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Should car inspections still be annual?

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In a recent report, New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) tried to answer the question, “Why does New Hampshire require annual automobile inspections?” 

According to mechanics and state officials, the answer is “safety.”  Like an annual physical, an annual car inspection can catch small problems before they become major safety hazards. 

However, most states do not require annual inspections.  According to NHPR, there’s no evidence that cars are more or less safe in those states.

Inspections also bring in about $4 million for the state each year.  That revenue is important in a state without a sales or income tax.

In 2015 the New Hampshire Legislature considered changing the car inspection requirement to biennial.  When we asked our community about that idea, most commenters did not support the idea. 

Do you support the annual car inspection requirement in New Hampshire?  Share your opinion in the comments below.


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In my opinion, safety inspections, per se, are not a bad idea, but in the past couple of years the NH Department of Safety apparently has escalated a campaign against vehicle body rust in annual auto safety inspections. It used to be, as I understood it, that any rust holes that would allow exhaust fumes to enter the passenger compartment had to be closed, but the means of effecting this were not necessarily specified. Now I'm told by my inspection station that rust holes anywhere on the vehicle must be repaired only with welded-in metal, that can cost thousands of dollars. I question the safety benefit of this requirement, which creates a severe economic burden on a large segment of New Hampshire residents that can least afford it: low income working people, unemployed who are looking for work, students, retirees, the disabled, and others on fixed income. Are there actual statistics or reports of incidences and failures to support these extreme rust repair requirements? This is a call to NH legislators to review the costs to New Hampshire residents vs. benefits, and consider implementing reasonable requirements that ensure safety while allowing people to keep their otherwise roadworthy vehicles.

The applicable regulations (criteria for safety inspection failure) are assumed to be:
• Saf-C 3221.01 (a) (7) The floor pan in the passenger compartment or trunk area has a hole, is worn or is rusted so that exhaust gases enter...
• Saf-C 3221.02 Replacement of Body or Chassis. Any portion of the body or chassis of a vehicle which is missing or damaged shall be replaced with material(s) that meet the manufacturer's specifications.

Salient points:
• Existing statistics, while sparse, seem to indicate that occurrences of carbon monoxide poisoning due to accidental passenger compartment infiltration are very infrequent, perhaps less than one per million of population per year nationwide. (…)
• A sound exhaust system is the most reliable barrier against CO infiltration and is much less costly to maintain or repair.
• Regarding any question of structural integrity, a typical sedan with rusted-out rocker panels is arguably no less safe in a collision than a brand-new Jeep Wrangler, Smart Car, Chevy Spark, Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, etc., not to mention motorcycles. All of which will pass inspection without question.
• A new or replacement automobile can cost more that a lot of people's net worth.
• Please note that this is to address the cost and impact of failed inspections due only to rusted body panels (sheet metal) and not other rusted components such as frame, brake lines, exhaust pipes, mufflers, etc.
• The enumeration of inspection points on the NHDMV webpage,… makes no mention of rust, corrosion, or body panel integrity.
• Annual safety inspections per se are not required in most states. Why are New Hampshire's requirements so much more stringent than the majority of other states? Are we provably safer as a result?

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