Aside from the driver’s licence and vehicle rego, there are other documentations that you need to adhere to in Australia. As can be expected about transport and motoring regulations in the country, they slightly vary by state and territory.
One of these documentations in the roadworthy certificate, also called safety certificate.
What Is a Roadworthy Certificate?
A roadworthy certificate shows proof that your car is safe to be driven on public roads. It is issued by a licensed vehicle tester, aka authorised roadworthiness inspector, approved inspections stations (AIS), or authorised vehicle inspector after your vehicle passes inspection.
When Do You Need to Get a Roadworthy Certificate?
An RWC will be needed in the following situations:
- When you’re buying or selling a car
- When you’re transferring the ownership of car
- When you want to remove a Defect Notice (or yellow sticker/work order)
- When you’re registering a car registered from another state
- When you’re registering an unregistered vehicle
Please note that the states/territories vary in the purposes for obtaining an RWC. In WA, for instance, they don’t require it when you sell or buy a car but require it annually for rego renewal for some vehicles.
What Is Inspected in a Roadworthy Test?
The inspector will check both the car's exterior and interior parts, especially those that are not immediately visible, such as the brakes.
Interior Parts Inspected:
The engine oil - Car inspectors usually check the condition of the engine oil and the record of oil change. They’ll want to know whether the car uses the recommended engine oil, has the right amount of oil, and whether the oil is changed on time.
The brakes - Brakes will never escape inspection. You should replace the worn-out brake pads/drums and top up the brake fluid. If your brake fluid requires frequent refilling, have the brakes checked for leaks. Listen for squealing sounds and notice brakes that are not effectively working when engaged.
The suspensions - The inspection team will see to it that the vehicle has the recommended suspensions and there are no visible damage or abnormality. Consult the owner's manual for the proper maintenance of the suspensions and replace any faulty components.
The steering - Make sure that you use the recommended steering fluid, and the right quantity is maintained. In case you notice any issue with your car steering, book an appointment with an authorised car steering expert for a check-up before going for inspection.
The speed governors - Some vehicles are required to have speed governors to regulate their speed. If you have such a car, you must equip it with the recommended speed governor and make sure that it works correctly. The car safety inspectors will not leave out the speed governor if your car is supposed to have one.
Gas inspection for natural gas and propane vehicles - In the ACT and a few other states, they have regulations requiring natural gas and propane-powered vehicles to undergo annual gas inspection. The inspectors will check on whether the gas storage is in good condition, or the container has expired or has leaks.
Seat belts – Are your vehicle seats well-fixed with working seatbelts? They should be. Your vehicle should always have the recommended numbers of seats, which should be in good condition with functioning seatbelts.
Horn - The vehicle horn, though it may seem trivial, will also be checked. Reg 34 of Australian Vehicle Standard Rules requires every car in Australia to have at least one horn or any other device sufficient to give a hoot/audible warning to other road users.
Outer Parts Inspected:
Tyres – Governments regulate the standards of tyres sold within their jurisdiction to ensure that they are suitable to the local roads. It is for this reason that all international car tyre manufacturers mark their tyres with codes to indicate the country that has tested and approved their product. To avoid conflict with regulatory bodies, only buy tyres approved in Australia.
With usage, tyres wear out. Worn-out tyres have less traction and easily slip and skid. So aside from checking if you have the right tyres, you should also closely monitor the condition of your tyres. Tyres have tread wear indicators, which are check bars indicating how much the tyre has been worn-out.
The inspectors will also check if the car tyres:
- have any deep cut
- are wearing-out evenly; uneven wearing-out is an indication of possible wheel misalignment or suspension problems
- tread patterns are original - the tyres should not have been re-grooved
- are balanced - unbalanced tyres cause the steering wheel to vibrate
- have the right size of rims; and the rims are in good condition - the rims shouldn’t be bent, broken or have any crack
- have the correct tyre pressure - the wheel should have the manufacturer-recommended tyre pressure
To get the roadworthy certificate, make sure that your vehicle tyres are in good condition and, if necessary, replace the tyres with new ones before going for an inspection.
Windscreen - For the driver to have an unobstructed view, the windshield of a vehicle must be kept clean and clear. For your windscreen to pass the inspection, it must:
- have no damage or crack - a windshield that has a bullseye, star fracture, or crack reduces the driver's vision. Such a windscreen should be fixed or replaced entirely by a professional before taking the vehicle for inspection.
- have all the windscreen wipers designed for it, and they must be fully operational. The wiper's blade rubber should be in good condition.
- have all the windscreen washers, and all must function as intended, correctly aimed at the windscreen, with windscreen demister/defoggers/defrosters, if applicable.
Side mirrors & rearview mirror - Inspectors will most certainly check on these, so your mirrors should be clean, clear, adjustable and without any damage when going for an inspection.
Lighting – The headlights, the taillights, indicators, reverse light, and the hazard lights should all be fully functioning without any fault. For example, the high-beam lights should be dimmable, and the braking lights should respond immediately when the brakes are engaged.
Life Saver, first aid box & fire extinguisher - A Life Saver, an equipped first aid box, and a fire extinguisher are must-have equipment in your vehicle.
The overall condition of your vehicle - Your vehicle's overall condition, including the body and paintwork, also contributed to the overall score during the inspection. Make sure that your car has a well-painted body with no dents, cracks, or broken parts.
To have your vehicle certified as safety-compliant, maintain it in good shape, ensuring all the parts are fully functional as intended. Repair any malfunctioning parts and replace the parts that are irreparable or worn out beyond repair. Hopefully, this comprehensive checklist helps your vehicle pass inspection.
What Is the Cost of Roadworthy Certificates in the Different States & Territories?
The fees and purposes for which roadworthy inspections and certificates are required vary from one state/territory to another, and the fees imposed are different, too. Below are the fees that apply to most passenger vehicle types. We’ve provided links, too, if you want to check for more details:
QLD Roadworthy Certificate - $87.65 for motor vehicles with gross vehicle mass (GVM) up to 4,500kg
NSW Roadworthy Certificate - $42 (pink slip for safety check for renewing rego) & $67 (blue slip for safety & ID check if not registered or rego has expired/been cancelled) for light vehicles
VIC Roadworthy Certificate - ask for a quote from a licensed vehicle tester
WA Roadworthy Certificate - $162.30 for light vehicles less than 4,500kg (for initial inspection), $105.00 (reinspection fee); all rates are for metropolitan areas only, regional locations have different rates; roadworthy inspection is not required for selling/buying a vehicle
SA Roadworthy Certificate - $267 for most vehicle types
TAS Roadworthy Certificate - ask for a quote from an approved inspection station (AIS); RWC is needed for registration/renewal but not when selling/buying a car
ACT Roadworthy Certificate - $74.70 for light vehicles
NT Roadworthy Certificate - $58.30 for light vehicles (not exceeding 4,500 kg GVM); fee is added to Rego fees
- https://nt.gov.au/driving/rego/vehicle-inspections/check-if-your-vehicle-needs-an-inspection - https://nt.gov.au/driving/rego/fees/registration-fees#vehicle_inspection
Each state/territory has its own inspection and RWC regulations. For instance, in the ACT, the inspection is random, while in NSW, the e-Safety Check is annual. In the NT, the state requires roadworthy inspection of vehicles every 5 years, then annually for cars more than 10 years old.
Diverse though these policies are, they have one thing in common, to regulate vehicles running on roads and ensure they’re safe for all road users.
We hope you found this reference useful – you’ll find more from our blog!