AA advises on roadworthiness check

02 October 2014

AA stresses the importance of vehicle fitness

At least seven to ten percent of vehicle crashes are related to defective or unroadworthy vehicles. This was the word from the Automobile Association as it kicked off its Transport Month campaign urging motorists to ensure their vehicles are in a roadworthy condition. All vehicles should be able to pass the roadworthiness test, which is an investigation of basic mechanical safety requirements.

It ensures that the major suspension and driveline components are sound and that the vehicle is generally compliant with traffic law. A vehicle that passes the roadworthiness test is regarded as being safe to use on public roads but a vehicle that is found to be unroadworthy can be impounded by the police.

However, the test has certain limitations. Firstly, it is unable to guarantee continued roadworthiness. Shock absorbers which have covered 80,000 km may still be able to pass the roadworthiness test, but will be nearing the end of their lives, and it is the motorist's responsibility to replace them timeously to ensure continued safety. Secondly, the test is confined to the basics, because it would not be practical or cost-effective to conduct in-depth tests of every single component.

For example, rubber brake hoses deteriorate over the years, and may not be able to withstand the pressure of emergency braking after 15 to 20 years. But it is impractical for testing officials to dismantle and pressure-test each braking system component. Motorists are advised to keep up regular servicing and maintenance of their vehicles and to request a full safety inspection from their service centre. 

Finally, many vehicles are equipped with safety systems like ABS, stability control and airbags, not to mention other more advanced technologies like infra-red night vision cameras and lane departure warnings. The roadworthiness test is not required to ensure that all these technologies are functional, meaning that a vehicle with faults in these systems may be technically roadworthy but isn't providing the level of safety of which it is capable.

In South Africa periodic roadworthy testing is not compulsory as it is in many road safety conscious countries overseas. “The onus is therefore on the motorist to maintain the safety of their vehicles,” said the AA. 

Contact: AA Public Affairs
Telephone: 011 799 1180
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