I’ve been told that my car has a safety defect. What can I do?
If a vehicle manufacturer finds a safety-related defect in a vehicle which may result in personal injury, they may decide to issue a safety recall. The manufacturer’s New Zealand representative (i.e. a local dealer franchise) will contact the owners by letter and arrange to have the fault fixed at a dealer franchise.
If you get such a letter about your car but don’t respond it - or you don’t receive it at all because the address details are incorrect on the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) database - the manufacturer could ask NZ Transport Agency to place a ‘ban flag’ on your car. A ‘ban flag’ will prevent your car from passing its next Warrant of Fitness.
All vehicle recalls in New Zealand are listed on the NZTA’s Vehicle Safety Recalls database. Be aware though that even if a specific make, model and year is listed, not all such vehicles are necessarily affected - so the best thing to do if you are concerned, is to contact your local dealer and also check with NZTA that the address details for your car are correct.
If your car is not subject to a recall but you have safety concerns it, it might be a good idea to have the car checked by a professional mechanic. They will also be able to give you good advice on car safety and how to fix safety issues in your car. If you bought your car from a trader and it is for personal or domestic use, then you are covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. This means it is the trader's responsibility to ensure that your vehicle was of acceptable quality when you bought it. For information on what to do if you have problems with a vehicle you’ve recently bought from a trader, you can read our Problems with Car Dealers and Problems with your Car pages or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.
For information to help you choose a car according to its safety features, you can visit the RightCar website. This website also has a searchable database of Used Car Safety Ratings. The ratings are based on accident data from NZ and five states in Australia in the last 20 years.