Leave WOF system alone, survey says

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 12/10/2012
wof stand
ANDY JACKSON
Vehicle inspector Peter Lowl runs a torch and his trained eye over the underside of a car during its six-monthly WOF check.

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Taranaki motorists do not support proposed changes to the frequency of warrant of fitness checks, owners of the region's garages say.

That opinion seems to tie in with results so far of a survey organised by the Motor Trade Association, in which almost three-quarters of respondents say they want the WOF system left alone.

A discussion document recently released by the Government proposes a series of options that would see less frequent warrant of fitness (WOF) and certificate of fitness (COF) inspections for many vehicles.

The most controversial option is to require no inspections for vehicles up to three years old, and for inspections after that to be every 12 months. The requirement now is for annual inspections of vehicles up to six years old, and for the WOF checks to be every six months after that.

VTNZ New Plymouth vehicle testing station manager Chris Watson said most of his customers want the WOF to remain the same, because they see real dangers in older cars having to undergo their checks only every year.

"The average age of cars in New Zealand is 13 years, and the age is going upwards," he said. "Once cars get to that age, they start having trouble with brakes and tyres, and the likes of suspension components and steering joints start wearing out. For that reason, they need to be frequently checked."

He was supported by Darren Erb, of AA Auto Service and Repair, who said more than 50 per cent of vehicles older than 10 years were being rejected at their WOF checks.

"So if you take the six-monthly checks out to 12 months, the percentage of unsafe cars on our roads has got to increase."

Mr Erb said if the six-monthly WOF check does go out to 12 months, the current $40-$50 cost will almost certainly increase because the checks will need to be much tougher.

The Motor Trade Association says its campaign to find out what New Zealanders think about proposed changes to WOF frequency had more than 9000 people voting on an on-line questionnaire - most of the votes against any change.

Association spokesman Ian Stronach said the Government's own data showed during the next decade, depending on which option is chosen, there could be between seven and 84 additional fatalities and between 16 and 179 additional serious injuries.

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