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Top tips for keeping your car roadworthy

Keep your car on the road by following a few simple steps.

There’s nothing worse than the thought of having to hock your organs in order to foot a repair bill from your mechanic just to get your car reregistered for another year. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.

In 2014, 1 in 6 people who took their vehicles for a ‘pink slip’ registration check in NSW failed. While these figures from the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) may sound like a lot, many failures that included worn tyres and faulty lights could have easily been prevented.

Roadworthy tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.5mm and be free from cracks. 

Advice from a master mechanic

Veteran Sydney mechanic Abbas Sayed says that saving money and time on servicing requires basic diligence. 

“When problems arise, fix them and you will avoid being hit with a big bill,” Mr Sayed said.

However, he advises that a thorough inspection by a quality, authorised mechanic is not only legally binding but paramount to safety and should include brakes, suspension and wheel alignment.

“There are some shonky mechanics that do quick inspections and they are unfortunately passing cars that aren’t roadworthy, mainly because they want to earn the inspection fee and some quick money,” he said.

DIY checks 

Do it yourself checks may not be enough to make an old clunker roadworthy, but what it will do is allow you to source parts or service the car at your own pace and at a price you’re happy with.


The first and easiest check is to check that all the lights are functioning while ensuring there are no cracked or faded lenses. Don’t forget the indicators and number plate lights, and if the car has fog lights they must be working as well. Check the brake lights by recruiting a friend to step on the pedal while you watch.

Headlight bulbs are a cheap fix and can be bought for as little as $12, with indicator/blinker and tail light bulbs starting at around $10 for a set. Instructions on how to change these should be in your car’s owner manual.


Worn tyres are another common failure. Ensuring they’re in good condition will not only increase your safety on the road but will also help reduce the overall running costs.

Roadworthy tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.5mm and be free from cracks. 

Look over the car for rust as anything that breaks the paint’s surface or creates a bubble in the duco may cause a fail.

It’s also wise to make sure that all tyres have valve caps fitted to protect them from grime and weather.  Check the air pressure in all tyres at least once a month and ensure they are inflated as per your car’s user manual or tyre placard.  

Tyres can be rotated to maximise their life span, however it’s always a good idea to check with an expert as some tyres are directional and may only be changed from front to back.


After checking the pressure, it’s a good idea to open the bonnet and make sure the brake, coolant and windscreen wash fluid reservoirs are at the right levels. If you’re unsure, check with a mechanic. All engine and brake components must be free of any fluid leaks. A low fluid level could indicate a leak.

Wiper blades
Replacing cracked or old windscreen wiper blades will also help you avoid failing a rego inspection. Regardless of weather conditions, it’s crucial to have clear vision of the road and new windscreen wiper blades will help keep your windscreen clean. From as little as $15, you can do this simple check and replace if need be with basic tools.


At this point, you should look over the car for rust as anything that breaks the paint’s surface or creates a bubble in the duco may cause a fail.

Exhaust leaks

Keep an ear out for increased noise levels from your exhaust because this may indicate a leak, which can also lead to failing an inspection.


Registration requirements by state

Depending on which state you live in, cars will require their first annual registration check with an authorised mechanic from the age of five years onwards.

What: No annual inspection required. Once registered, ACT vehicles don’t require an inspection unless there's a change in ownership. 
Cost: $63.70 for an initial inspection. See here for more details

What: Cars and light commercial vehicles up to five tonnes that are more than five years old will require an annual eSafety Check inspection. This is commonly known as a 'pink slip' and must be completed before the car’s registration can be renewed. 
Cost: $37.40 for an eSafety check and $60.50 for a blue slip. See here for more details

What:  Any vehicle more than five years old must pass a vehicle inspection by an authorised examiner before registration can be issued or renewed. The car must then undergo another check at ten years old and from that point onward, it will have to endure an annual inspection similar to that in NSW.
Cost: Depending on the mechanic and car’s condition, the inspection will start at $45. See here for more details.  

What: No annual inspection required. A safety certificate is only required if you plan to sell a vehicle.
Cost: Safety certificate inspection fee $72.20. See here for more details

What: Only road trains, b-doubles, buses and taxis need a annual vehicle inspection.  
Cost: The cost of obtaining a certificate can vary depending on the vehicle. See here for more details.

What: No annual inspection required. Cars only have to be inspected and a certificate presented if it has been unregistered longer than 3 months.
Cost: The cost of obtaining a certificate is not fixed and can vary. See here for more details

What: No annual inspection required.  A Certificate of Roadworthiness is only required when selling your car, to clear a vehicle defect, or if your car becomes unregistered. 
Cost: The cost of obtaining a certificate is not fixed and can vary depending on the age, type and the condition of the vehicle. Ask for a quote from a Licensed Vehicle Tester before committing. See here for more details

What: No annual inspection required. 
Cost: $88.45. See here for more details

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