In 2022 and 2023, New Zealand experienced unprecedented levels of rainfall, causing widespread flooding that left a trail of damaged vehicles in its wake, including motorcycles. As insurance companies deemed numerous vehicles irreparable due to extensive flood damage, a pressing need emerged for comprehensive repair processes to restore these motorbikes to roadworthy conditions. This article delves into the intricate and meticulous steps involved in resurrecting flood-damaged vehicles, shedding light on the protocols and procedures essential for their revival and eventual return to the road. There are many buyers who purchased flood-damaged vehicles from insurance auctions, Trademe and private sales. Often, sellers may indicate the vehicle is flood-damaged and written off by an insurance company but will try downplay the extent of the potential damage and work needed to get the vehicle back to a roadworthy state. This can lead uninformed buyers to purchase a vehicle they may believe is simple to make road legal via the NZTA compliance process, however, the truth is far more complicated – and expensive. Having seen many sellers try sell water-damaged vehicles on Trademe and Facebook Marketplace with no mention of the work required, I have decided to write this article to help any potential buyers of such vehicles.

You can also read more here by NZTA

In summary, nearly every critical component of a vehicle (car or motorbike) must be replaced either with a BRAND NEW GENUINE OEM component (i.e. dealership to supply) or with a component that is used but of known origin, storage and condition i.e. you need to know what vehicle it came off, the VIN, exactly where and how your sourced the part.

This may sound easy in theory, but when you consider sourcing a brand new OEM wiring loom, electronics (ABS, ESC, ECU) and brake components, you are looking at more than the original cost of the vehicle in most cases. The cost to get a water damaged vehicle road legal once again is just not viable.

If, however, the buyer was looking to buy a water damaged and written off motorcycle or car for off-road/track use, taking a gamble on one of these vehicles, depending on the depth of submersion, may not be a bad bet. Often, motorcycles can be fully submerged and brought back to life with some clever cleaning and restoration work. Motorcycles are designed to be used in heavy rain, parked outside and should be, in most cases, just fine. However, NZTA (rightfully) does not see this as a viable method to get a vehicle road legal!

If you want to know more about the re-registration process and why it may be the biggest headache in the world, read on…

As stated by NZTA in the Water Damaged Vehicle Repair Procedure

All vehicles affected by water damage must be treated as fully submerged by the Transport Agency, regardless of whether water has visibly entered the vehicle or not.

The comprehensive inspection process mandates the removal of the complete vehicle interior, including the Dash Assy and Hood lining, for thorough examination.

The repair protocol stipulates the replacement of all components listed in Table 9-1-1 . In Column 1, components must be substituted with new Original Equipment Manufacturer (O.E.M) parts, encompassing all Air Bags and Curtain Air Bags, with accompanying invoices required. In Column 2, the replacement of components with used parts is permissible, contingent upon the submission of relevant invoices. In Column 3, certain components may undergo stripping and servicing, with invoices also mandatory.

Adherence to addressing all components specified in Table 9-1-1 is mandatory, unless the vehicle is not equipped with the designated system.

The repair of brakes necessitates a comprehensive strip, with calipers stripped and removed for inspection. Additionally, the replacement of all fluids is mandatory.

Throughout the repair process, photographic evidence and invoices are required. Regular inspections by the Repair Certifier are integral to the procedure.

The Repair Certifier is obligated to retain documented proof of all replacement components.

It is crucial to carefully review Table 9-1-1, a copy of which is attached below for reference

If by some miracle the vehicle owner manages to source and replace all parts as stipulated by Table 9-1-1, the certification checks will entail the following:

Water Damage Repair Certification Guidelines (As of March 24, 2023)

Note: Information presented is accurate as of March 24, 2023, and may be subject to change.

Within the Vehicle Inspection Portal, under VIRMs > Light vehicle repair certification > General repairs > Water damage, the following criteria apply to the inspection and certification process for water-damaged vehicles.

Reasons for Rejection:

  1. A safety-related component, part, or system must be inspected and replaced as outlined in Table 9-1-1.
  2. Body panels should undergo thorough water contamination removal, with cavities treated to restore the vehicle’s corrosion protection.
  3. Failure to document evidence of water damage during vehicle inspection.
  4. Inadequate treatment of the vehicle as fully immersed in water contaminated with silt and/or corrosive salts.
  5. Presence of water contamination or residue on a body panel or structure.
  6. Corrosion protection must be restored to OE specifications.
  7. Non-compliance with the manufacturer’s repair procedures for replacement parts, components, or systems.
  8. Any item retained from Table 9-1-1’s far right-hand column must be certified within safe tolerance by the manufacturer or an approved agent.

Important Notes:

  • The repair certifier must retain documented proof of all replacement components within the vehicle file.
  • Components not designed for stripping must be replaced.
  • Retained components requiring inspection must be recorded by the repair certifier with the vehicle file.
  • If water damage is noted at any stage, and the vehicle is not recorded as such in Landata, the repair certifier must contact the Transport Agency.
  • A specialist repair certifier must submit an LT308 indicating water damage assessment adherence to the VIRM: Light vehicle repair certification. Files related to water damage assessments will be audited during normal performance reviews.
  • As per Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance 2002, water damage is defined as damage to a vehicle’s critical safety system resulting from exposure to water.

Table 9-1-1

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