Car Roadworthy Certificate: What is It and How to Get One?

April 14, 2023

Are you considering buying or selling a vehicle in Australia? Do you want to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive? If so, then you need to obtain a roadworthy certificate.

Obtaining a car-roadworthy certificate in Australia can be challenging if you are a new car owner. This blog post provides detailed information and steps to complete the requirements and checklist to get your vehicle certified roadworthy. So, let’s get started!


What Is a Car Roadworthy Certificate?

A roadworthy certificate is a document issued by an approved inspection station. It can be obtained digitally or as a written copy. It certifies vehicles are safe to drive on roads in Queensland and guarantees drivers’ safety as they meet the standard requirements. Only licensed vehicle testers can issue these certificates.

The Certificate of Roadworthiness is mandatory in Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. This certificate is required at the time of sale to prove that the vehicle has passed the safety standards. Without this document, any sales transaction involving a registered vehicle will not be legally binding.


Why Is a Roadworthy Certificate Important?

Before driving in Queensland, a Car Roadworthy Safety certificate is required. The certificate must also be present before engaging in any of the following:

1. Transferring a Registration to Another State or a New Owner

It is mandatory to obtain a roadworthy certificate before transferring ownership of your vehicle’s registration to another person. This is done when an automobile is sold to a new owner who wishes to register it under their name.

By law, you must obtain a roadworthy certificate when transferring the car’s registration to another person. This usually happens when the vehicle changes ownership; for example, you sold your car or gave it to a friend.

However, some exemptions apply. A Roadworthy Certificate is not needed when:

  • Transferring ownership to a spouse or domestic partner
  • Transferring ownership to a licensed car dealer
  • The car has been unregistered and is not being used on public roads

2. Selling a Registered Light Vehicle

In Queensland, cars are by no means the only vehicle requiring regular safety inspections. Motorbikes, trucks, and buses must verify their conditions to ensure they meet the necessary safety standards.

Certain requirements must be met to obtain a motorcycle or trailer roadworthy certificate. Specifically, such certificates are necessary if the aggregate caravan or trailer mass is between 750 and 4,500 kg.

Trucks, primer movers, and tippers with a gross vehicle mass of more than 4500 kg are considered heavy vehicles. These vehicles need a yearly QLD Inspection Certificate or Heavy Vehicle Certificate of Inspection by a Queensland Transport approved examiner.

3. Re-registering an Unregistered Vehicle in Queensland

You must renew your registration yearly to legally drive your vehicle. If you have an unregistered car or other motor vehicles, you should obtain a roadworthy certificate before re-registering. Failure to do this can result in significant fines or even the confiscation of your vehicle.

How To Get a Roadworthy Certificate?

The Certificate of Roadworthiness document shows a vehicle has been inspected and met safety requirements to be roadworthy. This is issued by licensed vehicle testers at approved garages or inspection stations.

The vehicle must pass a thorough examination to qualify for the certificate. The full inspection includes all components of the car’s safe operation on public roads.

The Roadworthy Certificate is mandatory for all vehicles registered in Victoria. Without one, no vehicle can legally be driven on public roads. If you need a roadworthy tester, VicRoads can assist you.

Ensuring that the tester you select is authorised and certified by VicRoads before having your vehicle inspected is important. You can visit one of their offices throughout the state or check their website to find an authorised tester nearby. You can easily recognise an accredited tester by the VicRoads plaque displayed outside the workshop.

The next step is to bring and present the following documents:

  • Your vehicle’s registration papers
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of identity (e.g., driver’s license or passport,)
  • A valid Safety Certificate for the vehicle, which a qualified certifier has completed
  • Proof that you are the car owner
  • All keys for the vehicle, including spare keys, if available
  • Relevant maintenance records, such as oil changes and brake pad replacements (Optional)

Preparing these documents will ensure a smooth process when applying for the certificate. The assessment usually takes around two hours to complete.

Although the car assessment for obtaining a Roadworthy Certificate is relatively straightforward, passing the inspection can be extremely challenging. The process requires an in-depth examination of specific components of a vehicle, such as brakes, tyres, and suspension systems. Any faults found must be rectified before passing, making the evaluation process difficult.

You will receive a roadworthy certificate electronically if your vehicle passes the inspection. If your vehicle fails the assessment, you have a certain period to do necessary repairs before re-inspection.

The period length is determined by the laws and regulations in your state or territory. For instance, the registration may be suspended if the items on a Defect Notice haven’t been fixed within 28 days.

Checklist for Roadworthy Inspection

A roadworthy inspection is a comprehensive assessment of the major safety-related components of your vehicle. The essential elements are included in the list below. However, note that different jurisdictions may tend to inspect different items. They may prioritize different parts and components from one vehicle to another.

#1. Engine and Transmission Oil Leaks

Engine and transmission oil leaks substantially contribute to certification failure, posing safety risks and costly damages that may degrade the vehicle. These leaks can compromise the car’s structural integrity, resulting in expensive repairs that must be addressed before getting a certification.

#2. Seats and Seat Belts

Seatbelts must be in a usable condition, without any obstructions or damage. These should be properly installed and structurally sound. The driver’s seat should be secured and firmly attached to the vehicle. All seats must be fastened and free from sharp edges to provide maximum safety protection for passengers.

#3. Exhaust and Emission Controls

The car’s exhaust system must not be routed through the passenger area or any other indoor space. It must be sealed without leaks. Additionally, all mountings and connections must be firmly secured so they will unlikely loosen up over time.

#4. Light, Signals, and Reflectors

A comprehensive checklist for a roadworthy inspection should include checking all lights and reflectors, including:

  • Headlights
  • Brake lights
  • Front and rear position lights
  • Indicators/turn signals
  • Rear fog lights

Vehicles must have functional turn signal lamps, such as indicators or blinkers. They should have plate light/s free from scratches and other damages that may affect the light passing through them.

A dirty lens can cause distortion and reduce the amount of light passing through it. So, maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is important to ensure maximum lighting and clarity.

#5. Steering, Suspension, and Braking Systems

Your braking system must be at its peak performance to pass certification. If the brakes are not functioning properly, the vehicle will fail inspection. So, you should thoroughly examine and test the handbrake, as they are a common cause of failure during the inspection.

The handbrake should be able to securely and firmly hold the vehicle in place on an uphill incline to pass. This position is essential for ensuring no movement occurs when releasing the brakes.

#6. Wheels and Tyres

To ensure your tyres are in the best condition, keep them adequately inflated, without sharp objects protruding. The wheel tread depth should be at least 1.5 mm.

#7. Modifications

Modifications are applied to vehicles for various reasons, including performance enhancements and aesthetic alterations. Anyone modifying their vehicle must consult with the Department of Transport to ensure their changes comply with safety regulations and standards.

Applying enhancements to your vehicle without the proper authorisation may affect your certification results. It is important to check the Queensland Transport website for further details to avoid penalties and legal repercussions.

#8. Chassis and Vehicle Body

Before conducting a roadworthy inspection, you should assess your vehicle’s chassis and body. This means ensuring no conditions could lead to structural failure and issues that may negatively impact the vehicle’s safe operation. The floor should also be free from obstructions that may limit your space for driving.

All latch mechanisms must work properly, including doors, boots, lids on utes, bonnets, hatches, and tailgates. Vehicles with a tray-type body must be equipped with appropriate mudflaps for adequate protection. These mudflaps prevent dirt, dust, rocks, and other debris from being thrown onto the back of the car.

#9. Battery

Before taking your vehicle for a roadworthy inspection, it is important to do a battery test to check the battery’s health. This can help you detect potential issues and ensure it has enough power to support the car’s electrical functions. This simple step can save you time from jumpstarting your car and money from car services before any problems arise.


What If My Vehicle Fails the Certificate of Roadworthiness?

If a vehicle fails the roadworthy test, take action within the agreed period to avoid additional costs and delays. The state in full authority to revoke your vehicle’s partial roadworthy certificate if you don’t finish it on time. This implies you must undergo another inspection and pay the fee again.

How Much Is the Cost of a Roadworthiness Certificate?

The total cost of an inspection varies. These factors can significantly influence how much you pay for your roadworthy certificate:

  • Vehicle size
  • Vehicle model
  • Vehicle ages (especially if defects or malfunctions are identified during the examination process)

The approximate cost of a roadworthy certificate in Queensland generally falls between $90 and $100.

How Long Does the Certificate of Roadworthiness Remain Current and Valid?

A roadworthy certificate is valid for thirty days from its issuance. So, you must present it as soon as possible to VicRoads to transfer or re-register a vehicle. This means that, within this period, the roadworthy is considered up-to-date and current.

If the transaction is completed within 30 days, a roadworthy certificate can be used several times for registration and transfer operations. This, however, does not guarantee that certified vehicles are safe to drive 30 days after the certificate is issued.

The reason is that while it may have passed the inspection, it could still be subject to wear and tear over time. This could lead to issues that need repairs or replacements of components to maintain roadworthiness.

What Aren’t Included in the Roadworthiness Test?

The roadworthiness test does not check the vehicle’s mechanical reliability or general condition. Also, a Certificate of Roadworthiness does not assure the following:

  • The vehicle is in top condition without defects, wears, and tears
  • The working condition of non-safety related accessories, including rear window demister, rear-window wipers, and electric windows
  • The vehicle complies with the Australian Design Rules, a set of national standards for vehicle safety, emissions, and anti-theft
  • The parts and components that passed the roadworthy inspection will continue functioning perfectly after the inspection. For example, brake lights may stop working any time after the inspection.

If your vehicle needs a comprehensive check, arrange for a separate independent report from RACV, Licensed Motor Car Traders (LMCTs), and other workshops.

Put Your Safety First with a Roadworthiness Certificate

A roadworthy car certificate is a vital document that guarantees the security of drivers, passengers, and other motorists on the road. It is a requirement under Australian law and needed when trading, registering, or undertaking significant repairs to a vehicle. This certificate confirms that the vehicle is in safe working order and ready to be driven safely on public roads.

Obtaining a safety certificate for a car entails an in-depth examination by a qualified and accredited mechanic or inspector. Although specifications may slightly differ between states, the certificate’s objective is to guarantee that all cars abide by safety regulations.

So, it’s highly recommended to research the specific requirements depending on your state or territory. You may also consult with an authorized test station or vehicle examiner before pushing through with the inspection.

When it comes to choosing a car, you’re spoilt for choice. Mad Man Motors has many esteemed vehicles worthy of a certificate. We have a wide range of models for all budgets and requirements. Contact us today to know more!

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