Department of State GrowthTransport

Roadworthiness

Top 10 car safety checks that all car owners need to do

All car owners should:

  • Regularly check car's roadworthiness.

  • Ensure all features are in good working condition and that the car is safe to drive on the road.

  • Regular checks do not replace scheduled professional car services. You should get an experienced motor mechanic to service your car.

  • If you experience any mechanical problems with your car you should get a mechanic to check it immediately. Do not wait until your next scheduled service.

 

Tyres

Tyre care is essential for maintaining car safety. Tyres should be checked on a regular basis and before any long driving trips. Correctly maintained tyres will improve fuel economy, tyre life and safety.

Tyre Wear

Worn and damaged tyres can be unsafe to drive on. It is important to regularly check your tyres for wear and damage.

Tread pattern must be at least 1.5mm deep across the entire surface of the tyre.

Tread wear indicator bars are moulded across the tread at regular spacings around the tyre. These can help to tell if your tyre needs replacing or not.

When the tread wears the wear bar may be level with the tread blocks. The letters TWI are often moulded into the edge of the tyre tread at the wear bar locations.

Tread helps pump water out from between the tyre and road.  Tyre grip on a wet road reduces considerably as the tread wears down.

It is a good idea to think about replacing worn tyres before they reach their minimum legal tread depth.

Tyre Tread Indacators

The following may also indicate that your tyres are unsafe.

  • Tyres must not have any deep cuts, bulges or exposed cords.

  • The tread pattern must be the original pattern - that is, the tyre must not have been re-grooved.

  • Vibrations in the steering may indicate the tyres require balancing.

  • Uneven wear patterns indicate possible wheel alignment or suspension problems.

Tyre Pressure

Tyre pressure should be checked regularly (every 2 weeks and before any long trips) to ensure tyres have enough air in them. Correctly pumped up tyres can help to save fuel and handle better on the road.

Check tyre pressure when tyres are cold. The recommended pressure for your tyres can be found in the owner's manual.

Don't forget to check your spare tyre.

 

Oil

Engine oil helps the engine to run, reduces friction and saves fuel.

All cars should have their oil checked regularly. Only top up using oil specified by the manufacturer in the owner's manual.

Important Information

The following instructions can help you to check your oil.

  • Always park your car on level ground, with the hand brake on and the engine off.

  • Open the bonnet (there's usually a lever under the dashboard) and prop it open with its support.  Avoid touching the hot engine. Allow one minute for the oil to settle.

  • Pull out the dipstick (which you'll find sticking out from the engine block - recognisable by its looped end). Wipe the stick clean with a paper towel or rag and put it back in fully for several seconds. Remove it again to study the oil level.

  • The oil level should fall somewhere between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick and may need topping up.

  • The following diagram is a guide to how much oil your car may require to top up.

Oil Levels

  • Unscrew filter cap and pour oil in to top up.

  • Replace the dipstick and the oil filter cap securely.

Your car also requires a complete oil change from time to time. This is usually done by your mechanic when your car gets serviced.

 

Windscreen and Glazing

It is important that windscreens are clear, clean and undamaged so the driver can see.

Important Information

  • A windscreen that has a bulls-eye, star fracture or crack reduces the driver's vision and should be assessed as soon as possible and if required fixed by a professional.

  • Windscreen wipers should be replaced regularly. Wear and damage to the blade rubbers reduces their effectiveness.

  • Check that windscreen washers are correctly aimed at the windscreen and work effectively to maintain visibility. Also make sure the windscreen demister works properly.

  • Ensure the washer bottle is full to allow you to clean the windscreen at all times.

Seatbelts and Child Restraints

Seatbelts protect you and your passengers in a crash. Seatbelts will not work if they are damaged and worn. Replace seatbelts immediately if they show signs of wear and tear.

Important Information

  • Check that all retractors (where applicable), locking mechanisms, buckles, tongues and adjustment devices are in working order.

  • All children under seven years of age must wear an approved child restraint that is properly fastened and adjusted when travelling in a car. This is the law.

  • Child restraint must be secured to anchor points. These anchor points must not be loose, cracked or missing.

  • For more information on the appropriate child restraint for your child refer to child restraints and for fitting information refer to the vehicle owner's manual or contact a qualified motor mechanic.

Lights and Electrical Components

Lights are critical for car safety, they help you to see and other driver's to see you.

Check your head lights, tail lights, indicators and warning lights regularly to ensure they work correctly. Lights that do not work should be replaced immediately.

The following instructions can help you to change a light.

  • To access the light socket, remove the cover (this may pull off using a tab or unscrew).

  • Unplug the electrical connector at the back of the headlight or taillight.

  • Unscrew or unclip the bulb retaining mechanism (this can be a metal ring or a plastic holder) and remove the old bulb.

  • Handle the new bulb only by its base.(Never touch the glass with bare skin - oils in the skin cause a weak spot on the glass and as a result, the bulb may burn out quicker).

  • Fit the new bulb, replace the retaining mechanism, and then re-plug the connector.

  • Switch the lights on to make sure they're operating correctly.

Only replace using the recommended globes. This information can be found in your owner's manual.

If you require help to do this, your local mechanic, automotive retailer or dealership may be able to help.

Ensure headlights are properly aligned to shine on the road, not in the eyes of oncoming drivers. Refer to your owner's manual or a qualified motor mechanic to assist in checking alignment.

For any electrical problems consult your owner's manual or contact a qualified motor mechanic.

Check to ensure other electrical components including horns and window demisters work.

 

Brakes

Brakes that are in good condition can help you to stop quickly so you can avoid a crash.

Brakes that are in poor condition can take longer to stop and could potentially cause you to crash.

Squealing brakes or unusual vibrations may indicate your brakes need replacing. This needs to be done by a professional.

Another sign of worn brakes is poor brake performance.

Important Information

  • It is important you regularly check your car's brake fluid levels.

  • To check brake fluid, first turn off engine and wait until it has cooled.

  • Before checking the fluid level, clean the area around the reservoir cap thoroughly. The fluid level must be kept close to the MAX level line.

  • Always use the recommended brake fluid for your car. Check the owner's manual for recommended brake fluid for your car.

  • If you have to keep topping it up it may indicate a problem with your brakes and you should get them checked by a professional.

  • Do not allow brake fluid to make contact with your skin or eyes.

Mirrors

Rear view and external mirrors enhance the driver's vision by allowing a wider field of vision to the rear and sides and minimising blind spots.

Make sure the rear view and external mirrors are securely mounted and not damaged i.e. missing sections, cracked or are not secured.

Drivers still need to use head checks to ensure that there are no cars in their blind spots before merging or changing lanes.

 

Suspension

Worn suspension components can increase your stopping distance by up to 20%.

Properly functioning suspension ensures a more comfortable ride for passengers.

Important Information

  • Suspension components should be checked regularly for any signs of physical damage and excess wear.

  • Shock absorbers should be checked for fluid leaks.

  • Check your suspension when driving for any abnormalities i.e. steering wheel vibration, nose diving when stopping.

  • For any suspension problems consult your owner's manual or experienced motor dealer and repairer.

Power Steering

If power steering fails you could be putting yourself and your occupants in danger.  A power steering fluid leak of low level can be the cause.

A car designed to have power steering can be very hard to steer in some situations without it.  If it goes suddenly, you could find it hard to control the vehicle.

Important Information

  • Power steering fluid should be checked regularly to ensure it is filled to capacity.

  • The fluid can be checked via the reservoir. For the specific location check your owner's manual.

  • Only use the recommended oil for your car, this information can be found in your owner's manual.

  • Never over fill the reservoir.

  • For any power steering related problems contact your experienced motor dealer and repairer.

Vehicle Familiarisation

Know The Car

Before you commence driving ensure you are familiar with the location and operation of car features. Ensuring familiarisation can assist to safely operate the car and avoid distraction.

Some of the features found in cars equipped with new technology are:

  • keyless ignition systems

  • complex occupant airbag systems

  • electronic or foot operated parking brakes

  • discreet gear change levers

  • hybrid drive systems with automatic engine idle stop

  • CVT and DSG transmissions

  • indicator controls or headlight controls on either side of the steering column

  • automatic headlights and windscreen wipers

  • adaptive front lighting systems

  • hill start assist

  • space saver spare wheels

Emergency Equipment

Make sure the car has sufficient emergency equipment that is up to date and accessible including a fire extinguisher, jack, lug wrench, spare tyre and communication devices.

 

Vehicle Familiarisation
Vehicle Familiarisation

Things to keep an eye on while driving

Stop your car and check immediately if:

  • a warning light remains on

  • you feel any unusual vibrations

  • your temperature gauge reads hot

  • you hear any unusual noises

  • your oil pressure gauge reads low

  • your vehicle has a tendency to wander or steer to one side

  • you experience any abnormalities when braking

You should also get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible if it:

  • uses more fuel or oil than usual

  • is difficult to start

  • runs roughly

  • leaves oil or coolant on the driveway

  • blows smoke

Vehicle Familiarisation

When is a vehicle roadworthy inspection for light vehicles required?

In Tasmania, a vehicle roadworthy inspection is required when the vehicle:

  • has been fitted with a non standard engine

  • construction has been changed (e.g. change to length of wheelbase, or the vehicle has been converted from a sedan to a convertible)

  • is a bus with seating for 10 or more

  • has been issued with a defect notice

  • has been imported from overseas

  • was originally manufactured as left hand drive

  • has been rebuilt from parts and is a hot rod, beach buggy, etc.

  • has been changed and the seating capacity is different

  • is a repaired written-off vehicle
  • was registered in another state (trailers registered in another state are also required to be inspected)

Maintaining roadworthiness standards of existing vehicles is important to road safety. The benefits of introducing periodic vehicle inspections in Tasmania will be considered, based on interstate and international experience, cost effectiveness and community impact.