Car Choices: where should I get my Warrant of Fitness inspection?
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There’s one thing that unites us all in motoring, whether we drive a 1990s Ford Focus or a brand-new Ferrari 812. Every car needs to have a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) and every car needs to meet the same basic test criteria.
That’s why the latest in our Car Choices series covers exactly that: whether it’s better to use a main dealer, an independent testing station or keep it local with a garage close to home.
Remember, a WoF is due after three years for a brand-new vehicle, every 12 months for a vehicle after that and every six months if it was registered before January 1, 2000. The cost for an inspection can vary a lot, from $20 to nearly $100.
It’s a hot topic at the moment and one worth thinking about. The extension granted for Covid-19 lockdown to October 10 is fast running out and industry experts are warning of big demand as motorists rush to meet the deadline.
The case for a dealer
It stands to reason that getting something as straightforward as a WoF done at a dealership is going to be a relatively expensive exercise (although many will have special deals for existing customers, so don’t be shy about asking).
- Part 1: Buy new, used... or 'nused'?
- Part 2: Should you buy or lease?
- Part 3: Petrol or diesel?
- Part 4: Tips for insuring your vehicle
- Part 5: Online car buying vs purchase in person
- Part 6: Dealer or dealer? They're not all the same
- Part 7: Navigating accessories & upsells
- Part 8: Servicing, dealer or private?
However, there are plenty of other reasons to go this route, especially if you have a relatively new vehicle. It might just be easier, because it’s a business you already have a relationship with through car purchase and servicing.
More to the point, you can probably get the WoF done while other servicing work is being completed, which means you’re not making a special trip.
A dealer may also offer loan cars and/or will more than likely have a nice place for you to wait to collect the vehicle; you can get out the laptop and do a bit of WFW (Work From Workshop). If you want to make something as potentially mundane as a WoF into more of a premium experience, this is the way to do it.
Note that “dealer” doesn’t have to mean a new-car franchise. The just-launched easy123 used-car operation offers servicing, repairs and $20 WoF inspections for life, for example.
The case for a testing station
The obvious advantage of visiting an independent testing station like an AA Auto Centre or VTNZ is that they don’t offer repairs or servicing, so they have no vested interest in finding problems with a vehicle. Pricing will also be transparent across all branches nationwide.
While you do have to physically go and queue up, it’s a linear process. You bring the vehicle, you wait while it’s checked and if all is well, you get the WoF sticker and you’re gone. Assuming you have the time (it’s a classic Kiwi Saturday morning activity, surely?), it’s a nice simple exercise – no picking up or dropping off.
The disadvantage of a testing station is that if the check does reveal an issue, then you have to go somewhere else to actually get the work done – and return to have it checked off and passed.
The case for keeping it local
Back in the old days, it was common wisdom that a “local” garage might be a bit more lenient on a WoF than a dealer or testing station. A major investigation by NZTA into the industry in 2018, resulting in MTA member suspensions and tens of thousands of vehicles having to be retested, hardly helped to dispel the mythology – despite the offenders being a small minority of the total industry.
It’s safe to say that local garages have never been more stringent in their testing than they are now. And there are plenty of reasons to stick with a local provider: you might already know and trust a local business, you’re keeping your money in the community and it’s likely the cost will be at the lower end of the spectrum.
A small business will also be more likely to work around your schedule, because it’s not juggling hundreds of bookings in a big workshop. You’ll get a more personal touch.
And of course it’s location, location, location: especially if you have an older car that’s more likely to have problems. If a vehicle fails its initial WoF, the owner has 28 days to get the problems fixed and have it passed for free – but it has to go back to the same garage. So having somewhere close is a boon in that circumstance.