WOF checks

April 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

The six month warrant of fitness check may be a thing of the past under reforms being looked at by the government.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee’s thrown up a host of ideas around vehicle licensing reform, with the aim of saving millions in unnecessary costs and times for both households, businesses and the government.

In the spotlight is our inspection system, which he says is one of the most frequent in the OECD.

Under the current system a warrant’s required every six months unless your car is less than five years old – then it’s an annual check.

My car has just moved from annual to six monthly checks and it is a pain. The six months fly past so quickly. I can’t think of anytime when a six month check picks anything up which is urgent and wouldn’t wait for the annual check.

Plus many drivers are having regular service inspections as well as WOF checks.

It seems no other country has WOF checks as often as NZ does.

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28 Responses to “WOF checks”

  1. eszett (2,431 comments) says:

    I agree. Can’t happen too soon. ^ months is just a money maker for inspections.
    Betcha the prices will go up as well, though

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  2. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I think getting rid of warrants is a very retrograde step. Even a one year check is probably not enough for many older cars – maybe they should be looking at 6 month warrants for cars over 12 years old instead of 6 – it’d answer the critics of 6 monthly checks for near new cars but would still pick up the real old dungers which need it.

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  3. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    Plus you can get a $300 fine for being “over” your 6month WoF, which is a tax on being poor or choosing the wrong option. The car passes whether its a 6 month or 12 month, its just about how much $ you wanted to pay in the Post Shop.

    Do any of us miss the TV License? Stream Fishing should be next.

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  4. Ed Snack (1,927 comments) says:

    Well, a WOF is supposed to be about safety, and there are certain things that do get neglected, tires being an obvious example. For all of those who don’t like driving an obviously unsafe car, there is a definite subset of drivers who don’t care if their car is actually a danger to drive.

    Maybe it is time though for the change from 1 year to 6 months to go out to, say, 10-12 years. Cars are a lot more reliable than they used to be.

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  5. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Stick with 12 months, and as soon as a vehicle fails a WoF set it to 6 monthly thereafter. If the police see a dodgy car they should set the WoF cycle to 6 months, AND ticket for the suspected fault with the ticket being withdrawn in a clear WoF test is completed within 7 days

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  6. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    DPF,

    I think it should be an evidence-based decision (not unlike your own argument about reducing the blood alcohol level for the current level.)

    Let them look at the percentage WOF failures on first inspection and move the 6 monthly requirement to the age of vehicles where those first I selection failures are occurring at an unacceptable level (for example, it might be to where 20% of vehicles of the same age are failing first inspections.). That would align the requirement and costs with vehicles that are more likely to present safety issues(and to the owners who choose to continue to own and run them.)

    [DPF: I agree any decision should be evidence based. My gut feeling is we start six month inspections too early, but I am open to persuasion]

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  7. lastmanstanding (1,303 comments) says:

    Those who dont look after their cars and drive them in a dangerous condition ie bald tyres dont get WOFs done or register or insure their cars.
    So its onlt the responsible motorists who get WOF etc and keep their cars up to scratch.

    A better idea would be complusory 3rd party insurance as in the UK. When you register your car you have to show you have 3rd party cover.

    The Police should be out enforcing the laws around registration and car condition. Trouble is that dont as they and we know that if they take these cars off the road the drivers will nick a car.

    If the pollies and the Police were serious they would blitz certain suburbs and certain towns and many of the cars would be taken off the road that werent safe and werent registered.

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  8. Brian Smaller (4,026 comments) says:

    Trailers are worse. Mine spends 99% of it’s time on the farm, and occasionally has to go into town to pick up something. Six monthly warrants are a pain.

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  9. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    lastmanstanding:

    Those who dont look after their cars and drive them in a dangerous condition ie bald tyres dont get WOFs done or register or insure their cars.
    So its onlt the responsible motorists who get WOF etc and keep their cars up to scratch.

    That’s not true at all – there are people (students, people with not enough spare cash) who only make their car roadworthy for the warrant. Those people put off buying new tyres because they aren’t needed NOW and they might have a rent payment due.

    The Compulsory Third Party you talk about is third party injury and not third party property. You also have CTP insurance in Australia. In New Zealand you have it, it’s called ACC and it’s a government monopoly.

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  10. Elaycee (4,410 comments) says:

    “Plus you can get a $300 fine for being “over” your 6month WoF, which is a tax on being poor or choosing the wrong option.”

    Oh, bollocks. It is a fine for not having your car checked as required by Law. Nothing to do with ‘wealthy’ or ‘poor’ status – it’s just a fine for being a dork. No different to being caught speeding. Just suck it up and move on.

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  11. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    “..I can’t think of anytime when a six month check picks anything up which is urgent and wouldn’t wait for the annual check..”

    Tyres, CV joint boots leaking / faulty, Brake effectiveness, Headlight alignment, indicators, brakelights, handbrake effectiveness

    The sooner problems with these are picked up the better -

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  12. Elaycee (4,410 comments) says:

    If the WOF requirements are relaxed, then there should be an offset:

    Maybe it should be the responsibility of the driver to maintain their vehicle in roadworthy condition and if they are involved in an accident (and their vehicle is found to be not roadworthy) then their own insurance cover should automatically be waived (no different from DUI) and they should also pay for all repairs (and medical expenses) for the other party involved.

    And if someone opts out of the responsibility of keeping their vehicle in a roadworthy condition, then they can’t bleat when their car is ordered off the road and they’re hit in the pocket. It’s just another personal decision that can have consequences.

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  13. tvb (4,516 comments) says:

    Try will be a lot tougher on the tyre thing and issue fewer warnings.

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  14. dubya (243 comments) says:

    Perhaps it should be based on mileage/time period, whichever comes first- much like routine car servicing. I’ve got a well maintained classic BMW that gets used on Sundays and probably does less than 5000km a year; for this, six monthly WOFs seem ridiculously over cautious, but I’d understand such regularity if it was a sales rep’s company car doing 50,000km a year.

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  15. adze (2,129 comments) says:

    IMP, the fine is $200 for an expired WOF. It’s $100 if your vehicle license has expired, and $150 for an unregistered (or lapsed) registration.

    I agree that 5 years is too short a threshold. I think these days 10 years is more reasonable, even though at nearly 20 years old my car would have to be inspected on a 6 monthly basis in either case :)

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  16. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    Warrants for older cars are important and in the long run faults can be corrected before they cost vast amounts of cash, ie rust spots. I think the government will make third party insurance compulsory in the future, this of course will soon negate any savings made from one once a year warrants. In the UK they are now introducing rego identification cameras at petrol stations and those cars with no insurance, rego etc cannot be filled as the pump will not operate. I expect similar systems will be introduced here in time so I doubt Gerry is all of a sudden getting kind hearted in his old age.

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  17. 2boyz (264 comments) says:

    If it’s going to be 12 month cycles they have to make the insection a lot tougher, a good example is actually removing wheels to more closely inspect brakes, particularly drum brakes on the rear of vehicles which still have them. I worked in the trade for a number of years and we had customers that had vehicles that required extensive work from WOF to WOF, this is still happening.

    How would WOF testing stations make their money if the WOF cycle was extended, they always seem to have lines out the back end particularly on Saturday mornings.

    Just through my time in the trade I’m aware of the state of and condition of the vehicles I own. It’s amazing how often I see friends with expired WOF’s and registrations, along with bald tyres etc. I guess most people just drive their vehicles without being conscience of the overall state (leave it to the garage).

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  18. marcw (255 comments) says:

    It was stated that WOF checks cost $250 million per year for NZers, and that is just the fees paid. What about the time taken for owners that have to wait in queues and while the over extensive testing is done. Perhaps another $250 million added to the cost?

    I personally endorse the WOF test itself, but really, how many accidents are caused by not having operating windscreen washers or a label on your mini-spare wheel to tell you how to use it? Can’t we simplify the test to the really important and significant safety checks – ball joints, tyre condition, lights, brakes for example. My spare wheel (which is under the boot liner) has had to have been inspected 24 times in the time I have owned the car – and it’s always the same!

    Maybe 12 monthly checks up to 12 years old, and 6 monthly thereafter or if a previous test is failed on a newer car, an extra check in 6 months to follow up. This would encourage owners to be more proactive in keeping things maintained.

    Can we have some meaningful statistics about how many real accidents are caused by defects on the cars, and which may have been avoided by a stricter testing regime?

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  19. CJPhoto (227 comments) says:

    Getting rid of it would be a mistake. Doesn’t mean is shouldn’t be tweeked. should consider:

    – is 6 years to short to move to 6 montly
    – should people get good behavour/bad behavour treatment – ie a variable age limited based on your history/condition of car etc.
    – if you get you car serviced, there should be an easier/cheaper option for the mechanic to get it approved (though people go to VTNZ as they know the mechanic isn’t trying to upsell them)

    IN the end, the rules we have now do ensure we have safe vehicles on the road (provided people actually get a warrent) as we have quite an old fleet of cars compared to some other countries.

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  20. Colville (2,300 comments) says:

    My 7 yr old Prado has done 260 000 kms and in that time needed new rubber and oil changes and one headlight bulb and one set of brake pads. The newer cars now are on 15K kms oil changes? (or is it longer now?) if you were just around town mainly would you do 15K kms in a year? so it would be close to once a year for a oil change and WOF anyways?
    10 years before 6 monthly checks kick in (grandfathered in) would be about right.

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  21. gravedodger (1,571 comments) says:

    WOF checks can turn out to be complete bollocks.
    How many “passed” vehicles are non complying within days of passing.
    My classic VW beetle c 1971 was diagnosed with repairable rust in the ‘A’ pillar. Not from repeated WOF checks but from a wiring failure to the tail lights as we tracked the faulty wiring.

    Used to own a “D” series Ford Truck that would pass a hand brake test on one or two attempts then it had to be reset in the workshop so between COFs where I parked was important.
    However if the law re driving a road worthy vehicle was the go then I would have perhaps done the “air pressure” handbrake modification years earlier, but in a regime of “displaying” a 50mm square compliance there was little incentive.

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  22. dime (10,125 comments) says:

    It baffles me that we dont have compulsory 3rd party insurance.

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  23. voice of reason (490 comments) says:

    Gravedodger:
    “….However if the law re driving a road worthy vehicle was the go….”

    I am pretty sure the current law is that you must maintain your vehicle to WOF standard between checks.
    I’d also assume insurance company fine print has conditions that would require complying with the above

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  24. Michael (911 comments) says:

    Voice of Reason – yep, that’s correct about the requirements. Your insurance company will probably pay a claim if it is a marginal issue, but if you have a completely bald tire and skid off the road in the rain then it will be declined.

    I’m of the opinion that there should be a consistent set of rules that state what the minimum standard for operating a car is, and then leaving it to drivers and insurance companies to work out how this is checked. And any car not up to the standards is automatically at fault for civil claims in any accident as it isn’t legally on the road.

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  25. Steve (4,591 comments) says:

    Elaycee@ 11.50
    ‘Maybe it should be the responsibility of the driver to maintain their vehicle in roadworthy condition ‘

    What? you want the owner of the vehicle to be responsible for the safety of of it? Rediculous, the PC wankers will never wear this, having nobody to blame except themselves.

    On the 6/12 month thing I think once a vehicle has clocked 100K then go to 6 months. Trailers are an exception, there are some heaps of shit out there, just look on TradeMe. Even near new boat trailers when the owner can’t be arsed washing it down then gets brake problems

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  26. Rick Rowling (815 comments) says:

    The part of the car/driver system that’s most likely to fail and cause an accident can go without a reinspection for 60 years. What’s up with that?

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  27. marcw (255 comments) says:

    @RR 8:59

    Exactly, and it’s not as if LTSA haven’t been asked to consider retesting at intervals. To me, a written test every 10 years should be a minimum requirement.

    Apparently it’s too hard – they’d rather spend millions on gripper TV ads that everyone switches off after the first time (let alone the 999th time).

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  28. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    I’m pretty sure in Aus there isn’t a warrant for a reasonably new car. When the car gets serviced they check it over, but the obligation is on the driver to have a roadworthy car. You get it serviced regularly, or you service it yourself. If you have an accident and poor maintenance is the issue, then you’re liable. I reckon warrants are pretty much a rort, propping up small garages. If you don’t notice your tyres are bald until you get a warrant, there’s something wrong.

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