Care Care: Don’t wait to renew your WoF
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It’s not wise to wait until your Warrant of Fitness is due to find out if your car needs attention. After all, it goes without saying that your car should be properly maintained and safe to drive at all times.
Recent figures shared by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency in the UK reveal that British motorists can prevent failures of their MoTs — the UK equivalent of our WoF — by carrying out basic maintenance on their cars.
Between April 2016 and March 2016, they reported that just under a fifth of all MoT failures were due to problems with lighting and signalling (19 per cent), including simple problems such as blown bulbs.
These were followed by issues with suspension (13 per cent), brakes (10 per cent), tyres (8 per cent) and issues impairing the driver’s vision (7.2 per cent).
Unsurprisingly, it’s a similar story in New Zealand. In fact, figures taken from the Motor Vehicle Register showed that faults with lights, tyres, steering/suspension and brakes contributed towards 71 per cent of component failure rates in November and December last year.
Simple, regular checks can make a difference
While the average Joe isn’t expected to be able to inspect his or her vehicle to the same degree as a qualified technician, there are some things that you can keep an eye on yourself to avoid a Warrant of Fitness failure.
Vision is paramount. Regularly check your lights by doing an occasional walk around of the car or taking the opportunity to use reflective surfaces to monitor your car’s back lights, and maintain the condition of your windscreen, wiper and washers so your view of the road isn’t obstructed.
Not only will replacing your bulbs as they blow prevent a WoF failure, this action will stop you from being pulled over by police. Plus you’ll be able to see — or be seen — by other motorists in poor weather.
This becomes even more important as we head into the months when the sun sets earlier. Make sure your tyres are correctly inflated, have no cuts or bulges and have the minimum level of tread.
Tyres can be expensive to replace so it’ll be better on your finances if you monitor these between checks, rather than get burdened with a hefty cost to get one or a number of tyres done at the same time, with little notice.
Give yourself a head start
The date that your WoF expires is the last chance you have to get your vehicle inspected before it becomes illegal to drive on the road.
If your car doesn’t pass its WoF, you can return your vehicle to the workshop within 28 days, after any repairs have been made, for a free recheck.
A common misconception is that this 28-day period means you can drive your vehicle as normal, after it has failed. This is not the case.
If your car has failed its WoF, you are legally permitted to drive it only to a workshop for its inspection or a recheck, or to get any necessary repair work done.
If you book your WoF in during the fortnight running up to its due date, you don’t lose any time off your original due date and so you could potentially benefit from up to two further weeks to budget for any repair work.
If you don’t feel confident about checking your own vehicle, take it to a professional for a safety check where an inspector will review a number of common factors that are likely to contribute towards a car failing its WoF.
AA members benefit from up to two free safety checks each year, but most workshops will offer these — or a basic check — at an affordable price, which can be booked between your six-monthly or annual inspections to prevent any nasty surprises on the day.