New WOF rules announced

New cars will not need a warrant of fitness for three years, after an initial inspection, and cars registered after January 1, 2000 will have annual inspections instead of six-monthly ones under new rules covering WOFs announced today.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the new system would save motorists time and money and would also focus on road safety.

The key changes are:

- 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 1 January 2000

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

- Information and education to increase people's awareness of regular vehicle maintenance

- Extra police enforcement activities.

"The new inspection frequency regime recognises concerns about older vehicles by making sure vehicles registered before 1 January 2000 remain on six-monthly inspections," Bridges said

It also recognised that the quality of vehicles and their safety features and performance are improving over time, he said.  

Transport Ministry research showed the package of changes would benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year, and by at least $1.8 billion over 30 years.  

This includes savings in inspection and compliance costs, justice and enforcement costs, and time spent by motorists getting their WOF.

Changes to the WOF system will be made through the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance 2002 and are expected to be in place by July 2014 or earlier.

"Decisions have come after a great deal of work, including public consultation that canvassed a range of possible options.  While many submitters wanted reform, others expressed concern about change," he said.

"We took these concerns into account in designing a WOF package that backs up the changed inspection frequency over time with other measures, such as information and education campaigns and more funding for police enforcement."

Work on the information and education campaigns and police enforcement activities, including funding details, would be undertaken in the coming months.

"These changes bring us more into line with other countries.  ew Zealand currently has one of the highest inspection frequencies in the world."

AA spokesman Mark Stockdale welcomed the changes, saying they would bring savings of $45m to $70m a year for motorists without compromising safety. He said they effectively phased out the six monthly warranty over time as more and more cars on the road were registered after 2000.

Seventy per cent of AA members supported a reduction to once a year. "A million motorists can't be wrong."

Currently new cars up to six years old are required to have a warrant every year, and must have six monthly WOFs after that.

Stockdale said there was not a lot of evidence supporting six monthly assessments.

MTA communications and marketing manager Ian Stronach said the decision was disappointing but entirely predictable.

The Government had not listened to data or the arguments, which included a campaign by motor trades fronted by supercar driver Greg Murphy.

They believed they could mitigate the risk, but police resources were already stretched so they were unlikely to have the time to "jack up your car and check the brake-linings" on the side of the road.

Stronach said an education campaign would not change a lifetime of indifference by some Kiwi drivers who did not have the time, wherewithal, facilities or inclination to do the checks and maintenance on their vehicles.

In a random survey of 500 cars the MTA had found only 39 per cent of vehicles were serviced on time.

He questioned whether most would spend the $50 a year they were saving on WOF checks on voluntary safety checks.

"Most won't be interested... they are oblivious to the risks and campaigns won't change that," he said, pointing to the number who still used cellphones while driving.

The decision would cost an estimated 2000 jobs in the industry among those checking and repairing vehicles. That did not include possible job losses at vehicle testing stations, Stronach said.

Fairfax Media