More than 17,000 cars are at risk of being taken off the road if owners have not replaced their faulty Takata Alpha airbags under a compulsory recall.
The New Zealand Transport Agency announced from early next year, vehicles that have the faulty Takata Alpha airbags will automatically fail warrant of fitness (WoF) inspections.
Kane Patena, NZ Transport Agency regulatory general manager, said the new measure is about protecting the safety of New Zealand drivers and passengers.
"Under the provisions of the compulsory recall for Takata Alpha airbags announced last year, all affected vehicles are legally required to be remedied by 31 December 2019.
"This is potentially a significant safety issue and as the vehicle safety regulator we now need to look at new approaches to ensuring the remaining vehicles have their airbags replaced.
"Age is a contributing factor to the risk posed by Alpha airbags so we can't afford to allow these vehicles to stay on the road indefinitely."
Despite widespread promotion and advertising, and multiple attempts at direct contact with owners, there are still 17,800 vehicles yet to have their airbags replaced.
Vehicles fitted with Takata Alpha airbags have been subject to a compulsory safety recall in New Zealand since April 2018.
The initial number of vehicles under compulsory recall was 82,000, of which 78.5 per cent have been completed.
"Stopping vehicles from getting WoFs is not a step we take lightly and we want to ensure vehicle owners have advance warning," Patena said.
"If you know your vehicle has Takata Alpha airbags, contact the manufacturer now – the biggest incentive is peace of mind about safety, but you can also avoid future inconvenience at WoF time around repair timings and not being able to use the vehicle."
Patena urged owners of BMW, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota vehicles who haven't checked for the compulsory recall to enter their registration plate details at the Rightcar website.
The Motor Trade Association welcomed the Government's move to prevent cars fitted with the faulty airbags getting a WoF.
"It is not safe for people to drive around in cars with airbags that will not work properly," MTA chief executive Craig Pomare said.
"In some instances, it may take a day or two – perhaps longer, to source and replace the airbags. Get on to it now and avoid the delay and inconvenience."