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January 25, 2021

Did an Equipment Oversight Cause a Huge Amount of Damage During a PMVIC Test?

Last week, there were reports that a Subaru suffered a ruined center differential as it underwent the LTO’s new motor vehicle inspection requirement as part of its registration. To recall, this new “automated” and “computerized” form of testing should, in theory, eliminate red tape within and around the LTO, and promote safer roads with actual road-worthy vehicles plying them.

In reality, the implementation of these PMVICs has been anything but smooth.

From a Land Cruiser which has an exhaust so loud it can kill a person, to inspectors declaring five-year old tires unsafe full stop, to this—wrecking a car on what’s supposed to be a routine safety inspection.

As to how this can happen, it’s very simple. The center differential contains a fluid. When the front and rear wheels spin at different speeds—like in the case of this speedometer test—the fluid inside the differential heats up. If it overheats, this fluid will break down and can cause the plates inside the differential to bind, potentially destroying the center differential.

If that few seconds during testing was enough to cause irreparable damage is beside the point. What is the point is that the PMVIC technicians didn’t know how to treat an all-wheel drive equipped vehicle properly.

According to the LTO’s own standards, PMVIC technicians must be certified as TESDA NC-II in Automotive Servicing. Based on the brief, this would make them competent, because per TESDA:
The Automotive Servicing NC II Qualification consists of competencies that a person must achieve to inspect, clean and repair mechanical or electrical parts, components, assemblies and sub-assemblies of light and heavy-duty automotive vehicle with diesel or gas engine in accordance with manufacturer’s specification. It also covers servicing of engine mechanical components such as cooling and lubricating system; performing power train and underchassis servicing and repair.
So, what went wrong? The likely cause could boil down to three things: first, that the technicians weren’t aware that they were dealing with an all-wheel drive vehicle; second, that the equipment wasn’t up to the proper spec; or third, a combination of the two.

Since we don’t have the side of the PMVIC in question yet, for now, let’s focus on the equipment aspect.

Going back to the LTO’s very own guidelines—Memorandum Circular 2018-2158 which served as the guidelines for the PMVIC, it’s very clear that they listed the sort of equipment inspection centers will need for the speedometer test. To quote:
  • Speedometer Tester
  • Automated speedometer tester
  • Type: Roller speedometer tester
  • Sensor Type: Digital speed sensor
  • Frame: Heavy duty structural steel
  • Automatic pass/fail judgement
  • 780-mm to 2200-mm minimum-maximum track
  • Maximum load per axle: 3,000 kgs
They even detailed the inspection procedure involved:
  • The inspector performs instructions from the process indicator. Accelerates the vehicle to the speed of 40 km/h and decelerates to rest.
  • The result of inspection is determined and the data is transferred to the database
So far, so good, right? Well, except that a typical speedometer tester takes into account just one driven axle. And while it’s easy enough to adjust this for a front- or rear-wheel drive, this doesn’t take into account if a vehicle equipped with all-wheel drive like most Subarus, early Toyota RAV4s, and some models of the Honda CR-V.

In other circumstances, idle rollers are placed on the rear wheels to prevent the center differential from getting cooked. However, that sort of equipment isn’t listed anywhere in the LTO’s equipment check list. It was an oversight brought on by some of the equipment manufacturers themselves. The LTO’s reply? Just shift the car to two-wheel drive (they clearly mixed up four- and all-wheel drive).

Moving on, selected PMVICs noticed the LTO’s own shortcomings, and prepared their own set of idle rollers. But take note: not all PMVICs have them.

And this is odd because the LTO could have simply specified that the speedometer tester should be equipped to handle all-wheel drive. After all, they clearly specified it when it came to the Roller/Plate Brake Tester where one line reads:
  • Capable of measuring brakes of 4WD vehicle
Going back to the Subaru owner’s tale, does his story have a happy ending? We don’t know yet. Fixing a center differential will cost a lot, and we don’t know if the PMVIC will be willing to shoulder that.


  1. Oh the irony of it. This is showing a lot of the deficiencies of LTO and everyone involved in this fiasco. LTO's comment also highlighted the ignorance of whoever made that statement hinting that no proper research was done before executing this. Unsurprisingly, some things never change.

  2. yes nephew was there and he saw a very angry subaru forester owner with his center transmission busted by the incompetence of the personnels manning the dynamic testing rig who thru ignorance of the type of vehicle did not realize that all subarus are all-wheel drives and thought it was a front wheel -drive and put the front wheels onto the dynamic testing rig...which was switched on....result the transmission transfer link box was practically turned into junk shredded steel parts...they ought and should jacked up the rear wheels so likewise Toyota Rav4s all wheel drives owners...beware and be aware... caveat emptor ba.... the Subaru has no is all-time full-time all wheel drive vehicle.... poor testing center located at Tanque St., Paco tumpok sa Metro-Bank and the Suzuki dealer at UN Ave.

  3. the LTO needs to be scrapped and a new agency started from the ground up with provincial authority governing their provinces, adhering to sensible national guidelines.

  4. LTO can't even fix the Emission Testing Center and they even have the balls to do an NVIS.

  5. This is what happens when you let dumb p****s helm governmemt agencies.

  6. Certificates from dealerships should also be considered as PMVIC tests


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