive a vehicle without a test, the fine is NIS 250 during the first six months after the test was due. After six months if you are stopped, you will have to appear in court and explain yourself to a judge. Being an oleh hadash might help, but you will still be in trouble! Three months after the test is due, the vehicle will be blocked in the computer of the Misrad Harishui and in the event of attempted sale, the owner will not be able to transfer ownership of the car to the buyer. 
LET US explain the testing program and determine if we can’t cast some light on the whole mess. Once a year, depending on the vehicle’s age (older vehicles twice a year, and newer vehicles are usually exempt for the first two years on the road), a vehicle is required to undergo a comprehensive safety inspection. 
Usually a vehicle owner will receive a registration and renewal notice in the mail six weeks before it is due. The first step in the process is paying the registration fee. This can be accomplished on line with a credit card, at the post office or bank, or at any of the Rishumit stations to be found all over the country. If you have not received your registration, you can have it printed out at the post office or the Rishumit stations as well. 
You can also call the Misrad Harishui information number at *5678 and ask for a copy to be sent out. They will send it to the address on the teudat zehut of the owner or explain where the problem lies if it was not sent to begin with. For some reason, the registration never seems to be sent out in the first year after a transfer of ownership has been transacted. 
If you received a notice that your vehicle is subject to a manufacturer recall, you will either not receive the registration, or you will not be able to register in the test center office until this issue has been addressed and sufficient time has elapsed in order for notice of the completed repair to be entered into the Misrad Harishui’s computer. 
If you have paid online, it will show up in the test centers’ office computer, but you will still need a copy of the updated registration. 
You must also verify that you possess a valid certificate for the bituah hova (compulsory insurance). More than once a driver has discovered that they did not possess the compulsory insurance even though they did have a policy for other coverages, or even that the license plate number on the certificate did not match their vehicle’s license plate. 
Once you have paid your registration and made sure you have the compulsory insurance, you can drive over to whichever local test center is convenient. Expect the procedure to take an hour or so, and take in to account that after a corona lockdown there will be a backlog and the lines can be brutal. You will need the identification of the owner of the vehicle or a photocopy of the owners ID (teudat zehut, passport or drivers’ license) as well as a power of attorney if you are not the owner. A Whatsapp picture of the ID will not suffice. This includes spouses who wish to do the test on behalf of their significant other. In general, a power of attorney form comes attached to the top of the new registration when it arrives in the mail. If not, a power of attorney form can be downloaded here: 
At the test center office you need to pay the test fee, depending on the type of engine and age of the vehicle.
THE VEHICLE will then enter the test lane. The first part of the inspection is checking the odometer reading, which will be noted in the computer and will be printed on the following year’s registration form. Next, checking that engine numbers match the registration in order to verify that the engine was not replaced and is not a stolen unit. The inspector will verify correct operation of all the various types of lights – headlamps, turn signals, brake lights and license plate illumination. Vehicle windows are looked at if they are the polycarbonate type that protect against rock throwing, to see that they are not opaque and that at least one of the front windows moves up and down. 
Tires and windshield wipers are checked for wear. License plates are looked at because they must reflect properly for the sake of the speed cameras – after all, the government needs money. Do you have a safety vest? Inflated spare tire and tool kit? If it is a commercial vehicle, is there a serviceable fire extinguisher? Older vehicles will have their tailpipe emissions measured. Next is the dynamometer (the rollers) which will measure braking force of the front and rear wheels – left and right separately, as well as the emergency brake. Along the way the vehicle will roll over a gizmo that checks wheel alignment. The next station is the “pit” where the undercarriage is inspected for excessive play in the suspension and steering. Oil and water leaks are noted, brake and hydraulic lines are inspected for cracks and wear. After this, headlamp alignment, bulb intensity and light spread are measured on both low beams and high beams. Finally, vehicle emissions are tested.
Finished! That wasn’t so hard, was it? If the vehicle failed on something and you feel that it was not justified, you can appeal the results. Every testing center employs at least one Rav Bochein (senior inspector) and you are entitled to request that he double-check the station where the vehicle failed. Sometimes these items are subjective to the opinion of the inspector and are not measured by a machine. 
WHAT CAN you do in order to be proactive and ensure a positive and trouble-free result? The best idea is to time vehicle service with vehicle testing together. Recommended vehicle maintenance together with preparation for the test is a great combination and will ultimately save you money. If you care to save the shekels and wish to do it yourself, check all the lights to see they are functioning. Wash the car so it looks maintained and they do not go looking for trouble. Check underneath the car for oil or water stains that indicate a problem. Make sure the emergency brake is tight. Look at the tires for wear and deflation. Verify that the windshield wipers clean the windshield. This is all basic familiarity with your vehicle. 
You can also pay your garage or local mechanic to do the test on your behalf. Fees for this can range between NIS 200-300. In my opinion, this is worth every bit of avoiding the hassle – unless you happen to enjoy being screamed at.
Happy and safe motoring!  
The writer has over 35 years of experience in the American and Israeli automotive industry, including as an FAA-certified airframe and powerplant technician, ASE-certified master technician and California state-certified smog inspector.