Wof concerns in wake of 'diabolical' law change

Centre City Auto Repairs owner Stephen Fraser inspects a vehicle for a warrant of fitness in...
Centre City Auto Repairs owner Stephen Fraser inspects a vehicle for a warrant of fitness in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The cost for a warrant of fitness inspection could increase for motorists as a ''diabolical'' law change keeps unsafe vehicles on New Zealand roads, Dunedin Warrant of Fitness Centre inspector Phil Park says.

From New Year's Day, a law change required an annual rather than six-monthly warrant of fitness inspection for vehicles under 3.5 tonnes registered in New Zealand between 2004 and 2008.

From July, the changes will apply to light vehicles registered after 2000.

New vehicles will get an initial inspection, then need annual inspections when they are three years old.

Mr Park said the $50 price for a warrant of fitness inspection at the South Dunedin centre would be evaluated and a price increase was possible because of the ''diabolical'' law change.

Dunedin driving conditions meant vehicles needed to be checked more than once a year.

A woman brought her car to the centre for a warrant this week and her tyres were bald, he said.

''She was horrified, and those tyres could have blown out with two kids in the car. That's pretty scary.''

Centre City Auto Repairs owner Stephen Fraser said he issued his first annual warrant yesterday.

He was concerned that brakes and tyres were easily worn to an unsafe condition after a year of hilly Dunedin driving and advised motorists to have their vehicle checked six months after getting a warrant.

However, many motorists would steer clear of the extra checks unless something was obviously wrong with their car, he said.

''I think for most people it will be like a toothache - they will put it off until they have to do something about it.''

He wanted a law change to allow inspectors to make more detailed inspections by removing wheels and brake drums, which would result in more vehicles failing inspections and ensure safer vehicles on the roads.

Then the inspection price would need to increase for the extra work involved, he said.

Westside Compliance & Service Centre owner Peter Whelan said he would ''most likely'' have to increase the inspection price and would re-evaluate it in six months.

Fewer inspections would result in fewer inspectors being trained.

''It is definitely going to affect the workforce.''

Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ) South Dunedin manager Graeme Lewis said there were no plans to raise its $51 inspection fee.

''We review our prices every year but at this stage there has been nothing said about any price increase.''

German company Dekra bought 60% of VTNZ in November Motor Trade Association owns the rest.

Mr Lewis said Dekra was not concerned about the law change when it bought into the company.

Duty Minister Nick Smith said he expected inspection prices to increase. An increase would be justified because a vehicle inspected annually had a greater probability of failing.

''And as a consequence that would increase the [inspection] time slightly and secondly, most businesses do operate on scale.''

Businesses had fixed costs such as rates and electricity and the fewer inspections would result in a price increase.

''I do expect there will be some increase in the cost of getting a warrant of fitness but ... you only need to get one half as often.''

Automobile Association motoring services manager Stella Stocks said AA would not advocate an inspection price increase to cover lost business earnings.

However, the New Zealand Transport Agency was reviewing its administration fees and if raised fees were imposed on warrant of fitness testing businesses, a price increase would be understandable, she said.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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