I am a Free Stater moving into New Hampshire in a week for a position at an engineering establishment in the Connecticut valley. Previously I was born and raised in Washington State--I have lived on the east coast for the past three years for my master's degree and subsequent temporary research work. During this time I maintained the registration of my cars in Washington as it is very cheap and easy, and of course there are no state inspections.
The inspections bother me a lot. I grew up on a farm and take care of my cars -- and from experience as a kid forward, from my dad's travails and some of my own before I taught myself more about auto maintenance -- repair places are about half crooks and half decent. Now, I've replaced sheared off bolts from inside the frame to re-attach bumper brackets, replaced brake cylinders, alternators, etc, and with my friend and mechanic Vladimir back home pulled and replaced an engine before. Now I am going to, nominally in a state where I should be more free, end up at the beck and call of a monopoly established by the state government.
Already I am committing to the complete reconstruction of my 1981 Volvo at a specialist facility in Maine before registering it -- something I would have liked to wait until I had some savings from this move. This is because I want a car without sophisticated computers I can always fix myself with my knowledge as a mechanical engineer, no matter what. My other car however is a 2001 Toyota Echo which must be inspected immediately as a daily driver, for which I do all the normal maintenance, brake pad replacements, etc, and less than a year ago had substantial front wheel components (tie rods, some other things) replaced as she is going on three hundred thousand miles -- I am worried all my investment in these cars will be for naught, and I will be forced to spend thousands of dollars as a slave of this monopoly, which is so ironic when before I moved to the east coast I never even knew these inspections existed.
So I want to know what is the best approach to dealing with these monopolists and how to guarantee that the level of made-up repairs and other extortion is kept to a minimum. Is there some kind of way to find reliable repair shops? When I do need help with something I am quite generous. But I am an educated professional and I like to live as I please, and having to play this game as the price of participating in the Free State Project and working a good career is very insulting, so I would like some way to keep my money and minimize the financial pain and frankly extortion of these inspections.