Can I Insure an Unroadworthy Car?

What are signs of a unroadworthy car?

  • No vehicle identification – chassis and engine numbers
  • These numbers do not correspond to those on your certificate of vehicle registration
  • Should they differ, the insurer will need police clearance
  • Electrical system – all need to be in good working order
  • Doors and their handles – for easy ingress and egress in case of an emergency
  • Fuel tank cap – in best condition
  • Wheels and tyres – right amount of tread; mandatory depth of 1mm


Legally, it is a requirement in South Africa for all vehicles to be roadworthy. Therefore, all trucks, taxis and buses must, annually, go through a roadworthiness test as a prerequisite to licence renewal. And when buying a second-hand car, the car must go through a test and receive a roadworthiness certificate before it can change owners.

UnroadUnroadworthy Cars and Insuranceworthy – Roadworthy vehicles

Similarly, in order to purchase motor cover, a roadworthiness certificate is one of the documents you need before issuance. The policy document that comes with your motor insurance will clearly state that any insurance claims submitted to the insurer must be accompanied by a roadworthiness certificate.

In past studies in certain parts of South Africa, it is clear that a shockingly high percentage of vehicles are not roadworthy. Insurers deem unroadworthy vehicles as being negligent, and negligence is not somethng they want to associate themselves with.

Unroadworthy – Electrical system

One of the larger aspects of a car that make it fail its roadworthiness test is its electrical system. Headlights need to be able to dip, number plate and parking lights need to be in good working order, indicators, tail and stop lights require regular maintainance.

They will also check the working condition of other electrical aspects including engine and interior wiring, alternator, generator, battery, windscreen wipers and the hooter. Also ensure your battery clamps are tight, with no exposed or loose wiring. Headlights should focus correctly.

Ensure all light lenses do not have cracks, as moisture can enter the light housing and corrode light fixtures, causing malfunctioning lights. Legally, all vehicle lights should go on and off as needed, properly secured and must be in correct working order.

Unroadworthy – Doors and handles

All your vehicle’s doors should close and open easily, from outside and inside, with firmly attached hinges. The panels that line the inner doors should fit correctly without any jagged edges that may cause injury. Safety glass should be the only type of glass in your car, and clearly identifiable as such.

Window winders, whether electonic or manual should operate with ease, as should your seat belts, which must release and fasten easily. Their condition must be as stipulated in the law, that is not damaged, frayed or torn.

Seats should be secured firmly, with unexposed springs and padding material. Under-carriage and chassis rust should be checked for often as this affects the structural rigidity of your car.

Unroadworthy – Wheels and tyres

Your spare tyre should have a tread depth of 1mm or more, as should all your car’s tyres. Tread wear is attributable to play in the wheel bearings, worn out shock absorbers, wheels not aligned properly or improper tyre pressure.

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All info was correct at time of publishing January 18, 2018