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Fleet Intuition

Be careful – Your vehicle must be roadworthy to enjoy insurance

Posted by Willers Baard on 2021/01/27 11:50 AM

Be careful – Your vehicle must be roadworthy to enjoy insurance_Featured blog image

Driving a roadworthy car is a legal requirement in South Africa however 80% of cars surveyed are deemed unroadworthy and unfit to operate according to the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 [No. 93 of 1996].

It is a legal requirement that every car on South African roads must be in a roadworthy condition. All buses, taxis and trucks must undergo a stringent roadworthy test annually and the owners will not be able to renew their licences without presenting a valid roadworthy certificate (RoadCover, 2011).

 When vehicles change ownership you also need to present a roadworthy certificate before the vehicle can be registered in your name. Usually, the dealership selling you the vehicle will deal with the roadworthy on your behalf, but if it is a private sale the onus will be on the buyer to arrange for a roadworthy. Unfortunately, passenger type vehicles are currently only tested when a change of ownership occurs. After that, a vehicle could be driven for many years without any further tests being conducted, and without knowing whether the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition measured against fixed standards.

Roadworthiness is a pre-requisite of taking out car insurance. If you read your motor insurance policy wording, you will notice that your insurer clearly states that they are not obligated to meet any of your insurance claims should it be found that your vehicle was not roadworthy at the time of an accident/ incident and that the un-roadworthiness status could have been a contributing factor or was the cause of the accident.

During a test carried out by the National Vehicle Testing Association on more than 1 000 cars in KZN and the Western Cape it was found that up to 80% of the vehicles on South African roads were not in a roadworthy condition. This figure includes passenger vehicles, busses, taxis, trucks and motorcycles.

Here are a few pointers to follow to ensure that your vehicle is deemed roadworthy:

  • The engine and VIN numbers must match those on the registration document.
  • There must be no sign of tampering with the engine and VIN numbers.
  • The body or chassis must be free of damage and rust. Only a vehicle examiner can determine to which extent such damage or rust is acceptable.
  • All doors must be firmly attached at the hinges and easy to open,
  • The speedometer and odometer must be in working order.
  • All seatbelts, all lights and indicators must be in working order.
  • The car’s windscreen must be free of damage, and the driver’s view unobstructed.
  • Any windows that are designed to open and close must do so easily.
  • Windscreen wipers must be in working condition, and the rubber blades must be undamaged
  • Wheels and tyres must be the correct size and all wheel nuts must be fitted and tight.
  • Headlights should be free of any cracks.
  • Tyres should have a tread depth of at least 1,6mm.
  • Brakes should be in good working condition.
  • There should be no leaks from the hydraulic system.
  • Shock absorbers should be in good working condition.
  • Wheels must be properly aligned.
  • The steering system must be fully operational.
  • The engine compartment must be free of damage or leaks.
  • The battery must be properly secured.
  • The transmission must be in good working order.
  • There should be no excessive smoke or noise coming from the exhaust.

The National Road Traffic Act, 1996 [No. 93 of 1996] – states that:

"roadworthy", in relation to a vehicle, means a vehicle that complies with the relevant provisions of this Act and is otherwise in a fit condition to be operated on a public road.

Roadworthy certificate required in respect of motor vehicle -

  1. (1) No person shall operate a motor vehicle that is not in a roadworthy condition on a public road.

(2) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a public road unless the requirements in respect of roadworthiness certification contemplated in subsection (3) in relation to such motor vehicle are complied with, and except in accordance with the conditions of a roadworthy certificate.

(3) Subject to this Chapter -

(a) the categories of roadworthy certificates;

(b) the classes in which motor vehicles are classified for the purposes of prescribing the requirements regarding roadworthiness and the requirements for roadworthiness certification applicable to each class of motor vehicle;

(c) the period of validity of roadworthy certificates; (d) the examination of motor vehicles;

(e) the issue of roadworthy certificates; and any other aspect regarding roadworthy certificates which the Minister may deem necessary or expedient, shall be as prescribed.

(4) Any document issued by a competent authority in a prescribed territory and serving a similar purpose to that of a roadworthy certificate shall, in accordance with the conditions thereof but subject to this Act, be deemed to be a roadworthy certificate for the purposes of subsection (2).

Application for roadworthy certificate -

  1. Any person desiring to obtain a roadworthy certificate shall apply in the prescribed manner to an appropriately graded testing station.

Notice to discontinue operation of motor vehicle -

  1. If a motor vehicle is not roadworthy a traffic officer or an examiner of vehicles may, by notice in the prescribed form served on the driver, owner or operator of such vehicle, direct that such vehicle shall not be operated on a public road or that such vehicle shall only be operated on the prescribed conditions.

Please visit the link below for a full copy of the National Road Traffic Act, 1996 [No. 93 of 1996]


Whether you are part of the insuring or non-insuring public you have a responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy. If you have a vehicle insurance policy, you have an added responsibility to ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy as it is one of the conditions that you need to comply with to enjoy the cover offered by the policy.

So, be careful out there. Taking out an insurance policy ad to your responsibility.

Drive carefully and safely and be prepared.

Topics: Fleet Safety, Fleet Management, Legislation, Fleet Insurance