Warrant Of Fitness

October 21, 2013

Every 6 months every car owner in New Zealand has to go down to their local garage and get a Warrant of Fitness inspection. This is a fairly comprehensive look at the working status of all of the safety features on the car. By no means does this mean your car runs well, there’s no oil change or tire rotation involved. Its simply a bi-annual safety check. There’s about 40 boxes to tick, but generally, here’s what they look at:

A Warrant of Fitness inspection includes the following safety checks:
  • Tyre condition (including tread depth)
  • Brake operation
  • Structural condition (rust isn’t allowed in certain key areas)
  • Lights (are all bulbs working?)
  • Glazing (is your windscreen safe?)
  • Windscreen washers and wipers (do they work?)
  • Doors (do they open and close safely?)
  • Safety belts (must not be faded or damaged; buckles must work properly)
  • Airbags (if fitted – SRS light should work correctly)
  • Speedometer (must be working)
  • Steering and suspension (must be safe and secure)
  • Exhaust (there must be no leaks and the exhaust must not be too loud or too smoky)
  • Fuel system (there must be no leaks)                                                         (source: www.vtnz.co.nz)
Today I went to get warrant on my Golf, making this my fifth time getting WOF done. We’ve gone through some cars during our short time in New Zealand! And since I have so much experience, my stomach gets all knotted up just thinking about it. So far, our past/present cars have failed 100% of the time. We’ve had to replace tires, brake pads, headlights. We’ve had to fix maladjusted doors and finicky indicator switches. Some would say this is just the joy of owning a car in New Zealand (ie: an old piece of junk). I don’t get much joy.
For me it’s like going to the dentist. You walk in with a sense of dread. You don’t always take the best care of your car (teeth). Sometimes you forget to check your tire pressure (or floss). As you sit in the waiting room, you see everyone else waiting, tense, knowing bad news is likely on the way. Then it’s your car’s turn. It takes about 45 minutes, and just like at the dentist, the mechanics speak in a gibberish only they understand. To you, it sounds like this car is a failure. It fails on every level. Look how poorly it’s been cared for. (You never floss, do you?).
They poke and prod at the car from all angles, jacking it way up in the air, putting it through some sort of brake check that appears to take 6 months off my recently expensive new brake pads. With every part of the inspection, my anxiety grows. There’s so many ways my car can fail. If I had washed it before I brought it in, would the shiny paint make it look safer?
Then the man walks up to you, with his clipboard. If you’ve passed they just call your name, give the key back, and hand you your shiny new sticker which means 6 months of freedom on the open road. If he walks up to you with the clip board… dun, dun, duuuuuun. There’s trouble. Dammit.
“One of your brake light bulbs is out”, he says. I wait for the rest of the bad news. Surely that’s not it. That’s never it.
“Ok…….” I say.
“I can fix it”, he says.
“Yep, that’s great!” I say, hoping he does it quickly before he notices the 10 epic catastrophes he must have somehow missed.
I can’t believe it. This has been the best trip to the garage ever. I mean, technically I still failed- but the fix took 5 minutes and I got my shiny new sticker of freedom. No more WOF induced anxiety until April (for my car, anyways). It’s like I got out of the dentist with my new toothbrush, no cavities, and only a slight scolding to floss more often. (I’m working on it Kerry, I swear!)
The downside to all of this is that 6 months from now I’m surely going to walk in with a false sense of security and BAM, they’ll get me.
Because a photo of the WOF garage is boring, here’s recent views from our deck. It’s starting to look like summer again!!!
Sunset over the estuary

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