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By: Pete McNamara, President

Sales, Service

Inspections Violations Can Threaten Your Business

In 2009, the NH Department of Safety began a crackdown on vehicle inspections and technicians who were violating certain inspection laws. Though things have improved since that enforcement action began, the NH State Police have indicated that inspection violations are still occurring:

Technicians are opting out of the OBD II tests (only pre-1996 vehicles or motorcycles are eligible for the opt out);

There are incidents of OBD II tampering (a vehicle has failed its emissions inspection and the inspection station has used a different vehicle to gain a passing result on the NHOST unit and a sticker, all without repairing the vehicle); and

Some mechanics are sharing passcodes.

  • How can I see if techs are tampering with the OBD II test (a.k.a. clean scanning, ghosting, or cloning)?

    To check for clean scanning, run history reports from the NHOST units or have duplicate reports printed for each vehicle. Look for the time stamps: if a car fails the OBD II test and then passes the test a few minutes later, you likely have a problem.

    How can I see if techs are skipping the OBD II test?

    There are three ways to determining if your techs are opting out of the OBD II tests:

  • Go to the “Administrators Menu” on the Gordon-Darby machine, click on the “History Inquiry.” There you can examine all inspections done on the unit by date (or by VIN) for the past 60 days. Do this every 30 or 60 days and look for test counts that match expected volumes for the inspections the stations has performed.
  • Go to the “Administrators Menu” on the Gordon-Darby machine, click on the “Sticker Inquiry” then “Display Sticker Registry.” Look at a series of stickers. (The sticker books come with 25 stickers.) Punch in a sticker number and it will give you the history of the full book. If you see gaps indicated by stars in the series of stickers, then you have a problem.
  • Skip the Gordon-Darby machine and instead run reports on your accounting software: compare how much you spent on stickers to how much you’ve spent on the Gordon-Darby OBD II tests. If you bought 1,000 stickers but only bought 200 OBD II tests, you have a problem.

    How do I get Manager Access?

    To obtain the Manager Access Permission Form online, visit: http://bit.ly/2h4MQmT.

    What if I don’t know how to run a history report?

    There is a video on the NHOST unit under ‘Information and Training > Admin Menu Functions > History Inquiry Video’ that explains how to use the History Inquiry function on the NHOST unit. A helpline is available to answer any questions on NHOST unit operations at 800-383-4124.

    What else can I do to ensure problems don’t occur?

  • Make aware and train all of your technicians on the proper process and seriousness of these issues and violations. Meet with your techs eye-to-eye.
  • Offer a training session on the issues that includes having your technicians sign a disclaimer that states they are acknowledging the illegality of, and that they will not engage in, OBD II tampering or skip the OBD II tests.
  • Let your techs know that all tampering cases and THE skipping of OBD II tests are easily tracked by the police.
  • Reinforce with your techs the importance of keeping their passcodes private and to change them if they ever think it is known by anyone besides themselves.
  • Record in writing all of these steps you take in case you are called into a hearing.

    What does OBD II tampering skipping OBD II tests, or sharing of passcodes mean to you and your technicians?

    The tech loses his inspection license. The shop loses its inspection license. Fines and penalties are levied. Possible state and federal criminal charges loom. (One dealer was fighting criminal charges at the time this article was written.) A dealership buys back every vehicle it sold where tampering occurred. Also, even before a hearing is scheduled, DOS officers sometimes alert customers who purchased tampered vehicles about tampering and inform them of their rights under RSA 266:59-b.

    What can happen if I sold a vehicle but didn’t inform the customer that an OBD II failure occurred and the car wasn’t repaired?

    Under RSA 266:59-b, the purchaser is entitled to a refund of the purchase price and reasonable attorney’s fees. Imagine buying back 90-plus vehicles — a situation faced by at least one NH dealer.

    This article was originally published in the Summer 2012 issue of Dateline: NH.