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Govt defends WoF changes

Sunday 27 Jan 2013 5:51 p.m.

The Government has finally confirmed changes to the warrant of fitness scheme, which it says will save motorists money. From next year, cars registered since the year 2000 will only have to be warranted once a year.

But critics say it means greater risk for road users, and that 2000 jobs in the industry will go.

The average car on New Zealand roads is 13 years old. Currently cars have annual warrant check ups until they're six years old, then twice a year. But the Government's reducing that requirement to save money.

“Big economic benefits in terms of time and costs for Kiwi motorists – $1.8 billion in Kiwis’ pockets over 30 years,” says National MP Simon Bridges.

The changes will see an inspection of new cars, then annual inspections kick in once they're three years old. After that it's annual inspections only for cars registered since January 2000. Six monthly inspections for older cars will be retained.

Mechanic Keith Webb's been issuing warrants for more than 30 years. He asks, why change a system that's not broken?

“I don't think he's listened to people in the industry as well, and I think he's put money before safety,” says Mr Webb.

The Motor Traders’ Association says the extra risk will cost lives.

“Governments say anywhere between eight to 120 people over 10 years, and there are extra serious injuries beyond that,” says MTA spokesman Ian Stronach.

The Government says it will mitigate risk with education for drivers and extra police enforcement. The critics aren't convinced.

“They're really not going to have the facility to check suspension, brake lines, the underneath of cars, exhausts, all the things that are normally done on a hoist in a workshop,” says Mr Stronach. “That's why they're done by specialists.”

Up to 2000 of those specialists will now lose their jobs.

“The money that flows from this will flow back into the economy in a variety of ways,” says Mr Bridges. “Jobs will be created in other places.”

Warrants cost upwards of $40. The associate minister hopes drivers will use that money to service cars voluntarily. Those in the industry say it's false economy.

“After 12 months the maintenance is going to be huge and the increase will be well over $1000 by the time you put on four tyres, brakes, everything else,” says Mr Webb.

The changes will be introduced mid next year.

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