Vehicle safety 'will be ignored'

18:54, Jan 28 2013
Neil Webb
Education needed: Blenheim Testing Station mechanic and managing director Neil Webb is worried people will neglect vehicle maintenance with the new warrant of fitness system.

Warrant of fitness changes announced by the Government on Sunday will take away the incentive for drivers' to keep their vehicle in prime condition, a Blenheim mechanic says.

Blenheim Testing Station managing director Neil Webb said while the new warrant of fitness system would be bad for his business, he could see part of the Ministry of Transport's reasoning.

The new system would mean no inspections on new cars for three years and annual rather than six-monthly checks for those registered after January 2000.

Cars from 2000 generally had more safety equipment, including air bags and anti-lock braking systems, which meant the car was less likely to skid out of control. But while these things were useful in a crash, they did not maintain the safety of the car, he said.

"In 10 years' time, there will be cars that are 22-years-old that are still getting a warrant, that are still on the road," he said. "And who will be driving them? Probably uni students who can't afford to have them regularly checked."

Most new cars sold from a dealership had a service schedule as part of the sale, but some did not, he said.


"We've had forestry vehicles in here that have managed to be wrecked within a year," he said. "New vehicles can still have quite severe faults."

New vehicle owners would no longer have the incentive to get a warrant of fitness, he said.

"A lot of people only get a warrant because they have to. It's a necessary evil so you don't get a fine."

A lot of educating was needed to change that mindset, especially with the new system, he said.

"We see cars that have done 50,000 to 60,000 kilometres on the same oil change. If they don't go and get a warrant, then it never gets looked at," he said.

"That's a bit of a scary thought."

Marlborough Road Safety Council president Nigel Perry said the warrant of fitness system should have been left as it was.

Even new cars had their problems, Mr Perry said.

While some crash reports claimed 0.5 per cent of road fatalities were caused by vehicle safety problems, they are just estimates. "There could be lot more [crashes caused by mechanical defects] that they don't know about."


The key changes to the warrant of fitness (WOF) system include:

An initial inspection for new cars, followed by annual inspections once vehicles are three years old.

Annual inspections for vehicles three years and older and first registered on or after January 1, 2000.

Six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before January 1, 2000.

Information and education on regular vehicle maintenance.

Extra police enforcement. 

The Marlborough Express