Thousands of Australian car imports are 'ticking time bombs' on our roads

Thousands of vehicles on New Zealand roads could be "ticking time bombs" according to Trademe, and their owners may not know.

NZTA says 60 per cent of the 4-5000 vehicles imported each year from Australia are statutory write-offs. Source: Fair Go

The vehicles are statutory write-offs (SWOs) in Australia –  "so badly damaged they're not safe or economical to repair" according to the New South Wales definition, yet imported and sold here.

NZTA says 60 per cent of the 4-5000 vehicles imported each year from Australia are SWOs, and more than 6000 are on a NZTA list.

Trademe has announced that from July it will require car dealers to declare if the vehicle being sold is a SWO, because consumers are paying too much.

Trademe's Jon Duffy says flood damage is especially worrying as it affects electronic componentry, and the vehicles can be "a ticking time bomb waiting to go off".

Auckland mum Sacha Perry paid $18,000 for a Mazda hatchback last year. It's probably fit for parts only, worth about $5000 because of flood damage.

It passed a pre-purchase inspection but the dealer didn't tell her it was a SWO.

"I hate driving it, I'm nervous driving it, I hate taking the kids in it," she says, but she can't afford to get a new car.

The dealer, Mukesh Chand, hasn't paid the full refund ordered by the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

Trademe has been pressing the Government to act, with little luck.

Now the NZTA list is to be upgraded as of this Friday.

"I'm fully aware that information should be easily found and accessible to all participant", Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss told TVNZ's Fair Go.

The Commerce Commission says two investigations are underway, and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith told Fair Go he's asked officials to report back on the issue.

The NZTA list of SWOs can be found here.