Old vehicle issue can be satisfactorily resolved

A GROUP of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia researchers recently proposed to dispose of vehicles that are more than 10 years old to resolve road congestion, and Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong commented on this proposal.

But there was no report of any such proposal. Moreover, such a ridiculous solution could not have been made by academics of such a reputable public university.

The current government is bound to be defeated in the next general election if it implements this “proposal”.

The End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) policy and traffic congestion are two separate matters. Though it may be true that banning vehicles that are more than 10 years old from plying public roads may ease congestion as they make up 74% of the total vehicles in the country.

If so, motorcycles should also be banned or motorcyclists not allowed to carry pillion riders as up to 70% of road fatalities involve the group. But doing so will cause millions of people to be stranded and the economy, stopped.

Instead of exploring the ELV policy as a solution to cut down on congestion, Malaysia should instead focus on how to deal with vehicles that are more than 10 years old.

Just like other vehicles that are certified as roadworthy by Puspakom, these old vehicles, too, should be allowed on public roads.

Private vehicle inspections need not be as stringent as commercial vehicle inspections, as the latter carries heavy goods or fare-paying passengers and usually log higher mileage.

For example, a paint job is not important, but a rusted car is not acceptable – lest a door or mudguard suddenly break off and drop on the road.

A smoky exhaust gas should not be allowed. This may be caused by worn-out piston rings that can no longer scrape the cylinder walls clean of engine oil, resulting in the oil being burnt together with petrol. Diesel engines are smoky when the diesel is not completely burnt inside the cylinders.

To pass inspection, vehicle owners who modified or removed the silencer to get their exhaust pipe to produce a loud sound should reinstate the original part. Likewise, reverse lights cannot be modified to be switched on together with brake lights or made to flash, which can irritate other road users.

Cars fitted with non-factory-equipped Xenon headlights, known as high intensity discharge lamps, blinded many a motorist some years ago. And there were those fitted with underbody light kits. Fortunately, these cars are now a rare sight.

In any case, only white headlights and reverse lights (front), red reverse lights (rear) and yellow signal lights should be allowed. Owners of vehicles fitted with any other coloured lamps should be told to remove the lamps. Fog lights should always be covered and uncovered only when in an estate.

And the most important of all – brakes and tyres. Brakes should be tested and tyres should have enough tread count, with the sidewalls not cut or swollen. Tyres that are in good condition but have exceeded their expiry dates may still be used.

If mandatory private vehicle inspections are introduced, how regularly should they be conducted? All vehicles that are less than 20 years old should be exempted, while those above 20 should be inspected once a year before their road tax could be renewed.

As Puspakom is often congested with commercial vehicles, new concessionaires can be appointed for private vehicle inspection.

If the ELV policy is implemented it may mean wiping off more than RM100 billion in vehicle value. Introducing mandatory inspections for old vehicles will only encourage motorists to purchase and drive newer models without forgoing their old treasures.

But one thing is for certain – there will be fewer jalopies on the roads.

By then, old vehicle owners can either brace themselves to go through the hassle of annual inspections or switch to newer models. – June 23, 2022.

* Y.S. Chan reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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