Checking cars for safety requirements only once a year will lead to an increase in unsafe vehicles on the road, a Napier mechanic warns.
Proposed changes reducing the frequency of Warrant of Fitness safety checks could save drivers millions of dollars each year, according to the Ministry of Transport.
The options were revealed this week in a discussion document on New Zealand's vehicle licensing system.
Mechanic Ken Deihl of Hawke's Bay Auto Electrical said increasing the periods between WoF checks would require tough new standards.
"People only come in every six months anyway, and at $43 to $45 for a test - it's really not that much," he said.
Problems with brakes, tyres and lights were all regularly found during inspections, he said.
"If we see someone's tyres are getting down, we try and tell them but it will be a lot harder to do this if they only come in once a year."
A proposed "mileage system", where cars are checked after they have travelled a certain distance, could help counter the problem, he said.
The ministry proposals include streamlining the Warrant of Fitness scheme and changes to the vehicle registration programme.
Currently, vehicles must be inspected every six months if older than six years. Newer vehicles are inspected annually.
At a cost of about $50 per inspection, Kiwis are forking out nearly $250 million in fees each year.
Proposed changes include tougher testing standards, but less frequent inspections and the introduction of demerit points penalising those who don't comply with WoF safety standards.
A further seven changes to vehicle registration are included in the document, plus new options for the Certificate of Fitness and Transport Licensing.
The AA says the changes could bring New Zealand into line with the rest of the world.
"New Zealand is the only country in the world that requires most vehicles to undergo a safety inspection every six months," spokesman Mark Stockdale said.
"Most countries only require an inspection once a year or every two years, and in many Australian and US states, there is no regular inspection at all."
Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said about $245 million was paid in WoF inspection fees by Kiwis each year.
"And the time spent getting a WoF is estimated as worth $100 million.
"But, it is unclear whether this results in fewer crashes caused by vehicles."
HOW WE RATE
Average number of vehicle safety inspections over an eight-year period:
- New Zealand: 13
- NSW, Australia: 3
- United Kingdom: 6
- Germany: 3
- Japan: 2