Looking after your car is like looking after your body; the better condition you can keep it in, the better it will treat you over time. Car maintenance is a fact of life for vehicle owners, and it can be the difference between protecting yourself, your passengers and one of your most expensive assets. Some countries mandate that drivers have their vehicles tested at regular intervals, obtaining either a certificate or warrant of fitness, but what are the rules in Hong Kong?
This week, Kwiksure examines the rules of certifying a vehicle roadworthy for Hong Kong drivers and how this might affect your insurance.
Laws of car maintenance in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, the requirement to have your car tested for roadworthiness is very much tied to your licensing fee. When renewing your vehicle license, all private cars aged 6 years or more are required to have an annual vehicle examination completed and must provide a Certificate of Roadworthiness. Without it, drivers will find their application for a license renewal declined. The Transport Department has a list of designated car testing centres around greater Hong Kong.
What can you expect from a car testing centre? Expert mechanics will put your vehicle through a general car safety check and test its level of emissions. This includes:
- Tyres and wheels
- Fuel system
If your vehicle passes, you’ll be issued a Certificate of Roadworthiness that’s valid for one year. If you fail, a Vehicle Repair Order will be issued and an appointment to retest the vehicle within 14 days will be made. Testing centres can waive a re-examination fee at their own discretion. Otherwise drivers are expected to pay again once repairs have been completed.
What if my vehicle has modifications?
We’ve written about modifying your vehicle before, and provided information and links to what mods the Transport Department deem to be legal and illegal. Generally, anything that changes noise emissions, increases the engine power, or makes the car potentially more unsafe is not permitted in Hong Kong. This includes aftermarket exhausts that are larger and make your vehicle louder. For this reason, you’ll be hard pressed to find a vehicle with Fast & the Furious-like mods in Hong Kong.
There are some drivers, however, who still choose to install modifications in their cars. The risk you run with this is that visible and immediately obvious changes can draw police attention, or you may find your vehicle destined to fail it’s testing check for a Certificate of Roadworthiness. Some modifications can cause greater wear and tear on your vehicle too, meaning you might see Vehicle Repair Orders mandating some car maintenance work at licensing time.
How might a poorly maintained car or failed vehicle test affect my insurance?
The insurance issue is twofold considering the two points we’ve discussed above. Firstly, insurers will have the right to deny you coverage if you make a claim whilst driving a vehicle without having renewed your license. Because a Certificate of Roadworthiness is a required part of the renewal process, you can expect that being lax on car maintenance will indirectly affect your ability to make claims on your car insurance when you need to.
Installing illegal modifications is also another way to void your insurance as companies will flat out deny coverage if your car is found with non-approved parts installed. Insurers will usually ask for a list of modifications made to your vehicle, as well as any parts added, before you secure your car insurance policy. We’ve known insurers to assess coverage right down to a part-by-part basis, meaning that companies will assess the risk your car changes can bring, and may deny claims related to certain mods.
How can I take the best care of my vehicle?
Each car will come with an Owner’s Manual, so your first best start is to read it. It comes with a wealth of knowledge about using your car and keeping it maintained. Get familiar with your car in its best condition, then regularly inspect the vehicle yourself to see if you notice any differences in it. Pay attention to how it drives too, as you might notice a drift in the car driving straight or hear a strange noise when the engine turns over.
Learn to do basic things such as checking your vehicle fluids. Check the oil weekly, and keep an eye on your anti-freeze, power steering, coolant, and wiper fluids. If you’re ever unsure on how to check these, consult your Owner’s Manual. Never, ever ignore a leak. If there’s anything ever amiss with your vehicle and it’s not something you can easily address yourself, book an appointment with your local mechanic and get it checked out properly.
The good thing about Hong Kong’s car maintenance laws is that, if you have a vehicle older than 6 years, having vehicles checked annually is legally required. While it might seem a costly and time consuming task to some drivers, it does mean that you can expect that nearly all of the cars around you on Hong Kong roads should be roadworthy. It also means that problems and repairs can be identified and addressed, rather than leaving them to deteriorate the car’s condition further.
Getting car insurance coverage in Hong Kong
Good car maintenance is one part of staying safe and legal on Hong Kong roads. Securing adequate insurance coverage is another. The laws make it mandatory for drivers to hold third-party car insurance in order to drive legally, so why not use the best car insurance broker in the country? Kwiksure has a team of dedicated staff that know what it is to be a driver in Hong Kong and can help you find the right insurance for your situation.
For a free quote or some friendly advice, contact the team at Kwiksure today!