News Next article

Statutory motor vehicle 'write offs' must be disclosed

All motor vehicle traders listing vehicles on Trade Me must disclose in the listing body if a vehicle imported from Aust

By Trust and Safety 2 December 2020

Over the past few years there has been a large number of vehicles in the New Zealand fleet that have been through the statutory write-off process in Australia* and then on-sold to New Zealand buyers and dealers, who are not aware of the history of the vehicle.

Our policy is that this information must be disclosed by Motor Vehicle Traders listing these vehicles.

All motor vehicle traders listing vehicles on Trade Me must disclose in the listing body if a vehicle imported from Australia was a statutory write off.

This applies to vehicles imported from 1 January 2011

Suggested wording to place in the listing body:

"This vehicle was imported from Australia as a statutory write off. Buyers should ensure they fully understand the history of the vehicle before purchase."

Why is this an issue?

Vehicles which have been written off in Australia may have suffered significant damage, including flood or fire.

Although they may have been cleaned, the damage may only have been repaired cosmetically to get the vehicle past border compliance, and there could be underlying safety issues (particularly with regards to electrical componentry).

We‘re concerned about the safety of our members and we believe consumers need to know the accurate history of a vehicle so they have the opportunity to have the vehicle inspected for specific types of damage or repair.

We understand that vehicles are meant to entry certification before vehicles are able to be driven on NZ roads, but there are ways to ‘work around’ this regulatory requirement.

We’re aware of cases where consumers have paid the same price for vehicles that have been through the statutory write-off process as they would for vehicles that have not suffered significant damage.

This means consumers are paying an inflated price for these vehicles based on a misleading impression of the vehicle’s history. And that’s just not cool.

Trade Me is not protesting against vehicles being appropriately repaired and then on-sold in New Zealand, but we believe consumers need to have an accurate picture of the true state of the vehicle to assess the vehicle’s worth with full information.

We believe that motor vehicle dealers who fail to disclose this information are making a misrepresentation by omission and this could amount to a breach of the Fair Trading Act.

We are aware the Commerce Commission is investigating this issue.

How can motor vehicle traders comply with this policy?

New Zealand importers will be fully aware of the history of vehicles they import from Australia. This is always recorded on the documentation accompanying the vehicle as it enters New Zealand.

Other motor vehicle traders may use NZTA or MotorWeb to check the status of the vehicle.

We recognise that the NZTA’s database is a starting point and not a comprehensive data set.

If there is any doubt as to a vehicle’s status, traders may wish to consider exploring the vehicle’s repair certification status as a lead.

We expect traders to make best endeavours to determine the vehicle’s status and disclose if the vehicle was a statutory write-off, particularly if the vehicle was imported into NZ on or after 1 January 2011.

* Statutory write offs are vehicles that are written off for insurance purposes because they’ve suffered significant damage. This damage could be from a crash, flood, fire or other accident. Once a vehicle is written off in Australia, it's never allowed back on the road - hence the export market to NZ.

Image credit courtesy Creative Commons licence by The NMRA


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety