Warrant of Fitness Checklist

New buyer? Young driver? Whether you are buying your first used car or gearing up for your first Warrant of Fitness (WoF), here’s what you need to know.
Published in:   Car

What is it?

The WoF is a safety test done on vehicles to check that they are roadworthy. It should be done every six months for cars made before 2000, or cars that are older than 10 years. For new cars, it needs to be done again after three years and then every 12 months.

The penalty for driving a vehicle without a current warrant of fitness is a fine.

In New Zealand it is illegal to sell a car without a current WoF, unless the buyer signs a statement that says they understand and accept that it's their responsibility to sort it out.

Here are some reasons cars fail:

  • Rust: Rust damage can be very expensive to repair, especially if it is widespread. When buying a car, remember to look for concealed and structural rust damage - start with the door hinges.
  • Lights: Broken headlights are an automatic fail. Ensure they are working properly; both at dipped and high beamed, and if they are cracked repair them as soon as possible. You also need to make sure your hazards, indicators and brake lights are all in working order.
  • Smoky exhaust: Keep an eye on your exhaust pipe; if black smoke is present, you may have a problem. It could be an oil leak into your engine or a clogged air filter. Whatever the issue, most cars will not pass a WoF with visible smoke coming out of the exhaust.
  • Tyres: Your tyres will be checked for tread, pressure and wear. You need to maintain your tyres at the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer, and the tread depth 1.5mm.
  • Seat belts: Are all the seat belts in working order? Can you make them click? Are there rips or tears in them?
  • Windshield and windscreen wipers: Your wipers and washers need to be working. Your windscreen can’t be leaking and letting in water.

What a WoF is not

A WoF is not a clean bill of health, so don’t assume just because a car has a WoF that there is nothing wrong with it. If you are buying a car privately consider getting a vehicle information report so you can have the most up to date information available.

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