Motor Vehicles

Motor Vehicle Sales Act
The Motor Vehicle Sales Act came into force on 15 December 2003. This law has changed the way motor vehicles are sold.

These changes include:

  • All motor vehicle traders will be required to register on the Motor Vehicle Sales Register (including car market operators and vehicle auctioneers)

  • Traders will be required to display a Supplier Information Notice with all used motor vehicles for sale. Car market operators must take reasonable steps to ensure private sellers display this notice.

  • If you have a problem with a vehicle you cannot resolve with the trader, you will be able to file a claim directly with the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

Before you start
Buying and owning a vehicle are a major expense, so it makes sense to do some homework before you buy. We all want to avoid a bad deal - you can start by following these general tips.

For all used vehicle purchases, from any type of seller, we recommend:

  • Doing your homework on the market.
  • Spend time checking out the vehicle market - talk to friends and family, read newspaper ads and visit traders' yards, auctions, and car fairs.
  • Getting an independent mechanical check of the vehicle before you agree to buy it.

Before you buy, take the vehicle for an independent mechanical check. Some motor vehicle traders may have already arranged a check of the vehicles they offer for sale. If you want to rely on this check, make sure you know when the test was done, what was checked, who carried it out and what the test results were.

Once you have this information, you can then decide whether to: still go ahead with the purchase; negotiate on the price to take account of any problems: or, ask the seller to fix the problems before you buy the vehicle. If the seller agrees to fix the problems, ask for this in writing.

The Land Transport Safety Authority publishes a detailed Factsheet called Buying a Used Car (Factsheet number 71), advising what to look for when checking the quality of a used vehicle. This free Factsheet is available from the LTSA's website.

Checking there is no money owing

A previous owner may still owe money to a finance company for the vehicle. You can check whether money is owing on the vehicle by checking the Personal Property Securities Register. If you buy a vehicle knowing that money is owed on it, then the finance company could take the vehicle from you.

Checking the vehicle's Warrant of Fitness

All sellers of motor vehicles must ensure that the motor vehicle has a Warrant of Fitness issued no more than one month before the date the vehicle is delivered to the buyer.
If you buy a vehicle with a recently issued Warrant of Fitness but the vehicle does not appear to be in a warrantable condition, contact the LTSA on 0800 699 000. The LTSA can investigate testing stations or garages that incorrectly issue warrants.

“ As Is, Where Is”

If the vehicle does not have a current Warrant of Fitness it must be sold “as is, where is”. In this case, you should give the seller a written undertaking that the vehicle will not be driven on the road except for the purpose of getting a new Warrant of Fitness - this is a protection for the seller.

Changing registration

Within seven days of purchasing or obtaining a vehicle you must notify a Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) agent by completing and lodging the required form, presenting identification and paying the fee. LTSA agents are NZ Post, the Automobile Association, Vehicle Testing the USA, Vehicle Information the USA, and On Road the USA.

If you sell or dispose of the vehicle you must notify the LTSA. The LTSA publishes a factsheet called Change of Ownership of a Motor Vehicle (Factsheet number 41) that sets out the change of ownership requirements that both a seller and a buyer must complete. This factsheet is available on the LTSA's website. Following the procedures outlined in this factsheet can ensure you do not get caught with unpaid vehicle licence fees, Road User Charges or other people's fines.