Visible smoke test now part of warrant of fitness

  • Judith Tizard
Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard with Dave Gibson of Motor Doctors check out the new visible smoke test to reduce vehicle emissions. (Oct 2006)

From tomorrow all vehicles will need to pass a smoky vehicle check to get a warrant of fitness says Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard.

The new test involves a visual check of the smoke emitted while a vehicle idles for five seconds then while accelerating from idle to 2500rpm. If the vehicle emits clearly visible smoke for five seconds or more it will fail the warrant and will need to be tuned or repaired before it can pass.

The test is one of a range of government transport initiatives to reduce vehicle emissions and clean up air quality.

“Not only do vehicles emitting visible exhaust cause health problems but they also impact on the environment'" says Judith Tizard.

"Forty percent of New Zealand's carbon dioxide emissions come from transport – much of this is from private car owners."

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas associated with climate change and is regarded as the most damaging gas to the environment.

Exhaust emissions are also a significant cause of health problems such as asthma, heart disease and bronchitis. A 2000 study estimated that almost 400 New Zealanders died prematurely each year because of vehicle emissions and it put the cost to the country at $442 million each year.

“About 10% of vehicles produce 40% of the harmful vehicle emissions. These poorly maintained vehicles could release 10 times more emissions than a well-maintained vehicle.

"Improving how we drive and maintain our vehicles will show real benefits for everyone."

The Minister said the visible smoke test is a good practical step to further reduce vehicle emissions.

The visible smoke test builds on existing measures to control motor vehicle emissions and improve air quality. The Ministry of Transport’s Choke the Smoke campaign encourages owners to tune their vehicles to help reduce emissions and save on running costs.

The government has also improved fuel specifications, the Police are ticketing smoky vehicles and further restrictions on imported vehicles are being considered. The government is also encouraging drivers to avoid short trips and to use public transport or to walk or bike.

Further information

  • The new Vehicle Emission Rule (2006) has been made under the Land Transport Act 1998. For details, click here.
  • The test will take less than a minute, so any increase in costs should be small because the test takes such a short time and no special equipment is needed.