Fewer WoF checks

January 27th, 2013 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

has announced:

Changes to New Zealand’s warrant of fitness system, which will see annual inspections for cars registered after 2000, will save motorists time and money and will also focus on , says Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

The key changes to the warrant of fitness system () include:

  • 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

Excellent. I find the six month WOF checks on relatively new cars a silly hassle and a waste of time and money.

The Motor Trade Assn will of course be unhappy, because they own a chain of testing stations. But mechanical defects are implicated in only 2.5% of vehicle crashes and are the sole cause in only 0.4% – experts have said the impact on safety will be minimal.

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.

Mr Bridges says these savings will have a flow-on benefit for the wider economy.

The have also said there will be 2,000 jobs lost due to this decision. Now of course that is a nonsense figure, but even if it was true their argument is flawed. The purpose of WOF checks is not to create jobs for garages, If that was the purpose, we’d have monthly WOF checks.

An economy does better when people get to voluntarily choose what they spend their money on. The annual saving of $160 million will benefit other areas of the economy.

The debate should be about balancing risk and cost.  I think this new regime is a far better balance than the old one.

The (which unlike the MTA has no commercial interests involved in the decision) has pointed out:

New Zealand has the most frequent vehicle safety inspection in the world. No other country requires cars aged 6 years or older (most of our fleet) to be tested twice a year.

Some countries have an annual inspection, and many only every two years. Others, like much of Australia and the United States, have no regular inspection at all.

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.

Yet despite these differences in inspection frequency the number of crashes caused by vehicle faults in New Zealand is about the same as other countries at about 2.5 per cent – or less than half a per cent where it is the sole cause.

This suggests that inspection frequency is not a silver bullet.

The question is, can we have a less-frequent test without increasing crash rates, and the international evidence suggests we can.

This is a good example of the Government acting in the public interest, and refusing to bow to a scare campaign by vested interests. We need more decisions like this.

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45 Responses to “Fewer WoF checks”

  1. flipper (4,332 comments) says:

    Excellent decision. Agree with you DPF – more of the same would be useful.

    A big hurry up in local government RMA application processing and the “development fee”scam would be welcome.

    J.Key has hinted, nudged, sort of promised. But the best way would be to make an example of those silly red-Len clowns in Aukland. That silly woman Huse is already on the record as being opposed to change. Getting rid of tenured town planners in local government would be great start.

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  2. Pete George (23,830 comments) says:

    This looks like a sensible balance, including the retention of six montly tests if first registered before 2000.

    But something I haven’t seen mentioned is how this affects second hand imports that are pre-2000 but first registered on New Zedaland after 2000.

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  3. Redbaiter (10,443 comments) says:

    Well, its something I suppose, but hell they could have and should have gone a whole lot further.

    The left don’t do things in itty bitty steps.

    What’s National’s problem?

    If you must have inspections, then they should be based on kilometres driven or a certain time limit, whatever comes first.

    The savings of $160 million could have been at least doubled.

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  4. Michael (913 comments) says:

    @Pete – year of first registration refers to the date it was first registered anywhere. There has been no NZ assembled cars since 1997-ish (when the motor assembly industry claimed 200,000 jobs would be lost because tariffs were removed on fully built up imports.) So my 2004 Toyota built in Japan is covered by the new rules.

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  5. Bovver (173 comments) says:

    The MTA and Clive Matthew-Wilson are full of shit. Remember when Clive there would be carnage on the roads when they changed the give way rule. This is good move and could actually incentivise people to upgrade their cars.

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  6. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    Redbaiter points out:

    If you must have inspections, then they should be based on kilometres driven or a certain time limit, whatever comes first.

    Because that would be common sense, of which politicians are incapable. Why should my elderly father, who drives his older car the 3km or so to the shops and back about once a week and thus does about 200 km every six months, be made to pay as much as someone who’s travelling 6,000km? The chances of something going wrong with my father’s car are about 3% of that of the other vehicle.

    A good decision, but as usual not a really radical common-sense approach but one that’s trying to appease, to some extent, everyone.

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  7. Pete George (23,830 comments) says:

    I understand the km approach but that’s a lot more complicated, especially as it probably couldn’t be done without a time alternative. Most service checks and oils changes are recommended at the soonest of time elapsed or KM done. Cars sitting around hardly being used can deteriorate over time.

    If it’s done by timeframe it’s easier to plan for, and easier for garages to send out reminders and ring up and say your warrant is due that day (as happened to me recently).

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  8. kiwigunner (232 comments) says:

    As always with this govt the most affected will be those that can least afford it (or to be more precise in this case those that can afford it will not have too). Older cars are mostly held by the least well off whilst the newer cars by those with money. It’s acknowledged that there is no increase in cost for anyone but no coincidence I guess that their is reduction in cost for the rich.

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  9. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,760 comments) says:

    Now to announce the 10 year New Zealand passport, just like everywhere else.

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  10. Fox (206 comments) says:

    A good decision, but as usual not a really radical common-sense approach but one that’s trying to appease, to some extent, everyone.

    Agreed Rex.

    What also reinforces your notion is this part: “An initial inspection for new cars, followed by annual inspections once vehicles are three years old”.

    So what the Government is suggesting is that within that three year period, there’s little to no chance of the brakes, tyres or such wearing out to below WoF standards.

    Bizarre logic if you ask me.

    [DPF: You realise these are minimum not maximum checks. I’d say those who can afford to buy brand new cars generally also take them back to the manufacturer for regular checks outside the WOF regime. Do you also realise some countries have NO mandated checks at all? They just trust people to be sensible and check as they feel the need]

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  11. Manolo (14,173 comments) says:

    A very good move, indeed.

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  12. Pete George (23,830 comments) says:

    kiwigunner – so do you suggest that no changes should be made to anything unless some people consider it adequately favours poor people?

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  13. kiwigunner (232 comments) says:

    Possibly. I certainly believe that a more fair a society the better it is. In terms of this change a fair society would consider who benefits from the change the most and it s is clear it is the better off. Maybe what I really believe is that changes shouldn’t almost always favour the rich as this does.

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  14. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    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.

    Heh. That’s because the Germans [mostly] drive cars that they built. If NZers drove the cars that we built, I’d support testing after each trip to the supermarket :)

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  15. tvb (4,556 comments) says:

    A nicely nuanced decision which shows off Simon’s political skills. I look forward to more from him as he advances his career.

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  16. tvb (4,556 comments) says:

    On second hand imports I think there is a prohibition of imports prior to 2000 model cars at least. I would like something to be done about unregistered unwarranted no insurance clunkers. Maybe if they are prior to 2000 and have those 3 strikes they go to the crusher. But facts on this issue would need to be obtained before such a drastic policy.

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  17. NoCash (262 comments) says:

    @fox

    Most if not all brand new cars are covered by at least 3 yrs warranty that requires regular services (most commonly yearly) at the dealer for it not to be void. So I would say that again most if not all brand new car owners will have their new cars serviced yearly, and any issues would be picked up at services.

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  18. pq (728 comments) says:

    cool dude, slipped through the mechanical check
    went home to girlfriend
    lets go out to lunch, you should have seen her dress,
    and it was only lunch time

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  19. the conservative (67 comments) says:

    Finally National get something right.

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  20. big bruv (14,224 comments) says:

    “This is a good example of the Government acting in the public interest, and refusing to bow to a scare campaign by vested interests. We need more decisions like this.”

    What utter bloody rubbish. This is exactly the type of feel good but meaningless crap this government keeps pushing on us.

    Where were the tax cuts that Neville Key promised us?
    Where is the real attack on the scum who spend their life on the dole?
    Where is the real attack on the DPB slappers?
    Where is the repeal of the WFF bribe?
    Where is the repeal of the interest free student loan bribe?

    Nope…just more useless and meaningless crap that Neville can serve up for our tame media to swallow.

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  21. chris (647 comments) says:

    Ministry of Transport research shows that the package of changes will benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year

    This of course assumes that the cost of WoF inspections doesn’t almost double the day the legislation takes affect. Probably won’t double, but I can guarantee it’ll go up a lot.

    If you must have inspections, then they should be based on kilometres driven or a certain time limit, whatever comes first.

    Agreed, and I’ve said this before. We are very light users of our two vehicles. We work at home and walk the kids to school. We don’t drive around a lot. We do sweet FA mileage. We were lucky enough to be able to buy a new car a couple of years back and at its one year service the guy at the car place remarked that it had very low mileage.

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  22. chris (647 comments) says:

    Possibly. I certainly believe that a more fair a society the better it is. In terms of this change a fair society would consider who benefits from the change the most and it s is clear it is the better off. Maybe what I really believe is that changes shouldn’t almost always favour the rich as this does.

    Exactly how does this favour the “rich”?

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  23. chris (647 comments) says:

    I understand the km approach but that’s a lot more complicated,

    Seems to work OK for road user charges.

    especially as it probably couldn’t be done without a time alternative.

    Red did suggest a time alternative too. Kms or time, whichever comes sooner. I think that’s a good approach.

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  24. mikenmild (12,402 comments) says:

    chris
    It certainly favours those with newer cars, so in that sense it could be said to favour those whose means allows them to own such cars. Doesn’t stop it being a good move, and it’s not as though costs are being transferred from rich to poor.

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  25. chris (647 comments) says:

    mikenmild, yes I know that’s the argument :) Of course if that’s the case, the “rich” are favoured now anyway, with what is it? first 6 years you only have to get it checked once per year? On the other hand, you can argue the “rich” owners of the testing stations are creaming it at the moment with overly frequent and unnecessary testing ;)

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  26. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    @mm and kiwgunner –

    Being well off is always advantageous – that’s one of the reasons one tries to earn a decent crust. I suppose we could legislate against that but it never worked in the good old communist countries. More expensive and newer cars are safer, people with money and sense maintain their vehicles better in general and have thus safer cars etc

    But turning it in to somehow disadvantaging the poor (and those poor motor vehicle people) is completely against the point of the changes.

    It’s all about the cost/risk equation. What’s the best way to have safe vehicles on the road at an appropriate cost?

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  27. Steve (North Shore) (4,537 comments) says:

    How will this apply to new boat trailers? Some last 35 years, some last 3 years when the owner can’t be arsed with washing and maintainence. You will never beat salt water.
    Now when a new boat trailer gets a WOF the next WOF will be in two years, then another two years, then another two years, then every one year. The responsiblity has to be with the owner – who may not know he is negligent and his trailer is fucked.

    The WOF test must be done every one year, or in the case of motorised vehicles every 50000KM.
    My opinion

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  28. Rex Widerstrom (5,013 comments) says:

    chris points out:

    This of course assumes that the cost of WoF inspections doesn’t almost double the day the legislation takes affect. Probably won’t double, but I can guarantee it’ll go up a lot.

    Of course they will, because the system sets up MTA members as both arbiter and beneficiary. What mechanic, seeing an oldr car come in for a WoF, doesn’t see it as a chance to find a myriad of niggling issues and hold the owner to ransom to have them “fixed” in return for an exorbitant fee?

    I remember one disappearing so far into my engine compartment he feet were off the ground, only to energe and tell me he could “smell exhaust coming from the manifold” thus breaching emission guidelines and I’d need to have half the engine pulled out and the manifold replaced.

    Once upon a time WoFs only tested for things that actually had a safety implication – brakes, lights, horn, seat belts – and not the multitude of mostly trivial nonsense that needs to be ticked off nowadays. And it was done by a government agency which thus had no financial imperative to find fault.

    Then politicians, never content to leave well enough alone, started to meddle…

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  29. chris (647 comments) says:

    As always with this govt the most affected will be those that can least afford it (or to be more precise in this case those that can afford it will not have too). Older cars are mostly held by the least well off whilst the newer cars by those with money. It’s acknowledged that there is no increase in cost for anyone but no coincidence I guess that their is reduction in cost for the rich.

    Funny argument. I’m “rich” with a combined annual income of around $140k (but I sure don’t feel rich). Until 2 years ago we had 2x 1997 vehicles. So guess what, I’d still need to get them checked every 6 months, even though I’m “rich”.

    We now have 1x 1997 and 1x 2010 (both of which we will own for many years more – can’t afford a new car more than once in a lifetime). So one of them would need to get checked every 6 months and the other annual once it gets to 3 years old. But in order to keep our 5/10 year warranty we need to get it serviced annually at the dealer we bought it from. It ain’t cheap but it provides peace of mind. Oh and guess what? It’s like getting a WoF anyway. You don’t think they’d just go and fix something and bill me for it if it needed it?

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  30. peterwn (3,335 comments) says:

    Good! Now i wish that Chris Tremain would smell the coffee and revert to 10 year (preferably 10 year 9 month passports as UK does). His reasoning against it is pathetic and seems he is a victim of a ‘Sir Humphrey’. It is this sort of attitude which tends to help elections. How can a party win if government actions unnecessarily brass off party supporters and activists. IMO this sore of attitude from 1990’s national ministers helped keep national out of power for 9 years instead of 3.

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  31. Ed Snack (1,940 comments) says:

    Damn, so my cheap runabout 1999 Corolla will still need 6 monthly checks, which is a shame as it usually has no problems at all passing.

    And mileage is only a partial determinant of wear, a lot of items simply age, so a low mileage car like Rex’s father’s is not that much safer than a high mileage one.

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  32. SPC (5,669 comments) says:

    People are already scheduled to spend the money saved on paying higher petrol taxes.

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  33. Malcontented Lady () says:

    Less govt always good

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  34. Manolo (14,173 comments) says:

    Yes, get the NZ passport to its previous 10 year duration. It was cut to 5 years by the parasitical Maurice Williamson on the grounds of “security”. Tui ad.

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  35. the conservative (67 comments) says:

    National have got it right on this one, except ‘kilometres’ would have been better; having said that, this is a move in the right direction.

    But sadly, they didn’t get it right on gay marriage; they didn’t get it right on the Foreshore and Seabed Act; they didn’t get it right on the sale of the Crafer farms; they haven’t got it right on welfare; they haven’t done anything about the far-left control of education and the media; they haven’t got it right on over-inflated house prices………….

    —-but I guess John Key poses well with gay boys and does the Kangnam style well.

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  36. Fox (206 comments) says:

    [DPF: You realise these are minimum not maximum checks. I’d say those who can afford to buy brand new cars generally also take them back to the manufacturer for regular checks outside the WOF regime. Do you also realise some countries have NO mandated checks at all? They just trust people to be sensible and check as they feel the need]

    If the Government has hard numbers to suggest that the proportion of new car owners taking their car back for regular checks is extremely high (95%+), then I have no problem with it.
    However the fact that you used the word ‘generally’ suggests that you also assume there are exceptions, people who don’t bother with servicing and don’t mind voiding their warranty, although we’re both unclear as to what extent. I’m just questioning why these exceptions shouldn’t be covered by the legislation.

    And yes, having lived in QLD I am well aware that some countries don’t require any checks at all. I think it’s great and is actually the system I would advocate for.
    After all, it is based on the assumption that it’s not just rich people with new cars who are responsible enough to have their car serviced, without being prompted by a WoF check.

    I’m just saying, if the Government IS going to go through the length of maintaining a WoF system, they might as well do so with some level of consistency.

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  37. MT_Tinman (3,322 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom (4,912) Says:
    January 27th, 2013 at 7:58 pm
    c
    Once upon a time WoFs only tested for things that actually had a safety implication – brakes, lights, horn, seat belts – and not the multitude of mostly trivial nonsense that needs to be ticked off nowadays. And it was done by a government agency which thus had no financial imperative to find fault.

    Not in my 45 years of car ownership.

    Living mainly rural (or semi-rural) you’d take your vehicle to whichever garage nearby did warrants, they’d throw it out on kingpins (or some other expensive-to-fix “fault”), you’d go away, grease the hell out of the vehicle, take it to the other local WoF issuing garage who would then issue you with the warrant.

    Six months later you’d do it all over again.

    Rex, 45 years ago they’d check damned near everything that is checked now but the check would be by sight, smell and feel, no electronics (which makes sense, morris 8s, Minors, Vauxhall Veloxs, Vanguards and Mark IIs etc. had no bloody electronics either.

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  38. tedbear (153 comments) says:

    The next change should follow the UK example – no wof issued unless the owner produces insurance.

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  39. woodburner (30 comments) says:

    Given most new cars are sold with some kind of 3-5 year service package built into the sale price, I doubt that there is much risk of those cars not being maintained until the compulsory checks kick in

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  40. cubit (190 comments) says:

    The real issue is the huge number of vehicles on our roads that don’t have a warrant at all (or registration). These changes to the WOF system won’t affect that group of irresponsible drivers one little bit. they will just carry on. Oh, and by the way the unwarranted and unregistered cars all seem to to have a readily identifiable look of mechanical unworthiness. Perhaps they are the ones that make up the statistic associating mechanical defect to accidents.

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  41. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @RedBaiter and Rex – having it based on kilometres driven is completely wrong. Driving a car on the open road provides far less strain on it than driving it short distances around towns and cities. Whats more, new cars and lease cars come with extracare warranties and servicing programs which, if things were done on km driven would be ignored.

    What has been suggested here is good – comments from ‘experts’ who sit at home at their computer desks thinking they know better are not worth much weight compared to people who actually work in the industry.

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  42. rouppe (983 comments) says:

    So is it yearly checks for cars younger than 1 Jan 2000 for ever? So in 2025 you’re still getting yearly warrants for a 2000 car?

    Why is a 26 year old car in 2025 any safer than a 13 year old car now?

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  43. Redbaiter (10,443 comments) says:

    “comments from ‘experts’ who sit at home at their computer desks thinking they know better are not worth much weight compared to people who actually work in the industry.”

    The views of such experts are frequently aimed at lining their own pockets rather than providing objective and real solutions.

    The WOF system is still a disgusting criminal rort and Bridge’s solutions only go a very short distance in trying to right the situation.

    Does not bode well for the energy industry. Simon should perhaps stick to regulations on pet poodles.

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  44. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    Six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before 1 January 2000

    So if I import a classic from the UK, it’ll only need yearly checks despite being 40-50 years old and despite identical cars existing here in NZ that will need 6 monthly checks?

    In the UK you can have special registration, register your classic for a weekend to take it on a club tour or similar. That’s impossible here, you have to jump through the 3 month exemption hoops which require a WOF, WOF requires driving on the road to the station, driving on the road requires a valid rego…

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  45. questions (209 comments) says:

    tvb (3,051) Says: ” no insurance clunkers.”

    What the fuck has insurance got to do with anything?

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