Understanding the WoF Inspection

In order to drive a private vehicle (car, ute, van and four-wheel drive) in New Zealand, it must display a Warrant of Fitness (WoF) label in the front of the vehicle.

To get a WoF label, the vehicle must pass a WoF check.

A Warrant of Fitness (WoF) is a manual check of your vehicle to ensure that it meets the required safety standards to be driven in New Zealand.

Purpose of a WoF

The purpose of a WoF is to ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive – safe for the driver, passengers and all other road users. A WoF inspection includes a thorough check of your vehicle and its components, helping you avoid a breakdown or collision.

How often your vehicle needs a WoF inspection?

You need to have a WoF inspection done on a regular basis. How long your WoF lasts depends on the age of the vehicle. This is mandated by the New Zealand Transport Agency/Waka Kotahi.

When the vehicle was first registered (anywhere in the world)

WOF issued for

New vehicle that’s never been registered

WoF is issued for 3 years

Less than two years ago

WoF is issued to the vehicle’s third ‘birthday’ (third anniversary of when it was first registered)

More than two years ago, but less than three years ago

WoF is issued for 12 months

On or after 1 January 2000, but more than three years ago

WoF is issued for 12 months

Before 1 January 2000

WoF is issued for six months

Common reasons for WoF failure

There is a very long list of things that are checked during your WoF inspection. Some of the most common reasons why a vehicle won’t pass its inspection are:

  • tyres – tread depth is too low
  • brakes – brake pads are too worn
  • exhaust – modified exhaust system is too loud or doesn’t pass safety requirements
  • lights – any of the many lights, indicators, hazard lights, brake lights, fog lights, etc don’t work
  • windscreen wipers – blades are too old or wipers don’t provide clear vision
  • seatbelts – don’t click in properly or have rips, tears or fraying
  • chassis – the structure is damaged or there is too much rust

WoF Inspection Prep Tips

The best tip we can give you to help ensure that your vehicle passes its WoF inspection is to have regular checks and maintenance done on your car. You don’t want to discover any unexpected surprises during the inspection.

It’s a waste of time and money to try to get your vehicle to pass its inspection if you know there are parts or components that aren’t up to the required safety standards.

Here are some of the things that are checked during a WoF inspection.

Tyres and Wheels

There are several things that are checked regarding your vehicle’s wheels and tyres. The inspector will check your tyre pressure, tread depth, wheel alignment … and more.

Don’t forget, your spare tyre will also be checked. So make sure it doesn’t have any cracks or splits from nails or glass, that it has the minimum amount of tread, and that it is kept at the right tyre pressure.


To pass your WOF, you need to ensure that all your lights are working – and there are a lot of them. This includes your headlights (dipped and high beams), taillights, indicators, park lights, brake lights, hazard and fog lights.

You’ll need to ask a friend or family member to help – ask them to stand behind and then in front of your stationary vehicle while you test all of the lights.

You should also check that all light fixtures and casings are clean, free from moisture and do not have any cracks.


Your brakes need to operate fully. This may be tricky for you to assess yourself, so feel free to book a brake check with us before your WoF inspection.

The WoF safety regulations relating to brakes also cover parking brakes, so make sure you test that as well. Some common reasons why vehicles fail their WoF include having non-compliant aftermarket brake pedals, and having a parking or service brake that doesn’t work properly.

Steering and Suspension

The inspector will check that your steering and suspension are “safe and secure”, but how do you check ahead of time that they are?

First off, if you are driving a modified car, the inspector will probably be looking straight away to see if your suspension is too low or too stiff. So it’s best to have that checked out before your appointment.

Generally speaking, for all cars, if you notice any shaking, noises, or pulling to the side when you drive, you may have suspension or steering problems that need to be remedied before your WoF inspection.

Windscreen and Wipers

This is a common reason why vehicles don’t pass their WoF, and yet it’s so easy to check and fix. The inspector will check that both wiper blades are present and functional, but they’ll also check how they perform. If your blades leave smudges or otherwise don’t result in adequate forward vision when they are activated, that’s grounds for a fail.

Pre-Inspection Maintenance

If there is anything you’re unsure about before your car is due for its WoF, get in touch with the helpful team at Mt Roskill Collision Centre. We can make sure all the components of your vehicle are being properly maintained and serviced so you never have to worry about failing a WoF check.

The importance of following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule

The easiest way to ensure your car passes its WoF inspection is to keep up with a regular service and maintenance schedule.

This helps you stay on top of some of the smaller maintenance responsibilities so they don’t turn into costly repair jobs. It also helps keep you as safe on the road as possible.

How often your car needs regular maintenance depends on the age, make and model of your car, as well as your driving habits and mileage. Get in touch and we can give you a quote for a regular maintenance program.

On Inspection Day

Arriving prepared

It’s important to arrive on inspection day as prepared as possible. Make sure you’ve done the pre-inspection maintenance and checks suggested above.

It doesn’t hurt to make sure your car is clean and free from unnecessary clutter inside.

Make sure you allocate enough time for the inspection – ask ahead of time how long it will take, including the expected waiting time. There’s no benefit in rushing an inspector who you need on your side.

Talk to us about coordinating your regular vehicle service dates with your WoF renewal. We have a number of service and pricing options to choose from.

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