Expanded inspection reports could increase costs at SAAQ-certified shops

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The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) will implement a simplified online services platform known as SAAQclic in early 2023 — but require a new layer of information in the process. And that could increase the cost of mechanical inspections performed by SAAQ-certified shops.

“With the deployment of the new system, new instructions apply, including the one that requires certified shops to take a series of measurements when a defect is found,” explained Simon Mercier, general manager of the Association des mandataires en vérification mécanique du Québec (ASMAVERMEQ), in an interview.  

The new SAAQ report, a copy of which was obtained by Transport Routier, includes a column to record measurements in case of a defect. More than 70 defects will require such measurements if they are detected, directly affecting the time required for inspections.

SAAQ inspection form
The reports will require additional measurements — and those will take time. (Illustration: SAAQ)

“For example, right now, if an inspector finds a chip in a windshield, he or she would write it down with a code and indication to get it fixed. With the new reports, the inspector will also have to measure the chip in millimeters and enter it on the report and into the SAAQ computer system,” Mercier said.

“Measurements are good for road safety … The more precise you are, the better.”

But certified shops are now considering whether to increase prices to offset the revenue that’s lost because of the added steps.

“Let’s take an inspector who performs an average of 12 inspections per day, and 50% of these inspections are extended by 30 minutes because of the new measurement requirements,” Mercier said. “That would add three hours to a normal workday. Over the course of a full year, this amounts to a loss of 700 hours of mechanical inspection at one shop alone. This has a major impact.”

ASMAVERMEQ estimates the network of certified shops performs about 300,000 inspections per year. Conservatively, it is estimated that the new requirements will extend inspection times by about 20%. Theoretically, this translates into 60,000 fewer annual inspections in Quebec.

How much will inspection prices increase?

Will shops increase their rates by 20% or 25%? Mercier can’t say because it is not up to ASMAVERMEQ to set inspection prices.

A heavy vehicle inspection costs between $150 and $200 depending on the region, with an average cost of around $170.

“How are companies going to handle this? It’s still too fresh as news to tell. But there will be a loss of profitability and a price increase, that’s for sure,” Mercier said.

In addition, busy shops will have an even harder time keeping up with demand.

Trucking companies that are part of SAAQ’s preventive maintenance program (PEP) — and approved to perform their own inspections — are not affected by the changes. SAAQ can’t require them to take any measurements during their audits.

However, the SAAQ plans to revise the sample forms available on its website, adding space for related measurements if PEP fleets choose to use them.

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Steve Bouchard started writing about trucks over 20 years ago, making him by far the most experienced trucking journalist in Quebec. Steve is the editor of Quebec’s leading French-language trucking magazine, Transport Routier, published by Newcom Média Québec since its creation in 2000. He is also editor of the associated website transportroutier.ca, and a contributor to Today’s Trucking and Trucknews.com.

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