Date Published: October 22, 2021
How to: Test your bike at a PMVIC
The implementation of the Department of Transporation (DOTr) and Land Transporation Office’s (LTO) Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) may be controversial, but it’s certainly not going away any time soon. In fact, this process is already a standard part of vehicle registration in most developed countries in the world and is long overdue for the Philippines.
In the UK, it’s called MOT. In Japan, it’s called Shaken. In California, it’s called the smoke test, but still involves a lot of vehicle inspection. Whatever the name, it’s put in place to ensure that vehicles are road worthy before given the privilege to renew their registration.
Remember: for now, it is still optional and you are still free to have your motorcycle tested at a PETC. However, we highly recommend trying out a PMVIC as they have a smooth and efficient process.
If you maintain your motorcycle well, this test shouldn’t be a problem. After all, the tests are there to make sure the bike still works as it was designed. Naturally, aftermarket parts will affect the results because the usually compromise comfort, noise, or sometimes emissions for the sake of performance. Unfortunately, the LTO doesn’t care how fast your bike can go, what’s important is that it is safe and road worthy.
If you’re worried about failing, we’ve prepared a list of things you can prepare and guide you through the MVIS process.
Lights are the first thing an Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (PMVIC) will check. So before going in, start up your motorcycle and inspect all the light. Make sure you have a working headlight (park light, low beam, and high beam), tail light, brake light, turn signals, and plate lights. Make sure all are working and replace any busted bulbs before going. Also make sure the housings are fixed. Cracked or broken light housings will get you in trouble.
Besides functionality, they’ll also be checking beam throw and brightness. Yes, there’s a machine for that. As such, make sure your headlights are aimed at just the right angle and not too high up. Same goes for any accessory lamps. The standard light switch should only illuminate the main headlamp. Accessory lamps need to be connected to a separate switch and comply with LTO regulations.
Gauges are another thing checked by PMVICs. At the very least, the speedometer and fuel gauges should be working. Some riders may not think it’s important or ruins the look, but this is an essential part of the vehicle check list. Make sure they are backlit when the lights are turned on and they are in working order and no warning lights (check engine, ABS, oil) are left on when running.
The vehicle’s brakes will be checked as well, both when stationary and rolling, front and back individually. The brakes should prevent the bike from rolling when applied. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many bikes fail this test. If they feel spongy or you have to squeeze the trigger deeply, try refilling the brake fluid reservoir. If that doesn’t fix it, you may have to bring it to a shop first.
The LTO doesn’t care about your stance or performance. Your suspension should have a bit of play, give, and ground clearance. Inspectors will check for “kalampag”, ratling, or squeaks. They have a machine designed to simulate potholes. So make sure your bike can absorb these properly without bouncing too much after.
5. Check for leaks
Another thing inspectors will check for is leaks. Tighten plugs for the oil, gear oil, and other fluids. If your motorcycle is still dripping oil or any other fluid after they’ve been tightened, you should have them checked. Leaking oil while running is not only problematic for you, it’s also dangerous for other riders.
Cars have been complaining about the 5-year tire rule, however, since most motorcycles run on soft compounds, chances are, they’re already bald by the 5-year mark. Still, inspectors will check the depth and tread life remaining. Tires with a smooth center but grooves on the side are considered bald. As such, ensure your tires still have at least 5 mm of tread depth in the center. Any less could be a fail mark.
Exhaust is a very controversial topic, but also the most prone to abuse. As we’ve already shared before, the limit is 99 db as per international regulations. Stock exhausts shouldn’t have a problem with this, but it may be challenging for aftermarket systems. If you have a modified exhaust with provisions for a db killer, it’s best to install them to reduce the volume. If your exhaust does not have db killer provisions, maybe you should consider getting one closer to stock.
8. Check for corrosion
The bike will be thoroughly inspected and that means checking for corrosion. You’ll usually find this on the underside of the bike. As such, any parts where rust has eaten out a hole down there will be noticed. It might help to give your bike a thorough cleaning before inspecting. This will help you spot problem areas and address them.
9. Know where your engine and chassis numbers are
The last thing they check is the engine and chassis number to ensure it matching the OR and CR. No more stenciling at the LTO office. It helps if you know where these are and you can show it to the inspectors if they’re having trouble finding it. Make it easier for them by keeping those parts clean and easy to read.
The only time this should be an issue is if you (or the previous owner) changed the engine and have not registered the change with the LTO. However, if the chassis number has been tampered with, it could mean the motorcycle has some shady history. Again, it would be best to sort all of these out with the LTO before heading to the MVIC.
Perhaps another factor that might be an issue is any discrepancy in body color. If your bike is green, the CR should also say it’s green. If you’ve changed the color of your body panels, whether it’s the panel itself or with a wrap, that should be reflected in the CR.
While conducting the visual inspection, another system the PMVIC is tasked with is enrolling owners in the new LTO Portal. This is essentially an account where all the vehicle data is compiled with your personal data. It’s best done by the owner of the motorcycle as it’s easier if the name of the account and vehicle are matching. If the motorcycle is yours but not in your name, you should have it transferred already. Also, there’s only one email and phone number allowed per account. However, multiple vehicles can be added to one account. Have an your mobile ready as you’ll need to check for a verification email to input your password and activate the account.
Once the account is created, it should be easier register as well as see if there are any issues with your vehicle (like no contact apprehension notices). Simply remember the email you used to create your account and password. You can also check the account any time for a look at all your current documents.
The PMVIC test
The test itself is designed to be as objective as possible. As such, when arriving at the PMVIC, have your latest OR and CR ready. They will likely usher you to a waiting area to sit while a technician conducts the test on your motorcycle. This is standard procedure, so there’s no need to worry. Just be on-hand to help them out if they have trouble finding particular switches or where the engine and chassis number are.
You’ll notice the MVIS test is split into the categories we mentioned to check. That means they’ll be checking the lights and gauges first. Then they will check the body panels, looking for rust, and or cracks. Loose panels and duct-taped parts are a no-no.
Tires are checked for tread depth and age. The handlebars should be aligned with the front wheel and should turn left and right an equal amount. The horn must have a consistent tone and volume when pressed for a long time.
They will also check the side mirrors (must have two), which should provide a clear view of the back. Aftermarket mirrors should be ok if they’re large enough, but smaller ones or those placed in odd positions could be a problem.
After the visual inspection, the motorcycle will be subjected to instrumented testing. The first is the rolling road, which is made up of a roller on the ground. Each tire will be put on the roller which checks for brake strength. There’s also a platform near it that simulates bumps where both front and back shocks will be tested.
Next is the exhaust tests. Here’s they’ll test your exhaust volume with an actual db meter to ensure it’s objective.
Some PMVICs will have a pipe that they connect to the exhaust. It absorbs the smoke without letting it escape inside the building. There’s also a sensor in there that checks your motorcycle’s emissions. Unlike the old PETC centers, this is computer-aided. In some cases, you’ll see a line graph on screen that instructs technicians how much to rev. Don’t worry, they won’t rev it hard like at PETCs. They’ll typically rev slowly and progressively to about 3 or 4,000 rpm max to get the reading.
The last step is the light test. Here, you’ll find a device that catches the headlight beam to make sure it’s bright enough but not too bright, as well as properly aligned for the road.
After this, your motorcycle will be brought to the parking area while your report is completed and printed out.
You’ll then be handed the Motor Vehicle Inspection System Report (MVISR). This should be valid for the next 60 days, giving you lots of time to register your vehicle.
The technician will also take this time to explain to you the marks on your report. He’ll tell you if there are critical aspects of your bike you need to repair. If you received a failing mark, remember that you can repair the problem areas and come back for a free re-inspection.
Emissions and check-up in one
There’s been a lot of complaints over PMVICs, but if you actually opt for this optional step, you might be pleasantly surprised. The service quality is very good and the technicians are very professional. It’s also a great way to find out what’s wrong with your motorcycle as you can show the report to your local shop or mechanic.
For this article, we went to Steadfast MVIC at 346 Sta. Clara St., Sta. Ana, Manila. Steadfast MVIC is a VICOAP member and uses the highest quality, standardized testing equipment. This ensures the equipment is calibrated, returns the most accurate results, and is instantly uploaded to LTO’s online database. You can reach them at their Facebook page.
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