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Road Worthy for who?


A quality Roadworthy Vehicle Certificate is a legal requirement that is compulsory on every vehicle in South Africa. After getting the results back the seller called me with the bad news…

I’m in the process of buying a BMW M5, it’s the E39 model variant. If you still don’t know what that is then let me simplify the name, it’s a sixteen year old performance sedan. It is in pretty good condition, has all the original user manuals and all the documentation of work done to it. I got approval for finance and all looked good until it went for its road worthy test.

Let me start at the beginning, which is about four months back. I found the car online and called the seller who was reluctant to sell the car to me when he learnt of my age. He told me that he doesn’t want to sell the car to just anybody. This was a good thing really because it told me that he cares about the car and is not wanting to get rid of it as fast as he can.

After a week of convincing this guy that I am the right person for that car he gave in and we started the process. I contacted a vehicle finance institution and was greeted by friendly staff from the first hello. The process was quick, even though I was buying this car privately. Sure there is a bit more red tape doing a private deal than buying from a dealer because the bank needs to protect you and their car.

After some heavy negotiating regarding the interest rate they offered me due to my age as well as the deposit that needed to be paid all was sorted. The seller needed to take the car for a Road Worthy check which he had to pay for. I knew about certain things on the car that needed attention as he does not use the car anymore he never bothered to fix them. Things like the handbrake which is worn, the air-conditioning unit is faulty and tyres needed to be replaced.

I replaced all four tyres on the car as we both knew it would not pass its test, the handbrake could be an issue however it still works so we held our breath and sent the car for a check.

The bank specified a test centre which they have partnered with. The seller had to pay around R1250 for the test. According to the test centre the test can take up to three hours. After getting the results back the seller called me to tell me the bad news…

My soon to be BMW M5 failed because of the fact that one of the number plate lights had fused. Yes, just the one little light. This made me upset because this meant that the car would need to go for a retest, which means that I need to wait longer for my car. I just can’t handle this amount of anxiety!

So I got thinking why these tests are so important and what they actually mean for you, the buyer as well as for the seller. A quality Roadworthy Vehicle Certificate is a legal requirement that is compulsory on every vehicle in South Africa. It is against the law to drive a car that is not Roadworthy.

The reason why the car was failed because of something so silly is because the testing station is that of high quality. Sometimes the need for a high quality Roadworthy Vehicle Inspection is never given a thought as it is usually someone else’s problem and is just a compliance requirement as part of the registration process.

 If you are in the process of purchasing a vehicle, a legal Roadworthy Certificate is required before the vehicle will be registered on your name. Usually the dealership selling you the car will take care of this on your behalf, but if it is a private deal you will have to make the arrangements yourself. I suggest doing this after your finance institution has given you the go ahead. Some of them, like mine will only accept certificates from a hand full of approved centres. Don’t go out and do it or pay for it before instructed to, this could mean that you would have to pay twice and no one wants that.

So despite my annoyance, the fault is but miniscule and after the seller bout a new bulb the car went back for its test and passed. I was lucky because the seller has been honest and open with me from the beginning, some people out there aren’t so trustworthy. This is why it is important to have your vehicle sent for as many checks as required. It will save you a lot of money as well as protect you interests.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
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