Wellington City Council issued more than $4 million worth of tickets for expired warrants of fitness and registrations in the past financial year, but managed to recoup only 44 per cent of the fines.
Parking wardens issued 21,219 tickets, worth $4,243,800, for expired registration and warrants.
Each ticket is an automatic $200 fine.
The number of tickets issued equates to more than 58 tickets a day.
Council spokesman Richard MacLean said there had been a slight decline in the number of tickets issued over the past three years.
Motorists were given a month's grace period before being issued a ticket, he said.
"If the vehicle was seen on a public road during this time they would be given a caution notice as a reminder to get the vehicle legal.
"This looks like a ticket, but has no monetary penalty," he said.
"Legislation provides a seven-day grace period for licence labels to be renewed.
"There is no such grace period for warrant of fitness offences."
Only 44 per cent of the fines were paid, meaning the council is still owed $2,470,608.
Mr MacLean said the council did not receive 100 per cent payment for any fines.
"There are always people who contest tickets, especially expensive fines like those for no warrant of fitness or registration," he said.
"So they either refuse to pay or challenge the tickets in court."
AA spokesman Mark Stockdale said it was not uncommon for people not to renew their warrant or registration on time.
"We don't know if there are fewer people complying than before, but it's definitely not uncommon for people to wait a bit before renewing their warrant or registration," he said.
"About 64 per cent of people are late getting their warrant done and some leave it as late as 55 days."
He said the problem with fining people was that they did not renew their warrant or registration because of the cost.
"Many people are really struggling and are now viewing warrants and registrations as unaffordable - registrations especially," he said.
"You can now pay about $300 to register a petrol car for a year and about $450 for a diesel car."
Mr Stockdale said giving demerit points or waiving the fine if vehicle owners complied within a time period might be better options.
"The problem with a fine is that the $200 is better spent getting the car repaired and made safe again," he said.
"Imposing demerit points might be a better option because they are more of a deterrent.
"It also leaves people with the money to make the car legal.
"The fine or demerit points should then be waived if the car is made legal within an agreed time.
"The purpose here is for the public to be driving around in safe vehicles."
Half the revenue for tickets for expired warrants and registrations is paid to the New Zealand Police.
The council used the money it got from the tickets to maintain Wellington's roads, Mr MacLean said.
BY THE NUMBERS
Expired registration tickets: 13,864
Total amount ticketed: $2,772,800
Amount paid: $1,086,204
Most tickets: 1374, August 2011
Least tickets: 981, Feb 2012.
Expired warrant of fitness tickets: 7355
Total amount ticketed: $1,471,000
Amount paid: $686,988
Most tickets: 848, July 2011
Least tickets: 490, October 2011 and December 2011
- The Wellingtonian