A Whananaki woman is worried that a lack of regulation of automotive mechanics could seriously endanger motorists.
Maudie Paul had her car repaired for a warrant of fitness by a Kamo mechanic but said after taking her vehicle to two other garages for further opinions had learnt she was driving a dangerously unsafe vehicle.
Mechanics are not regulated - outside of the Consumer Guarantees Act requirement to provide appropriate service - and membership of the Motor Trade Association (MTA) is optional.
Ms Paul said she took her 12-year-old Ford to Northend Automotive, which is not a MTA member, in December.
A mechanic there told her she needed to fix some play in the wheel to pass a warrant of fitness (WoF) inspection. She bought the requested part from BNT Automotive, a car parts supplier in Whangarei, and the mechanic installed it and signed off on her WoF.
On her drive home, she said her car was shaking so much she went to another garage, and a mechanic there told her to get the car seen to.
She took her car to a dealership for a service, and staff told her she was driving an unsafe vehicle. The repair had been done using a wrong-sized wheel bearing, which had been packed in with washers.
She got the problem fixed by a mechanic at the dealership, and went back to Northend Automotive, asking for an invoice of the job the mechanic there had done, after explaining what had happened. But Ms Paul said Northend Automotive refused to give her one, instead telling her the job would be free of charge.
Northend Automotive manager Ami Lal told the Advocate it was the repairer's policy to always issue an invoice. He believed one was available but Ms Paul had refused to pay the remainder of the bill. His mechanics had installed the bearing in good faith that it was the right one, but her urgent after-hours repair request had meant they couldn't ring BNT to verify. They had taken the car for a test drive and were assured Ms Paul was happy with the job.
Mr Lal said it was only later they had learnt BNT had told Ms Paul they had given her a similar part, but not the exact one requested - which Mr Lal said she didn't tell his mechanics.
Mr Lal said all his business' work was personally guaranteed and its WoF standards were checked by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Ms Paul said the lack of proper regulation in the industry was a concern, as there was the potential for people to be driving unsafe cars. She had written to the television show Fair Go with her concerns.
Ms Paul pointed out that as a nurse, she was legally and morally accountable to the organisation she worked for, and paid for membership of the Nursing Council enabling her to practice.
Spokesman for the MTA Hamish Stuart said motor mechanics were bound under the Consumer Guarantees Act to provide appropriate, safe service, but were not bound by a regulatory body.
Membership of MTA was voluntary, but the MTA did offer a limited service for non-members offering advice on issues.