Drivers in Hong Kong know – or at least they should know – that regular maintenance of their vehicle is important. Going by widely held manufacturer recommendations, car owners in the city should be changing their oil every 3,000-5,000 miles, their engine belts every 40,000-60,000 miles, and their tires every 70,000 miles or so (depending on the type). Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to car maintenance. The bottom line is that, in order to avoid any major repairs or catastrophic part failures, people in Hong Kong must be diligent when it comes to vehicle examinations.
While this is true in general for individual vehicle owners, the Hong Kong government also wants in on the action. To see for itself that vehicles in the city are safe and roadworthy, as well as to encourage drivers to mind the condition of their cars continuously, the Transport Department requires that cars must pass an annual exam to be operated legally. Here, Kwiksure examines the topic of vehicle examinations in Hong Kong and how it may relate to your car insurance.
Hong Kong requirements for vehicle examination
Yes, if you’re a vehicle owner in Hong Kong, you’re going to need to arrange for a yearly vehicle examination in order to operate it legally. A very important thing to note about this, however, is that annual vehicle examinations are only needed for vehicles that are older than six years of age. So, if you have a 2017 model car, you will not need to have it examined until the year 2023.
Procedures of vehicle examination
In order to get your vehicle officially examined, you will need to take it to one of Hong Kong’s Designated Car Testing Centres, which can be found all over Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. For the convenience of people that work during business hours, these centres even remain open in the evening and on public holidays that don’t fall on a Sunday.
Once you’ve made your appointment to have your car examined, don’t forget to have payment for the exam upon your arrival. Check with your particular Testing Centre for specifics on how much the examination will cost. Other documents you will need are your driver’s license and a certified copy of your Vehicle Registration Document. If you are aware of any damages or defects in your vehicle, it is wise to have it repaired before your examination. Examiners are quite thorough, so don’t anticipate that any problems will be missed or glossed over.
In the event that your vehicle fails the exam, you will be given a list detailing each specific defect that the examiner found. An appointment for re-examination can then be made within 14 days of a failed examination. A re-examination fee may be charged, except on items designated as “Defect will not be subject to re-examination fee” if the re-examination is within 14 days of the first exam.
Appeals of an examination failure can be carried out immediately with the tester or other responsible party at the centre. An application can be submitted for subsequent appeals.
What vehicle examinations look for
So now that we’ve covered the process and importance of your annual vehicle examination, let’s examine exactly what it is that the people performing your next one will be looking for. There are actually four stages to the examination process. Here is what each stage covers:
Stage 1: Vehicle identification, fire extinguisher, speedometer, horn, interior controls, windshield wipers, mirrors, windows, the body of the car (including interior fittings and seats), tires, wheels, and smoke emissions.
Stage 2: Inspection of chassis frame, braking systems, steering systems, front and rear suspension, transmission system, exhaust system, fuel lines and tanks (including fuel cut-off device), electrical wiring, and underbody condition.
Stage 3: All lights on the vehicle, including stop lights, reflectors, turn signals, headlights and brake lights.
Stage 4: Parking and foot brakes.
Clearly, there are many things you will need to make sure are in working condition on your vehicle before you take it for examination. It should be noted here that any modifications made to your vehicle should be removed before your annual examination, if possible. For more information on this, check out the Transport Department's Do's and Don'ts of Alteration and Modification or our article " Your guide to aftermarket vehicle modifications in Hong Kong".
Vehicle examinations and car insurance
You may ask, “Will my motor insurance cover the cost of a vehicle examination?” Unfortunately, the answer to this is, “No.” However, there is still a very important link between vehicle examinations and your car insurance. Namely, if you do not have an up to date Certificate of Roadworthiness, as issued by a Designated Cart Testing Centre, then claims made on your car insurance policy are much more likely to be denied.
For example, if you were to run into a stationary object that damages your car to the tune of $40,000 and you have a comprehensive car insurance plan that normally provides coverage for such damage (vis a vis third party car insurance), you are likely to make a claim on your policy. The insurer, in turn, examines your claim and supporting documentation. If they then find that the Certificate of Roadworthiness you submit is expired, your claim is denied and you will be left to pay for repairs to your car out of your own pocket. This is because the insurance company has the reasonable expectation that you will maintain your vehicle in compliance with Hong Kong law. If you fail to do so, then not only is there a chance that your accident was caused by some defect that would have been detected by a vehicle examination, but the insurer also knows that you have driven your vehicle illegally, which is a big no-no to insurance companies, to be sure.
If you have any questions about your own motor insurance policy as it relates to annual vehicle examinations, contact the helpful insurance advisers at Kwiksure. They will give you answers to all of your questions, and can provide you with free plan comparisons and price quotes to see if another motor insurance plan on the market may be more suitable for you that your existing policy.