The Car Guide: How to know if your car is roadworthy


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The Car Guide

Did you know that your car is required to have a roadworthy certificate? If you’re in the market for a new car or looking to sell your current vehicle, roadworthiness is a very important factor to consider. We’re taking a look at everything you need to know.

According to a 2018 study done by the Road Traffic Report Calendar, there are approximately…

625 828 unroadworthy motor vehicles on the roads in South Africa.

That’s A LOT. Not only is it illegal for your car to be unroadworthy but it is also irresponsible and unsafe. No one wants you to have an unsafe vehicle and it is your responsibility to ensure your car is safe for those around you. Not to mention that you have to prove your vehicle is roadworthy to your car insurer.

This little guide will ensure you are not the owner of an unroadworthy vehicle. Contrary to popular belief, you should make sure your car is ALWAYS roadworthy and not just when there’s a change of ownership and you require a valid roadworthy certificate. So let’s get into it!

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Vehicle roadworthy guide

Here’s everything you need  to know about getting your car’s roadworthy certificate!

How to get started

Do a little bit of research and make sure you find an accredited testing centre. 

A roadworthy test should last about an hour, including a short test drive and cost in the region of R500 - R600. If your vehicle passes, you are issued a certificate that is valid for 60 days, with the status stored on a database. Most testing centres offer inspections on your vehicle for peace of mind before embarking on a trip, or if your vehicle has not been tested for a number of years.

Your car must pass the following inspections and tests

1. Identification

The engine and VIN numbers must match those on the registration document. There must be no tampering of any vehicle identifiers. In the case of an engine change, all associated requirements must be in place and logged on the database, including police clearance and data dotting.

2. Body

There must be no damage or rust present that compromises the integrity of the body or chassis. There must be no damage that can cause an injury to pedestrians or cyclists. Doors open with ease from the inside and outside, and be firmly attached at the hinges.

3. Interior

The odometer and speedometer must be in working order. Seats must be secure without damage and all seatbelts must be present and operational.

4. Lights and safety

All lights and indicators must be in good working order. All lights should be securely fitted and have no water ingress. The low and high beam functionality is tested, as well as the level of the beams. Your car’s hooter must be operational.

5. Windows and windscreen

There should be no cracks on the windscreen. All windows designed to open should be able to open and close. Windscreen wipers should be in good order and operational (no one wants to be caught in a thunderstorm without windscreen wipers).

6. Wheels, tyres and brakes

Tyres and wheels must be the correct size and fall within manufacturer specifications. All tyres (including the spare tyre if applicable) must have a tread depth of at least 1,6 mm. Wheel bearings should run smoothly. Brakes on all of the wheels must be in good working order (as well as the parking brake). Brake discs should be in good condition and there should be no leaks from the hydraulic system.

7. Suspension

Shock absorbers should be in good working order with no leaks present. Kingpins, control arms and anti-roll bars should be secure. Steering system must be in great working condition and the  wheel alignment should be within specification.

8. Powertrain

The engine compartment should be free from damage and leak with the engine and transmission mountings intact. The battery should be secured and have no cracks or leaks. No loose or damaged wiring should be present. Your car’s exhaust would not emit excessive smoke and the  transmission should be in good working order.

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This all seems very straightforward but there are a number of cars on the road right now that wouldn’t come close to passing a roadworthy test and that scares us! Not only for your safety but for those around you, we recommend that you ensure any car you purchase or sell is roadworthy and if you’re planning on doing a long car trip, make sure to get your car checked out beforehand.

Safety first, always!


Yours in comprehensive car insurance,


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