Frequently Asked Questions

What is the New Hampshire OBDII and Safety Testing (NHOST) Program?

NHOST is a statewide testing program that is an addition to the Safety Inspection program already in place. It tests the emission control systems of vehicles to ensure they are performing correctly. This helps New Hampshire comply with the Federal Clean Air Act, decreases the emissions from motor vehicles, and reduces air pollution.

The NHOST Program tests emissions by checking the operation of a vehicle's on-board diagnostic system (OBD) using authorized testing equipment at DMV-licensed inspection stations. The equipment includes a new computerized system which steps the mechanics through the testing procedure and transmits the result to a centralized database. Safety inspection information is also collected at the same time. This automation makes the process of gathering and monitoring inspection information quicker, easier and more efficient for the state.

When did the NHOST Program Begin?

The NHOST program went into effect in May 2005. In the beginning, the program was in Advisory mode, meaning that OBD testing was required and motorists were advised to correct any problems found, but OBD rejection would not result in the denial of an inspection sticker. In 2007, the program transitioned to Pass/Fail for applicable vehicles. Vehicles that are Pass/Fail for OBD are required to be repaired before a full windshield sticker will be issued. The Safety Inspection remains the same for all vehicles: a vehicle must be safe to drive before a sticker can be issued.

What is "OBD"?

"OBD" is an acronym that stands for "on-board diagnostics." The OBD is a computer system in a vehicle that monitors the engine and the other systems of the vehicle. All light-duty vehicles that were manufactured since 1996 have included the OBD system. The OBD system diagnoses the vehicle and then warns the driver or automotive technician about a possible problem by illuminating the MIL (malfunction indicator light) or "Check Engine" light. Some of the problems the OBD system detects can increase the exhaust emissions to levels that are higher than the levels allowed by Federal standards.

Which vehicles must get the new OBD test?

The new OBD test is required for any vehicle that:

  • Is a model year 20 years old and newer, and
  • -Displays a weight that is less than 8,501 lbs. on the vehicle registration.

The new test does not affect the safety inspection portion of the inspection for any vehicle.

Can a station continue to conduct emissions inspections if the station does not participate in the NHOST Program?

No. To remain or become a DMV-licensed inspection station, a station must participate in the program and sign a station agreement which provides equipment and service.

What are the benefits that a station or a certified mechanic will receive from the NHOST Program?

The benefits of the NHOST Program include:

  • Your records will be more accurate and you will have more control over who conducts the inspections at your station
  • You can help reduce exhaust emissions and air pollution
  • There will be a standard emissions inspection with standard results
  • OBD training will be done right on the NHOST unit, in your station
  • The NHOST equipment will keep electronic records of inspection activity for your station
  • The station manager can print reports about inspection activity at the station
  • Your customers will receive inspection reports that explain the reasons their vehicles were rejected
  • You will be able to print detailed information about why a vehicle was rejected

What does the NHOST equipment include?

The NHOST equipment that DMV-licensed inspection stations use to conduct the new OBDII test includes:

  • A computer system that includes a modem, a barcode scanner, and a printer
  • An OBDII tool that connects the equipment to the OBDII system on the vehicle.

Where do stations get the NHOST equipment and what is the cost of the equipment?

Gordon-Darby NHOST Services will supply the station equipment needed to complete the OBD test and record the results and there is no capital investment needed by the station. The station will pay $3.28 per inspection to cover the cost of the equipment, service on the equipment and all other program services. There is no charge for retests if the prior rejection was for OBD only. There will be a minimum charge of $39.36 per unit per month.

New stations that would like a unit can request enrollment documents by calling 1-800-383-4124 or visiting the enrollment page.

The station must provide an available telephone line (or access to high-speed internet) to transfer data from the NHOST equipment to the central computers. "Available" means just that - the line must be available for program use whenever inspections are being performed and available at night for software downloads. The phone line is not necessary if the station has high-speed internet access that can be configured for use with the unit.

How do the stations pay the per-inspection fees?

Gordon-Darby NHOST Services invoices each station once per month. Invoices are sent electronically, either to the station unit or to an email address designated by the station. Payment is by direct debit from the station's checking account. This is called an ACH transfer. It is simple, quick and efficient. Gordon-Darby NHOST Services will notify the station prior to initiating the debit.

Are there other costs that a station must pay to participate in the NHOST?

A station must purchase the printer cartridges, the paper, wear items such as cables and other supplies for the NHOST equipment. The inspection station must pay for any repairs to the NHOST equipment that are the result of vandalism, incorrect use, or failure to maintain the equipment correctly.

How do mechanics conduct the emissions inspection?

To conduct the additional test of the OBDII, the mechanic uses the OBDII cable to connect the NHOST equipment to the OBDII diagnostic link connector (DLC) on the vehicle.
A vehicle will be rejected from the OBDII test if:

  • The DLC on the vehicle is obstructed, missing or broken.
  • The OBDII malfunction indicator light (MIL) on the vehicle does not illuminate when the ignition is set to the ON position and the engine is not in operation, (KOEO).
  • The MIL remains illuminated when the engine is in operation, (KOER).
  • The OBDII readiness monitors on the vehicle report that the OBDII system is "Not-Ready" for the test.
  • If the system reports "Non-Communication" when the DLC is connected to the vehicle and the engine is running.
  • The MIL is "Commanded ON" indicating an emission related malfunction.

Will the vehicle pass the inspection if the vehicle battery is disconnected to clear the OBDII malfunction codes?

No. If you disconnect the battery, the OBDII readiness monitors on the vehicle will report that the OBDII system is not ready for the test. This result causes the vehicle to fail the inspection.

Will the vehicle pass the inspection if the light bulb in the MIL is removed?

No, the vehicle will fail the inspection. Before the mechanic conducts the OBDII test, the mechanic must make sure that the MIL operates correctly.

How much time will the OBDII test require?

The OBDII test itself will require less than five minutes. The mechanic will conduct the safety inspection, and then the OBDII test to complete the inspection.

Can the station use the NHOST equipment to diagnose a vehicle for other work at the station?

No. A station can use the NHOST equipment only for performing OBD inspections, recording Safety inspection results and communications related to inspections. A station cannot install software on the NHOST computer and cannot use the equipment for work that is not related to inspections.

My station has an OBDII scan tool. Can I use the same scan tool to do the OBDII test?

No. You must conduct the OBDII test with the equipment that is provided. You can use your current OBDII scan tool for other diagnosis and repair work.

Will a certified mechanic need a new certification card to conduct the NHOST inspections?

No. A mechanic must complete the OBDII training and pass the NHOST certification test to perform the inspections that include the OBDII test. If you pass the test, your certification is valid to conduct all NHOST inspections. There will not be any changes to Safety Inspection training.

How do I get training for the NHOST and the OBDII test?

The NHOST equipment includes onboard multimedia training or computer based training (CBT). Mechanics can familiarize themselves with the OBD information at their own pace. Training material can also be accessed by clicking on Inspector Training.

Are any vehicles exempt from testing?

As mandated by the State of New Hampshire, Department of Safety - Division of Motor Vehicles, most vehicles and motorcycles registered in New Hampshire require safety inspections. Those rules will not change. The NHOST program includes both automating the collection of safety inspection data and implementing OBD testing. All cars, vans and light trucks (under 8500 GVWR) whose model year is 20 years old and newer will require an OBD test. During the process of an automated inspection, certain vehicles may be exempt from the OBD portion of the inspection. The NHOST unit software will make that determination.

How much will stations charge a motorist for an inspection?

The fee charged the motorist will still be decided by the station performing the inspection.

Does this equipment hook into the OBD connector only, or is there a wand that goes into the tailpipe?

The only item connected to the vehicle is the OBD data cable. Tailpipe testing is NOT being implemented in New Hampshire.

How long is the OBD data cable?

Approximately 25ft.

How long is the bar code reader cable?

Approximately 7ft when fully extended.

Are there wheels on the NHOST unit?

Yes, the unit may be relocated in the shop as needed. Please keep the data and power line requirements in mind, in order to operate the NHOST unit.

My shop is not always the cleanest place. Can the NHOST unit be located in an office where it will not get as dirty?

The NHOST unit must be accessible to the mechanic performing both the safety & OBD inspections, and located in the proximity of where the vehicle is being inspected. So, the shop area is where the unit likely needs to be located.

I have a high speed network. Will the NHOST unit work with my server?

Yes, The NHOST unit will work with a high-speed network. The computer has an RJ45 Ethernet connector in the back of the computer. Additional drivers can not be added to the NHOST unit so your network will need to have a router, bridge, game adapter or some other device that can be configured on another computer and does not need to have software installed in order to operate. This device is what will interface with your cable or DSL modem and then connect to the NHOST Unit. Many multi-computer shops already have a router installed. Gordon-Darby NHOST Services is not responsible for the set-up or support of your high-speed network. However, information and guidelines for high-speed networks is available in the Enrollment section.

I have a wireless high-speed network. Will the NHOST unit work with my wireless high-speed network?

Yes, as long as the network looks like a wired network to the NHOST unit and does not require driver installation. This can be accomplished using a wireless Ethernet bridge or gaming adapter. Usually, the bridge must be configured from another PC while the bridge is connected to your wired network, then moved to the NHOST unit. The NHOST unit works in our shop with a Linksys WET54G wireless bridge. Gordon-Darby NHOST Services is not responsible for the set-up or support of your wired or wireless high-speed networks. However, information and guidelines for high-speed networks is available in the Enrollment Package located on the Enrollment section..

It does not seem very feasible to keep my NHOST unit "free from dust and debris." What should I do?

We have engineered the NHOST unit to withstand the typical shop environment because that is where the unit needs to be. We recommend keeping your NHOST unit in an area that is as free from foreign debris as possible. We also have a cart cover for sale that is designed specifically for the NHOST unit. You can order the cover directly from the unit by going the Order Spares section of the Administrative Menu.