Every car owner must have experience in car examinations. Whether you are buying a new or used car, you must know that all cars that have been licensed for 6 years must be examined once a year, and car owners can only apply for a car licence renewal after passing the examination, while a copy of the valid car insurance policy/cover note is needed to apply for a car licence renewal. Also, sending a car for “underbody inspection” (where the mechanic places the car up on a lift for a detailed inspection) is a common practice. Second-hand car buyers may be full of questions about the examination process and the documents required. MoneyHero is here to explain the examination process and things you need to pay attention to so that you may handle the tedious process of car examination and car licence renewal easily.
Car Examination for Licence Renewal
Cars licenced for less than 6 years are not required to undergo an annual vehicle examination. However, all private cars and light goods vehicles (LGV) weighing not more than 1.9 tonnes that have been licenced for over 6 years must do so before renewing the car licence. Car owners do not need to wait for the licence to expire; instead, they can apply for the renewal 4 months before it expires.
Tips: Car owners should renew their licence within 4 months before the expiry date of the current licence as driving a car with an expired licence is against the law and will be fined. An additional fee will apply to the unlicensed period if the licence is renewed after the expiry date.
Car Examination Price and Fee
The Government charges a flat rate for private cars and LGV, and the price for an initial examination is higher than a re-check. However, the re-check rate is only applicable to the cars that have failed in their initial examination within the last 14 days; otherwise, the price will be readjusted to the initial examination rate. Following is the Government's annual vehicle examination price list.
Examination Fees for Examinations at Designated Car and LGV Testing Centres
|LGV (not exceeding 1.9 tonnes gross vehicle weight)
|Private car re-check (within 14 calendar days of initial examination)
|LGV re-check (within 14 calendar days of initial examination)
Documents Required for Car Examination
- Vehicle examination appointment letter
- Vehicle registration document (original or certified copy)
- Driving licence
Car Examination Process
You need to pay for every examination and every re-check. If you want to save some money, you may find a garage that you frequent to examine the car first. Most garages advertise a “one-stop examination, guarantee to pass”. Indeed, as the garage mechanics are experienced, examining a car is just a routine task. Besides, they may have a connection with the examiner, making it usually easier to pass the examination than driving the car yourself to the centre for the examination.
However, you get what you pay for. Having a garage to examine your car means paying extra, and the price can vary significantly among different garages. In general, the private car annual examination fee (including Government vehicle examination centre fees) is around HK$1,000-HK$2,000. For LGV, it is even exceeding HK$2,000, which is double or triple of a private car examination, and does not include the cost of repair/replacement items. Car owners should evaluate the time spent on examination, the time and cost spent on the garage examination, and the risk of failing the examination. If you are a first-time car owner or not confident of passing the test, it is generally advisable to have the car examined by a garage. ***
To avoid someone rip you off, you must first aware what are the items included in the vehicle examination. The annual car examination has four stages, and the following are the items included in each stage:
|Car identification, speedometer, horn, interior controls, windshield wipers, windows, car body (including interior fittings and seats), seat belts, tires, wheels, and smoke emissions.
|Chassis frame, braking systems, steering systems, front and rear suspension, transmission system, exhaust system, fuel lines and tanks, and underbody condition.
|All lights on the vehicle, including stop lights, reflectors, turn signals, headlights and brake lights.
|Parking and foot brakes
Passing Car Examination
Although it seems like there are a lot of items to examine, it generally only takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete. After passing the examination, a Certificate of Fitness/Certificate of Roadworthiness will be issued to the car owner. The car owner can then renew the car licence at the Transport Department together with the required documents and fees.
What if My Car Fails the Examination? Re-check!
If a car fails an examination, the car owner must make an appointment for a re-check and pay the fee within 14 days (including Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays). The vehicle examination centre (or the garage) will issue a report pointing out why the car fails the test. Car owners can now leave the car for the garage to repair and replace the items needed. Experienced car owners may purchase the parts and repair themselves to save the garage costs, but they have to bear the risk of having their car fail the examination again.
Addresses of Government Vehicle Examination Centres
There are car examination centres in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. For exact addresses, please refer to the list of vehicle examination centres provided by the Transport Department.
Options Other than Annual Examination
Apart from annual examinations, car owners usually send the target car (new or used) to a garage for “underbody examination” (where the mechanic places the car up on a lift) for a detailed inspection, before transferring ownership. This is to avoid any problem with the car and end up buying a wrong one. Most of the garages offer “underbody examination” at a cost range from HK$700-HK$1,000.
However, some buyers might worry that the seller will find a garage that the seller frequents to examine the car, which might try to hide the extent of damage to the car or rollback the event data recorder to reset the used mileage to mislead the buyer that the car is not so worn out/the damages are not that significant. This is why some buyers will seek third party examination services. Some of the well-known third party car examination centres are as follows:
|Third Party Car Examination Centres
|Hong Kong Motor Inspection (HKMI)
|Provides on-site examination services and explains the examination report to the buyer.
|International Pro Motor-verify Centre (IPMC)
|Provides on-site examination services, explains examination report to the buyer, plus provides computerised car testing.
|Car examination: HK$1,300 Computerised car test HK$500
|Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA)
|Provides car examination services, road test and car examination report, but car owners need to drive their cars to the association in person.
Get Quotes Online, Simple and Secure
When buying a car, many people would appoint a car dealership or agent to handle their car insurance for convenience purposes. However, to clearly understand the protections, it is strongly recommended that car owners/car-owners-to-be compare and select the appropriate car insurance by themselves. MoneyHero offers instant online car insurance quotes. All you need to do is enter your basic information to get instant premium quotes for most car models. It is very simple and convenient!