How 11,000 death traps got back onto Qld roads
THOUSANDS of unsafe written-off vehicles are finding their way back onto Queensland's roads each year without any quality inspections of the repair work.
A leading motoring body claims backyard repairers are exploiting a loophole, which only requires a roadworthy certificate and vehicle ID check to re-register a write-off, creating potential death traps.
Some 11,000 written-off vehicles were re-registered last year, according to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, which said the inspection a vehicle underwent was a roadworthy and an ID check to prevent stolen cars being "rebirthed".
The lax laws in Queensland currently are under review by TMR to bring them into line with other states.
The Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ) claim repaired write-offs are a major cause for concern, with some cars sold via Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree potential deathtraps with missing airbags and bent chassis.
The MTAQ and RACQ are calling on the State Government to introduce a repair quality inspection on all written-off vehicles before they are re-registered.
In NSW, written-off vehicles are predominantly banned, and in Victoria, must undergo a thorough quality of repair inspection.
The way to identify a written-off vehicle in Queensland is for potential buyers to do an online Personal Properties Security Register check, which flag cars as repairable write-offs.
MTAQ used car chairman Peter Dever said Queensland should follow the lead of NSW where written-off vehicles could not be re-registered, with minor exemptions including some hail-damaged cars.
Mr Dever said unscrupulous backyard repairers were buying written-off vehicles, cheaply repairing them to pass a roadworthy certificate and then passing them off as their own car.
"A backyard repairer can repair a vehicle by whatever means they deem appropriate with no checks along the way," he said.
"They get a roadworthy certificate… but there could be airbags that aren't functioning, a chassis could be bent… and the list can go on and on.
"People who are buying them off Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace are completely unaware it's been written off.
"We don't want to see them on the road."
Mr Dever said that unlike licensed motor dealers, backyard operators are under no obligation to disclose the history of a vehicle when privately selling it online.
"A licensed motor dealer must disclose that it was previously a written-off vehicle," he said.
The TMR review has asked for submissions from all interested parties, such as insurers, vehicle repairers and industry bodies, by the end of July before it makes any changes.
"We are looking at strengthening the current vehicle repair process with additional requirements, such as extra inspections or certifications," a TMR spokesperson said.
RACQ's head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said there needed to at least be an inspection on the quality of repairs on all written-off vehicles.
He said a roadworthy was based on a limited number items and was not a comprehensive safety inspection.
"That is a problem on any roadworthy inspection because you never know how well the airbag is going to perform," Mr Spalding said.
"If the repairer hasn't put back the right bits and pieces, often you would never know.
"Without the element of checking the quality of the repairs, the problem for the consumer is you don't know how well that car has been fixed."
The National Auto Collision Alliance, which represents smash repair businesses, wants written-off vehicles to only be good for spare parts.
NACA chairman Ben Chesterfield said Queensland consumers were buying cars at prices that were too good to be true because they were and they were putting their lives at risk in the process.
"Not allowing write-offs back on the road would be better for the consumer because they would not be buying vehicles that had been repaired incorrectly and placing themselves and their passengers at risk," he said.
HOW EASY IT IS TO PUT A WRITTEN-OFF VEHICLE BACK ON THE ROAD
• Buy written-off vehicle at auction
• Carry out repair work with no quality-of-work inspection
• Obtain a roadworthy certificate
• Pass Queensland vehicle inspection ID check for written-off vehicles
• Sell written-off vehicle online with no disclosure of its history