Licences and fees rule all parts of car business

Alan Dunn has a fist-full of licences for his Timaru businesses - but he was still breaking the law thanks to Trade Me and secondhand car parts.

And he reckons thousands of others are doing the same.

Mr Dunn has been selling secondhand car parts since online auction site Trade Me began.

Initially they were left over from his own vehicles but more recently he has listed parts from the older vehicles he buys through his business Total Automotive.

Most of the parts were for vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s, with the deals being worth less than $50.

Mr Dunn suggested he was often doing owners a favour, giving them a few hundred dollars for their old vehicle, getting rid of it for them.

He would use it for parts for vehicles he was selling or repairing. He had no desire to be a car wrecker, with the sales simply being a way to get rid of parts he didn't need.

In November, a police officer told Mr Dunn he was breaking the law by selling more than six secondhand items annually without being registered as a secondhand dealer. The argument that, as a licensed motor vehicle dealer Mr Dunn had to check the status of a vehicle, including whether it was stolen, before purchasing it, was not enough. A check of Trade Me that day showed more than 30 people selling secondhand car parts in South Canterbury. Many had extensive numbers of trades against their name.

"We're a member of the MVDI, have a car dealer's licence, belong to trade associations, have licences for painting and repairing vehicles: how many more licences do I need?" Mr Dunn asked.

Another visit from the police made it clear Mr Dunn would be prosecuted (and face a fine up to $20,000) if he did not comply.

It cost Mr Dunn more than $700 as he needed three licences and a certificate - one for the company, one for the person who usually dealt with the Trade Me deals, and another for himself as a company director.

He might be "legal" now, but he can't help but wonder about all the illegal, unlicensed dealers he suspects are still trading.

The Timaru Herald