You’ve got a new set of wheels and you’re ready to hit the road – but do you know if your car is fit to be on the road? A roadworthy car is one that’s in acceptable operating condition, to allow for safe driving or transport. Driving an unroadworthy car is illegal – not to mention dangerous. So, how can you tell if your car is roadworthy?

Here are the basic criteria for roadworthiness in South Africa:


A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique code used by the automotive industry to identify vehicles.

  • The engine number and VIN must match those on the registration document.
  • There should be no signs of tampering on any of the vehicle identifiers.
  • If the engine has been changed, all associated requirements (such as police clearance) must be in place, and logged on eNaTIS).


  • The car body and chassis must be free of rust or damage.
  • The body must be free of damage that could cause injury to pedestrians or cyclists.
  • All doors must be easy to open from the inside and outside.
  • All doors must be firmly attached at the hinges.
  • Interior door panels must be in place and in good condition.


  • The odometer and speedometer must be in working order.
  • All seatbelts must be in working order.
  • The hooter must be in working order.
  • Seats must be secure and free of damage.


  • All lights and indicators must be in good working order.
  • All lights must be securely fitted, with no ingress of water.
  • Both low and high beam functions must be tested, as well as the level of the beams.

Windscreen & Windows

  • The windscreen must be free of cracks.
  • All windows designed to open must be able to open and close.
  • Windscreen wipers must be operational and in good condition (i.e. blades not worn).

Wheels, Tyres & Brakes

  • Tyres and wheels must be the correct size.
  • Tyres and wheels must fall within manufacturer specifications.
  • All tyres (including the spare tyre) must have a tread of at least 1.6mm deep.
  • Wheel bearings must run smoothly.
  • Brakes on all wheels must be in good working order.
  • Parking brake must be in good working order.
  • Brake discs must be in good working order, and should not be grooved or concave.
  • There should be no leaks from the hydraulic system.


  • Shock absorbers must be in good working order, with no leaks.
  • Kingpins, control arms and anti-roll bars must be secure.
  • Chassis must not show any signs of weakness or damage.
  • Undercarriage must be free of rust and leaks.
  • The steering system must be in good working order.
  • Wheel alignment must be within specification.

Engine & Transmission

  • The engine compartment should be free from damage and leaks.
  • Engine and transmission mountings must be intact.
  • The battery should be secured with the required number of clamps.
  • The battery should be clean, and free of cracks or leaks.
  • No loose or damaged wiring.
  • Exhaust mountings must be secure.
  • No excessive smoke from the exhaust.
  • Transmission must be in good working order.

All new and used cars sold in South Africa require a roadworthy certificate. A roadworthiness test at an accredited roadworthy centre like AVTS takes about an hour, and will cost just around R500. However, even if you’re not planning to sell your car, it’s important to make sure it is roadworthy and safe to drive. Many testing centres also offer vehicle inspections, so you can check up on the condition of your car, or enjoy better peace of mind before taking a long trip.

Make sure you’re driving a roadworthy car, and help to reduce the number of unsafe vehicles on South African roads today.