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The What, Why and How: Roadworthy Vehicles

car roadworthy what how why


As the owner of a vehicle, it can feel like a never ending task keeping it up to standard. Ensuring it meets your own standards is one thing, but legal requirements can be a little more particular, for good reason.

These legal requirements are set with the intention of ensuring road safety. Evidently, if your vehicle does not happen to meet these legal standards, it won’t be deemed roadworthy. A term often thrown around, however, legally speaking, roadworthiness has the power to determine whether or not you are able to sell or register your vehicle.

Neglecting roadworthy standards until you are ready to sell your vehicle can end up causing you a great level of grief and money all at once. Despite having a vehicle that appears to be well functioning, ignoring proper maintenance can result in a mass of hidden issues you are forced to fix at once.

Being aware of what makes a vehicle roadworthy can help you keep track of your vehicle’s safety standard, rather than ending up with excessive and unwelcome surprises.

The Legalities

There are many factors that determine what makes your vehicle roadworthy, but what about the why and how?

Why your Vehicle needs to be Roadworthy

As mentioned, having a roadworthy vehicle means your vehicle is up to the legal safety standards. These standards and laws are ultimately in place to keep you and others safe on the road. While having a Roadworthy Certificate is only necessary for a few reasons, being roadworthy means you are less likely to cop a fine for an unsafe vehicle, and you will be safer on the roads.

Having a Roadworthy Certificate is necessary when you are:

  • Buying or selling a registered vehicle
  • Transferring ownership of a vehicle
  • Transferring registration of a vehicle from another state to QLD
  • Re-registering an unregistered vehicle

How to Ensure your Vehicle is Roadworthy

To ensure your vehicle is legally roadworthy, you must obtain a Roadworthy Certificate. This can be done by having your vehicle inspected by a local service centre, and pass the inspection guidelines to be certified.

Taking your vehicle to be formally inspected without inspecting it yourself can result in you wasting yours and the inspectors time. If you notice any obvious damage or safety issues with your vehicle, it is highly recommended to fix them beforehand. However, there may be some issues with your vehicle that don’t catch your immediate attention. So what exactly deems your vehicle roadworthy?

What Makes Your Vehicle Roadworthy?

In Queensland, all roadworthy inspections are determined by an authorised checklist. This checklist will cover the following specifics:

Seats and Restraints:

All features as part of the vehicle’s seats and restraints must be in optimal condition. This means that all seating, seatbelts, anchorages and child restraints must be properly fitted to the vehicle and provide a comfortable and secure position for vehicle occupants. Cushions, backrests, head restraints, frames and slides and belt attachments must also be properly intact with no potential to hinder the safety of passengers.

Seatbelts are extremely important to remain in optimal condition, and not only for you to pass the roadworthy inspection. They are also a major safety precaution, reducing your risk of injury by 45%.

Lamps and Electrical Components:

Having a faulty light is the most common reason for failing a roadworthy inspection. Taking the time to check that all lamps, reflectors and electrical lighting components are operational could be the ultimate decider determining whether you pass the inspection.

You must also ensure the vehicle’s operating system, including any lamps, reflectors, and lens, are operating securely and properly. Any malfunctioning, faded or broken lights can be the reason your vehicle is not deemed roadworthy.

car belt repair

Windscreens and Glazing:

As auto glass professionals, we at Novus consider windscreen safety to be of extremely high importance. As does the Government, as it is actually illegal to drive in Australia with a smashed or majorly cracked windscreen, because of the high risk it puts you and other drivers at.

Before having your vehicle inspected, ensure your windscreens, windows and associated components are all in a condition that allows the driver a clear field of vision.

Your windscreens must be 100% free of chips and damages, so it may be ideal to seek help from a window repair technician before your inspection.

If you address the windscreen damage quickly, it could end up being a relatively simple and inexpensive process. Even if you don’t consider any chips or crack a hindrance, many have the potential to get worse, so it’s better to solve the problem instantly.

Body Chassis and Frame:

Inspecting your vehicle’s body chassis and frame, unless you’re a car buff, is likely not something you do on a regular basis. Before the inspection, take the time to ensure your vehicle’s body is structurally sound and free from any defects, protrusions or additional fittings likely to increase the chance of injury. This can mean analysing the entire body kit, door and frame components, mudguards, and any moving parts.

Tow Couplings:

If your vehicle has tow couplings and any associated components, they must be in a serviceable condition and provide their necessary load carrying capacity. Take note of the standards for your tow bars, tow hooks, automatic couplings, fifth wheels/turntables, skid plates, king pins, mounting bolts, electrical wiring, flexible pipes and safety chains or cables. If they are not up to standard, you will need to remove or replace them with more efficient alternatives.

Steering and Suspension:

Having effective control of your vehicle is obviously a vital factor to ensure your safety. It is of the utmost importance that your steering and suspension is in good working order. This includes knobs and levers, locating arms and associated componentry, sway bars, linkages, bushes, shock absorbers and suspension struts.

Wheels and Tyres:

Issues with your wheels and tyres is another popular reason as to why people fail their roadworthy certification. It is recommended that you monitor their condition to ensure they are a suitable type for your vehicle, in adequate condition, and provide the necessary load carrying capacity, speed rating and control. If they are worn, have a crack, or a tread depth less than 1.5mm, it is a cause for failure.


Understandably, having functioning brakes is another key factor for a safe and roadworthy vehicle. All brake components, linings, pedal, hand brake components, hydraulic components and brake failure indicator must operate effectively and be correctly adjusted.

Engine, Driveline, and Emissions:

All engine and associated components including the chain/belt, driveline components, exhaust components, fuel delivery system, powertrain, and transmission must provide a controlled transmission of power to the driving wheels.

Vehicle Safety Features:

As safety standards evolve and change overtime, the vehicle must abide by the current safety standards within their manufactured functionality. This means you are required to monitor and optimise the vehicle’s electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution, automated emergency braking systems, airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and seat belt load limiters.

How to Make your Vehicle Roadworthy

While the checklist may seem slightly overwhelming, this is generally only if it is left to the last minute. A lot of the items are actually miniscule, and can be ensured through regular servicing, upkeep, and general good care of your vehicle.

Specifically, we have a few tips to help keep your vehicle roadworthy all year round:

Maintaining your Windscreen

Whether your windscreen is chipped, cracked, smashed, or discoloured, it is highly recommended you repair the issue before it requires a full replacement. Save your money and time in the long run.

It is in your best safety and economic interest to contact an auto glass repair company sooner rather than later, and have one less issue to deal with when it comes time to certify your vehicle.

changing tyres roadworthy

Check your Lights

Ironically, as one of the most common reasons for failing a certification, it is also the easiest to inspect and fix. It is worth taking the time to quickly check and change any faulty lights, to optimise your road safety and save you the hassle in the long run. It will also diminish your chance of copping the hefty $137 fine and demerit point for failing to have your headlights on.

Maintain your Tyres:

Maintaining your vehicle’s tyres can not only improve your safety on the road, but extend their life and provide you with a smoother ride. The best way to maintain your tyres is by regularly checking their air pressure, checking the specifications in your owner’s manual, and rotating them every 10,000km. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, or want further advice on when to replace your tyres, be sure to have your vehicle regularly serviced.

Wash and Clean your Car Regularly

A general, yet understated process, washing and cleaning the exterior and interior of your car regularly will ensure it is kept in the best condition possible.

As cracked windscreens are the number one reason for failing roadworthy certifications, it is important you maintain and upkeep your vehicle. Visit Novus AutoGlass if you have any concerns, or need help preparing for your roadworthy inspection.

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