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Vehicles become unroadworthy for many reasons. These can include obvious faults, such as bald tyres and faulty brakes, or when the vehicle no longer meets or does not conform to the Road Traffic Act and Regulations and the Australian Design Rules.
Mechanical and safety-related faults could contribute to a crash or increase the likelihood of injuries to you, your passengers, and other road users.
Vehicles that have been defected are inspected for roadworthiness to make sure that these faults have been corrected to make the vehicle safe and legal.
It is important to remember that the SA Police (SAPOL) and the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) vehicle services inspectors only defect vehicles to ensure your safety and the safety of others using the roads.
When your vehicle is defected by a police officer or DIT inspector the driver will be instructed to either present the vehicle to a nominated police station or to contact DIT to arrange a date and time for a defect inspection.
The police may choose to clear minor defects such as lights, tyres, horns, or wipers but they will not clear defect notices that have been directed to DIT for a more detailed inspection.
If you are told to take your defected vehicle to the police for inspection, they will check if the defected items have been attended to. If they are satisfied the faults have been rectified, they may remove the defect notice from your vehicle.
However, if the police determine there are still faults present, or they notice further faults not listed on the defect notice, they may re-defect the vehicle or they can refer the vehicle to DIT for a full roadworthiness inspection. Within the metropolitan area of Adelaide, inspections of serious defects, for example, brakes, steering or suspension, and all other roadworthiness inspections, are undertaken at DIT's Vehicle Inspection Station at Regency Park or at Lonsdale.
Inspectors examine the entire vehicle to make sure it is safe to be driven on the road. This means inspecting all components that affect the safety of you, your passengers, and other road users. They also inspect the vehicle to ensure it meets environmental requirements for exhaust emissions, noise, and other items required by the Vehicles Standards Rules. Before bringing your vehicle in for inspection, make sure it is clean inside, underneath, and in the engine compartment.
If you have ensured that all possible defects have been corrected, there is less likelihood of it needing a second inspection. Vehicles that are excessively dirty will not be inspected and you will have to make a new appointment and pay another fee.
Fees are prescribed by Parliament and normally increase with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). DIT must collect these fees and when you ring to book your inspection you will be advised of the fee at that time.
An inspection fee and a pre-paid booking fee are charged for each vehicle inspection appointment.
Payment for fees charged for inspections must be made prior to the inspection being undertaken. When making your inspection booking you can choose to pay your fee over the phone by credit card.
What is inspected
The following list briefly describes the main items that will be checked. It is a good idea to check these items yourself first or have your vehicle inspected by a competent mechanic before bringing it to DIT. Vehicles that are used for specific applications such as restricted access vehicles, modified vehicles, and vehicles used for hire, fare, or reward.
- all lights and turn signals are in good working condition
- all wiring and connections are in good condition
- horn, windscreen wipers, and washers in good working condition.
- engine mounts secure and in good condition
- emission controls fitted and operating
- no excessive exhaust smoke or oil leaks
- heavy vehicle speed limiter set correctly if required.
Note: passenger cars manufactured on or after 1 January 1974 must be fitted with the original induction system, camshaft, and associated emission control systems. Non-standard blow-off valves, turbo timers, boost controls, turbos, engine management systems, or engine internals are not permitted unless previously approved.
Seats and seatbelts
- original equipment or approved seat belts fitted
- seat belts correctly secured
- no structural damage or modifications to seats
- seat belts not excessively worn, damaged or frayed
- buckles, retractors, and seat adjusters working properly
- correct number of seat belts for seating positions
- all child restraints to be easily accessible, with no modifications within 200mm of the anchorage.
Note: passenger cars manufactured on or after 1 July 1976 must have the appropriate number of child restraint anchor points fitted.
Body and chassis
- no cracks or rust in structural components
- no unsealed holes in the firewall
- no sharp edges or projections
- all repairs are done to an acceptable standard
- mudguards covering tyres.
- complete exhaust system mounted correctly
- no leaks or excessive noise.
Wheels and tryes
- wheel studs and nuts in good condition note broken or missing
- no buckled, bent, or cracked rims
- tyres in good condition with a sufficient tread depth
- tyres of the correct size, type, and load rating
- aftermarket wheels marked with offset, width, manufacturer's identification, and standard of manufacture
- wheel track within specified limits.
Note: for passenger cars manufactured on or after 1 January 1973, the tyres fitted must be within 15mm of the overall diameters of those listed on the tyre placard.
Suspension and steering
- no excessive wear or free play
- no component is to be bent, broken, cracked, heated, or welded
- sufficient ground clearance and suspension travel to meet legal requirements
- all attachment points are in good condition and secure
- steering wheel in good condition and either original equipment or an acceptable standard for road use
- suspension and steering to move freely with no binding or jamming.
- hoses and pipes are in good condition with no sign of leaks, chafing, cracks, or other signs of deterioration
- brakes to operate evenly
- all braking components (hoses calipers discs pedal) to be an acceptable standard for road use
- cables in good condition, with no joins, broken strands, kinks, or corrosion
- cables, hoses, and pipes correctly secured
- pedal not to have a spongy feel, excessive travel, or require excessive force to operate
- all other components are in good condition, not leaking, securely mounted, and correctly adjusted.
Note: The operation of brakes (including the handbrake) will be tested.
- the windscreen is not to be excessively cracked, chipped, or scratched
- all glass to be safety glass and have the appropriate Standards markings
- film tint, if fitted, to comply with the Road Traffic Act (Vehicle Standards) Rules 2018 Rule 44
- no fuel leaks
- LP gas system to be correctly installed, in good condition, and with an LPG compliance plate fitted (LPG compliance plates cannot be transferred from one vehicle to another)
- all door and bonnet latches work correctly
- speakers are to be securely mounted
- additional switches and gauges not mounted in a position likely to increase injury in a crash.
Driving a vehicle while defected
Your vehicle must be covered by some form of registration either a current registration, an unregistered vehicle permit, or a trader's plate.
The police officer or DIT inspector will stipulate on the defect notice the amount of time that you may use the vehicle. Once that time expires, you can only drive the vehicle on the road to and from the places of repair or inspection.
Vehicles with defect notices marked 'Lift Tow’ may not be driven on the road until repaired.
Authorisation to drive prior to inspection
- the booking details for inspection with DIT
- proof the vehicle registration is still current
- proof of repairs.
If the police officer or inspector is satisfied that the vehicle is safe they then may give authorisation for its use.