A Whangārei mechanic has been suspended from issuing warrant of fitness certificates after failing to carry out brake tests with the correct equipment and allowing unauthorised people to use his credentials to carry out inspections.

He is the second Northland vehicle inspector to have their licence suspended in six months.

Owners of 94 affected vehicles from the latest suspension will be contacted directly by the NZ Transport Agency to have the vehicles rechecked as soon as possible. Vouchers would be provided to cover the cost of retesting.

The agency suspended vehicle inspector Hapi Brown and his Whangārei-based inspecting organisation John St Automotive Limited, trading as Hapi's Automotive Ltd, last Friday.


"We are unaware of specific concerns relating to individual vehicles however, due to the poor quality of Mr Brown's inspections, there is a possibility that some vehicles may have been incorrectly passed," the agency said in a written statement.

"For this reason, we strongly encourage people who have a current Warrant of Fitness issued by Mr Brown and John St Automotive Limited, to get their vehicle rechecked."

It comes as the agency tightens up on inspections and after Dargaville Diesel Specialists (DDS) were suspended from issuing warrants in August last year after an investigation sparked by a fatal crash, near Dargaville.

In that case the NZ Transport Agency wrote to all 1956 vehicle owners who had been issued warrants in the previous 12 months from DDS recommending they get their vehicles rechecked as soon as possible.

Brown told the Northern Advocate yesterday he was extremely disappointed he had been suspended and would do everything to ensure his business could return to inspecting vehicles.

"Something like this is really a mark against you. I can personally guarantee 100 per cent the work I have done on these vehicles that were passed for warrant of fitness."

He explained he had been without a brake testing unit for about a month this year as it had been sent away for calibration in the first week of January and was subsequently lost.

Brown, with 54 years in the mechanical trade, carried out his own manual brake testing which he said detected faulty brakes which were repaired.


Normally, the electronic brake tester was placed in the footwell on the passengers side. The vehicle was then driven at 30km/h and the brakes applied. The vehicle was required to stop within nine metres. The machine was able to sense the brake efficiency and gave a percentage that was recorded on the warrant paper.

The machine was also used to test the handbrake, where the vehicle was driven at 18km/h and the brake applied with the vehicle having to stop within 18 metres.

Brown said he had carried out the test plenty of times and was well aware of the stopping distances, even without the electronic machine.

Whether the vehicle could maintain a straight line, rather than pulling to either side, was also an indicator of the effectiveness of the brakes.

Brown said he had previously been told by an inspector, when the machine was away for a week in Tauranga for testing, he could carry out his manual tests for warrants.

"All the cars that I have checked I can guarantee it's a safe vehicle by my way of testing brakes. I'm satisfied the vehicles passed were safe."

In relation to allowing unauthorised people to use Brown's credentials to carry out inspections, he said he had allowed a staff member to enter details into the computer under his name.

"It goes back to 2013 and I was in hospital waiting for knee surgery when I got a call from the boys. I let them put the details into the computer."

Last October, it was announced an extensive review of NZTA compliance files by law firm Meredith Connell was under way and a tougher enforcement regime was being implemented.

If you have any questions contact NZTA on 0800 108 809.