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Move to annual WoFs will lead to more road deaths - motoring writer

A move away from six-monthly warrant of fitness checks on vehicles will save motorists, business and police a combined $159 million a year, Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today.

The key changes to the WoF system from July next year 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.

Ministry of Transport research shows that the package of changes will 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 will result in more road deaths - motoring editor
The changes will result in more road deaths, says Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website

“Despite what people have been conned into believing, the current six-monthly WoF check is a major lifesaver," Mr Matthew-Wilson says.

To dispense with this system will inevitably result in more deaths and injuries."

Mr Matthew-Wilson dismisses government claims that few accidents are caused by vehicle defects and that the six-monthly WOF is therefore an unnecessary expense:

“When the police investigate accidents, then tend to blame driver behavior. Therefore, they often miss vital factors that might have prevented the accident occurring.”

“Take a typical situation where a child runs out in front of your car. Whether or not that child gets killed may well depend on the state of your vehicle’s brakes and shock absorbers.”

Tests by the German vehicle inspection agency TUV found that, at 50 km/h, a vehicle with one worn shock absorber stops two metres slower than a car with all four shock absorbers working properly.

Brakes and shock absorbers are currently checked every six months on most vehicles. That time will double when the WoFs are moved to 12 months.

Australian vehicle accident expert Chris Coxon, who co-founded Australia’s ANCAP crash test program, says:

“The New Zealand government scientists appear to have deliberately excluded research that didn’t support the government position.”

Mr Matthew-Wilson  adds that the government’s WoF changes have been very deceptively packaged.

“The government has done a brilliant job of presenting the changes to the vehicle licensing system as a measure to save ordinary motorists time and money. Actually, the average motorist will save very little and may lose a lot.”

AA supports changes
The Automobile Association says the changes need to be seen in perspective.

In an editorial in support of the changes, AA principal advisor Mark Stockdale writes, "With our twice-yearly WoF, motorists are being burdened with higher costs than our counterparts in other countries, with no obvious reduction in vehicle fault- related crashes. In fatal crashes involving vehicle faults, 40% didn't even have a current WoF."

Most vehicles in New Zealand are tested every 6000km. In Britain they're tested every 19,000km, and in Germany vehicles travel about 32,000km between inspections, Mr Stockdale says.

Police say extra WoF enforcement action would mean money taken from other areas.

Comments and questions

What utter nonsense. The only thing that needs frequent inspection is the tread depth on tyres. They are only as good as at the time of inspection. The modern vehicle is a far cry from the vehicles in existence in the 1930's when the current system commenced. Every five years would be quite sufficient. WOF fees could then carry a slight increase, a levy which could go to road transport, to fund spot checking of tyres, which are the owners' responsibility, and the only thing consistently found when a vehicle fault has contributed to an accident. I am disspointed that the changes don't go far enough, and the illogical step of leaving vehicles over 13 at six monthly. What happens to a vehicle when it reaches 13? Answer - nothing. I spent several years as a vehicle inspector in the days of the Ministry of Transport (1970s) . Since then vehicles have improved out of sight in safety matters, particularly in braking, steering and suspension systems. NZ requirements are still ridiculously tough and unecccessarily expensive, by world standards. It's a good start, but keep going NZTA.

After spending most of my adult life in australia and experiancing the twelve monthly warrants/.yearly check ups..your wolf crying critics have little substance. The days of NZ old outdated wrecks are long gone.
Get a life.

"Outdated wrecks" is a worrying term. Large parts of the country have old vehicle fleets, and I'm not sure you have considered that we don't automatically write vehicles off after collisions, in N.Z.
I would have far preferred a km, rather than time, limit - if each vehicle was inspected every 20-25,000 kms in the first 12 years, that would have made much better sense, then 6-mthly inspections. Some cars travel that distance every six months; other cars, every 2 years or more. Maybe vehicles that have been in crashes should be removed from the new regime?
And as for the changes to the heavy vehicle fleet inspections...

Agree Anon, a distance figure makes much more sense than a time limit (especially after the first three years).

If a car is an old vehicle, ie over 13 years, then it will have 6-monthly checks.

whaddya reckon about a near-new car that has been in a serious accident, is no longer to manufacturers specification, or whadd'about 2x2 year-old cars that have been wriiten-off and then re-birthed by creating 1 out of the two?

What about revoking the 5-year-renewal passport rort as well?

I'd prefer a decrease in the cost of vehicle registration, thats where the real hidden costs and inefficiences reside.

Mr Matthew-Wilson is wrong.
In fact I consider more injuries and deaths in this country are caused by trees and power poles than any other more populist excuses that are thrown at us.
If as is now common overseas, cars are heading for 5 or more year warranties with all sorts of bonuses to keep the service relationship active with a dealer, then even a 3 year wof regime is greedy.
I would have much preferred a wof only compulsory once on the sale of a vehicle at each change of ownership and a far more rigorous penalty regime for operating an unsafe vehicle. Still if NZ cant get its act together over compulsory 3rd party what does it really matter as its just a bunch of muddlers fiddling half heartedly over the changing world of motoring.

Actually I will get half a day a year of my life back - which is currently wasted travelling to and from VTNZ and hanging around there.

But I agree there is no logic in the age 13 cut off other than to placate the naysayers.

Too many vested interests trying to maintain the status quo. Good to see the changes.

In theory it should work (the Aussies do it) but what has been forgotten is NZers now have a culture of not servicing their cars. The six-month WOF currently pulls people up when their maintenance falls behind.
Extending this to one year will require people to think about their cars' maintenance in a way many are unaccustomed to.
While the law always required a vehicle to be up to standard at any time, in practise six-month WOFs were often enough that the inspection would give you an idea of the next six months forward maintenance. Now, having one-year WOFs for old cars will simply mean the average car will be in a worse state on the road.
What about the costs for more policing of the driven standard of cars? Currently, police mostly only have to check if you have a WOF or not. Now they will also have to check if you car has a WOF but isn't fit to be on the road because you havent maintained it for a year.
The problem with the government is they never think anything through. Total cost to society will be more than WOF savings.

The people who don't service their cars, don't bother with WOFs or egistration. The police rarely ticket such people because they know that such individuals don't bother to pay their fines, either.
A kilometre requirement would be better, but difficult to administer.

I want to know why the people who used to check the car thoroughly at the testing stations are so inept that any checks they do on brakes and tyres were only good for six months anyway? My grandad could check better than that.... I live in Qld were there are no wofs at all and it all seems fine here

This the same guy who predicted carnage when the intersection rules changed? yeah right

I have a car manufactured in 1998, but first registered in NZ in 2007. Maybe I'm too tired when reading this, but sounds like I'm on yearly warrants??

Another self-styled so-called 'eggspurt'... it's not the cars or their roadworthiness that should be in question, rather the loose nuts behind the wheel whether drunk, drugged or brainless or still in their nappies that cause most accidents. Put some sense back into what is practical rather than pragmatic.

Motorists who are against or concerned at having their vehicle only being inspected every 12 months could still voluntarily have their car inspected every 6 months, but I highly doubt they will.
Next I want to see the open road speed limit increase to 120kph.

A car's build quality is a lot better these days. They do not rust as quickly and technology has greatly improved. A warrant every six months just doesn't make sense any more. As usual, NZ is just five years behind the rest of the world.

I have marvelled in recent years at the imagination and innovation displayed by car dealer's service departments. They have excelled themselves in finding increasingly bizarre and expensive WOF faults. My guess is that this is management policy to make up for loss of revenue in other areas in recent years. It has been hugely wasteful, except in propping up the dealer's business. They have been their own worst enemies - not only do I and many others no longer use dealer service departments (they forced me to shop around) they have been so obvious in their abuse of customers that they have become a national economic drain that even the government must respond to. Which way will their innovation skills turn now? (After they have stopped their scare-mongering, self-interested campaigns). Imagine the list of faults, and the cost, in the future!

Didn't see anything about motorcycles. Guess we're still stuck with 1930s thinking.

I cannot agree with a kilometre check as my car, in which I do around 30,000km p.a. would have to have 4 to 5 checks in 3 yrs and 3 months. As I drive lease cars they are purchased brand new.
I think the new regulations are fine as long as people check their tyre depth, etc. This can be done when they are serviced by the mechanics who perform this every 15,000km.
Wake up, CMW.

You just have to watch out for muppets that don't check there tyres and drive around in timebombs...

Why not just microchip all cars,anything not showing up on the radar as registered warranted gets hauled off the road .Registration is far too expensive ,shouldn't cost anymore to register a car than 20-$30 a year,its just a register so only has to maintain a computer/postal database.Cheap as to set up in a modern technological world.

Since when has the government been concerned about motoring costs. Petrol is nearly 60% tax and cost plus ACC marches on free from competition.

If they spent as much govt. resources on fixing sub-standard public roads than they do on nanny-stating the private car owners I would have some respect. It just seems like a vested interests rort.
Even those with extensive knowledge are concerned.

I'm sure the current economic climate is also a poor time to introduce such changes. Unless you earn over the average wage you are unlikely to prioritise vehicle maintenance expenditure. And far too many car owners don't earn that much, by a large margin.