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Further restrictions on noisy vehicles proposed

Hon Harry Duynhoven
Minister for Transport Safety

8 August 2008
Media Statement
Further restrictions on noisy vehicles proposed

Additional proposed amendments to the Vehicle Equipment Rule have been released today for public consultation by Harry Duynhoven, Minister for Transport Safety.

The proposed amendments are intended to tighten legislation around noisy vehicles that came into effect in June 2008.

The proposed amendments allow Warrant and Certificate of Fitness vehicle inspectors to send light vehicles (vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes) with modified exhaust systems that emit noise they consider not ‘less than or similar to’ the original exhaust system straight for a metered tail-pipe noise test. Inspectors would not have to give vehicle owners the option of repairing the exhaust first.

If a vehicle’s exhaust is found to be louder than 95 decibels, the owner will have to repair it to meet a lower limit of 90 decibels and undergo a second metered test. Only when it has reached 90 decibels will the exhaust get a ‘certified’ sticker.

The use of externally vented or un-muffled types of ‘blow-off’ valves on turbocharged vehicles is also proposed to be prohibited under the amendments.

Noise requirements for vehicles with non-modified exhausts entering New Zealand will also be updated to reflect the standards applying in their country of origin, or first registration.

“It was always the intention to tighten the Rule so that the number of noisy vehicles on our roads can continue to decrease,” Mr Duynhoven said.

“The Government wants to give car owners the chance to do the right thing and legislation introduced in June 2008 allows people to do that, while still being able to deal with the worst offenders.

“These proposed amendments to the Rule will mean further penalties for vehicle owners with noisy exhausts who continue to fail to comply with the law. When they are caught they will have to meet a stricter noise limit.”

Under the proposed amendments, Police will also have the power to send a vehicle with an overly noisy modified exhaust through the same process.

Changes to the Vehicle Equipment Rule, which came into effect in June, now mean that all vehicles with a modified exhaust system that fail the subjective assessment at Warrant or Certificate of Fitness must either repair the exhaust to reduce noise or pass a metered noise test and comply with the decibel limit.

As well as this, vehicles imported into the country with modified exhausts that fail a subjective noise test are required to be repaired or take a metered test and comply with the 90 decibel limit.

Penalties for operating a vehicle in a noisy manner were also revised and now carry 25 demerit points and a $50 fine.

The draft Rule, accompanying information and an on-line submissions form are available from the New Zealand Transport Agency at:, or by calling the NZTA contact centre on 0800 699 000.

Submissions are open until 17 September 2008.

To read the media release and questions and answers about changes to the Vehicle Equipment Rule that came into effect on 1 June 2008, click here:



1. What is being released for public comment?

Comments are being sought on proposed amendments to the vehicle noise testing provisions in the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Equipment 2004 (the Vehicle Equipment Rule). The amendments are set out in the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Equipment Amendment [2009] (Noise).

2. What are the proposed amendments?

If a light vehicle (NB: ‘Light vehicle’ – applies to vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes) with modified exhaust goes for a Warrant or Certificate of Fitness inspection and the inspector finds the tailpipe noise is not “less than or similar” to the noise expected from a standard exhaust of that vehicle (and there is no evidence that it has passed a certified metered tail-pipe noise test), there will be no option for the owner to repair it before undergoing an objective (metered) test.

The inspector will send the vehicle straight for a metered test at the vehicle owner’s expense (approximate cost of $150).

To require that a light vehicle manufactured after 1 January 1985 which fails an objective (metered) inspection be repaired and pass a second objective test at 90 decibels, rather than 95 decibels as at present.

Only when it complies with a limit of 90 decibels or less will it get a certificate and a ‘certified’ sticker for the exhaust. The car can then go back to the Warrant or Certificate of Fitness inspector who will issue a certificate.

Where Police direct a noisy light vehicle to have a Warrant of Fitness test and it fails the subjective noise test, it will then need to undergo an objective (metered) noise test. The vehicle can only return to the road after it has been repaired to a 90 decibel limit. Vehicles manufactured before 1 January 1985 will retain a 95 decibel limit.

To prohibit the use of externally vented or un-muffled types of compressor pressure relief (or blow-off) valves in internal combustion engines.

Update vehicle noise requirements for vehicles with non-modified exhausts entering the fleet for the first time.

3. What are the benefits of the proposed amendments?

The changes are intended to progressively tighten entry standards for vehicles as they come into the fleet. The measures will also help to reduce the number of noisy vehicles on our roads.

4. Why were these proposed new amendments not just included in the June 2008 amendment Rule?

The Government wants to give car owners a chance to do the right thing. The June 2008 Rule was designed to give vehicle owners the opportunity to comply with the law, while also dealing with the very worst offenders.

It was always the intention to further tighten the Rule, so annoyance from noisy vehicles can be lessened.

5. How will these proposed amendments impact on vehicle owners that already have modified exhausts?

By the time the proposals come into effect, most vehicles in New Zealand with modified exhausts will already comply with the current Rule. The proposed changes will only target vehicles which continue to exceed the current Vehicle Equipment Rule noise limit which took effect on 1 June 2008.

6. Why do those who have failed an objective (metered) test level of 95 decibels have to pass a subsequent objective test at 90 decibels under the proposed amendments?

This is intended to send a message to those who do not comply with the noise limits introduced on 1 June 2008 that they will have to meet a stricter noise limit when they are caught. This will provide an incentive for early compliance and send a clear message that illegally modifying vehicles will not be tolerated.

7. What is a blow-off valve and why is it in the proposals?

A blow-off valve is fitted to the engine to release excess air pressure and prevent potential component damage.

In standard form, the operation of a blow-off valve is usually inaudible. However, there are replacement valves available that intentionally make noise – characteristically a distinctive "psssshhht" sound when the accelerator pedal is released (usually during gear changes).

This unnecessary noise can be very loud and sharp, disturbing pedestrians and even affecting people in nearby buildings.

8. Why is there not one consistent noise limit for vehicles with standard (non-modified) exhausts entering the fleet?

Standards applied in other countries vary greatly and it is not possible to create a concise table of updated noise decibel limits.

The proposed amendment Rule would update the current requirements to ensure that vehicles entering New Zealand have met noise standards that are in line with the maximum limits allowed in other jurisdictions.

Vehicles entering the fleet from 1 May 2009 that can not show proof of compliance with the above would have to meet the new drive-by limits set out in the decibel table in the Rule.

9. How much does it cost to have an exhaust repaired so it matches the 90 decibel limit?

The estimated cost will vary for each vehicle and the extent of repair required, but is expected to average between $300 and $500.

10. Will there be a time frame for vehicle owners who fail WoF/CoF inspections to comply?

No. If a vehicle fails its WoF/CoF inspection and the old Warrant or Certificate of Fitness has expired, it is not allowed to be driven on the road.

11. Will the vehicle be able to be returned for the metered noise test with a standard exhaust in place?

Yes. It is proposed that the complying exhaust will be stickered and be the one to which the WoF or CoF applies.

It is already illegal to drive a vehicle on the road if the standard exhaust is removed and replaced with another that would not pass a Warrant or Certificate of Fitness inspection.

12. What is a subjective noise test?

A subjective noise test does not use electronic equipment and relies on the judgement and experience of the tester to assess whether the level of exhaust noise meets the legal requirements.

13. What is an objective noise test?

An objective noise test uses metered testing equipment to measure vehicle exhaust noise levels against a pre-determined standard.

14. Who carries out the objective noise test?

Low Volume Vehicle certifiers carry out the tests.

15. Where are vehicles tested?

A list of providers and their contact details can be found on the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association website at:

16. How can I have my say on the proposed amendments?

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is inviting submissions now.

Details of the proposals are contained in the Overview to public consultation draft of Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Equipment Amendment [2009] (Noise).

Copies of this or further information about the proposed amendment Rule can be obtained by calling the NZTA contact centre on 0800 699 000 or by emailing

The draft Rule, its overview and accompanying information material, together with an on-line submissions form, are also available at:

17. How can I get a copy of the Vehicle Equipment Rule?

All published Land Transport Rules are available on the NZTA website at or can be purchased at selected bookshops throughout New Zealand that sell government legislation.

The draft of the proposed amendment Rule on the website has been linked to the Vehicle Equipment Rule.

18. How long do I have to make a submission?

Submissions on the draft amendment Rule close on 17 September 2008.

19. When are the proposed changes to the Rule expected to take effect?

The proposals will be consulted on as part of the normal Rule making process and may be subject to change.

Any implementation date will depend on practical issues, including matters such as whether any other changes are required to Warrant and Certificate of Fitness programmes.

Subject to government approval, it is proposed that the amendment Rule will be signed in March 2009 and come into force by May 2009.


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