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Smoky Vehicles Warnings Begin

A new regulation aimed at smoky vehicles, known as the 10 second rule, comes into effect today.

Under the 10 second rule a vehicle is not allowed to emit a continuous stream of clearly visible smoke or vapour for 10 seconds or more.

Associate transport minister Judith Tizard said that the rule would allow the police to more easily identify and prosecute owners of vehicles that produce excessive smoke.

While the change takes effect from today, for the first six months the police will be issuing information pamphlets to owners of smoky vehicles instead of infringement notices.

“The police will focus on educating motorists on the causes and effects of smoky vehicles, rather than enforcement, for the first six months. But if they spot a vehicle that is belching fumes so badly it poses a safety risk to others, then the owner can still expect a ticket.”

“This gives most people the chance to get their car in order before prosecutions start. After that initial six months there will really be no excuse for continuing to use a smoky vehicle.”

After that time owners of smoky vehicles could face a fine of $150.

The 10 second rule is based on a similar test that has been used successfully in New South Wales for 20 years. It allows for the occasional puff of smoke under short-term acceleration or gear changes while identifying engines in need of maintenance, repair or tuning, Ms Tizard said.

Most modern vehicles only produce smoke when they are worn, poorly maintained or tuned, or in need of repair. Properly maintained and tuned petrol engines should not produce any visible smoke, she said.

Early diesel engines were designed to produce visible, but not excessive, smoke as part of normal operating conditions, with occasional heavier bursts when changing gear, acceleration or under load. Newer diesel engines are built in accordance with more stringent emissions standards and should not produce any tailpipe smoke except for those very short periods when changing gear under load or acceleration.

The exception to the rule would be large trucks or other heavy vehicles working under load, lugging up a hill or accelerating. Under these conditions the diesel engine will emit smoke and were designed to do so.

“However, the smoke produced should not be so thick or dense black that you can’t see through it.”

“This new requirement is not targeted at any particular group or particular vehicles. Instead, it is targeted at poorly maintained engines in need of service or repair.”

Ms Tizard said the government would not be following the lead of the Auckland Regional Council which last year ran a “dob in a smoky vehicle” campaign.

“That would just divert valuable police resources from much more important activities. Instead the new regulation will allow police to check for smoky vehicles as part of their routine vehicle checks, with little extra effort.”


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