Proposal for annual WOF inspections raises fears

Mechanics fear New Zealand roads could be flooded with unfit cars if the Government extends warrant of fitness inspections to one year.

Industry insiders also doubt the proposal will save motorists money, because yearly inspections are likely to become tougher and result in more repair work.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges yesterday laid out options to reform the vehicle licensing system in a discussion paper, aimed at making it "simpler and more efficient".

Annual inspections for vehicles up to 12 years old and six-monthly thereafter, or first inspection at three years and annual thereafter were among the options up for public debate. At present, a warrant of fitness is required every six months for vehicles older than six years.

If any of the test options were adopted, it could save drivers $60 million to $240m in inspection fees and time lost obtaining a warrant.

Dave Gibson, of Motor Doctors, said fewer inspections would mean more people driving around with bald tyres and unsafe brakes.

"When you check for warrant of fitness a tyre can be legal, but in two months it can be unsafe."

Clive Matthew-Wilson, who edits the car review website, said the reform document was nothing more than the Government making life easier for the motor industry.

He doubted whether motorists would pay less in the long run, saying things like half-worn tyres, which often pass six-month inspections, would need replacing if inspections were yearly.

New Zealand has the highest number of inspections in the OECD. Vehicles here are typically inspected every 6000 kilometres, compared to every 19,000km in Britain and 32,000km in Germany.

Bridges said that while there was evidence that fewer inspections "slightly increased risk", it could be reduced with education and more stringent tests.

Submissions must be made by October 31, and a decision is expected in December.

The Press