How to Get a WoF in NZ & How Often Do I Need One?

You need a warrant of fitness (WoF) to drive on the road in NZ, but what does it cover, how often do you need one, and how do you get one?

Around 40% of New Zealand’s fleet fails its WoF inspections at the first instance, according to AA Insurance. The majority of these failures are simple defects, such as lights and wipers. It’s natural to feel a little uneasy or nervous taking your car in for a WoF, as it’s basically like taking yourself to the doctor or dentist for a check-up. But as it’s for the safety of you and others road-users, it’s necessary and required by law.

How to Get a WoF in NZ: How Often Do I Need One? In this article we cover:

What is a WoF?

A WoF is a regular check to ensure that your vehicle meets required safety standards. It’s up to you to keep your vehicle up to WoF condition at all times. For example, while tyres on your vehicle may pass on the day of your warrant inspection, you’ll need to replace them as soon as the tread gets to the minimum depth. If you wait until the next inspection before replacing them, you increase your risk of having a crash or receiving a fine.

How often do I need a WoF for my car?

The frequency of WoF inspections is based on the age of your vehicle. Vehicles first registered anywhere in the world on or after 1 January 2000 need annual WoF inspections during their lifetime, according to NZTA.

For a new vehicle, after its initial inspection that ensures you can drive it off the dealer’s forecourt, another WoF isn’t required until the third anniversary of its first registration, whether this occurred in New Zealand or overseas. NZTA has full details.


Where do I go for vehicle inspections?

There are around 3200 WoF agents in New Zealand. Have a look online in the Yellow Pages to find your nearest agent.

When is it illegal to drive a vehicle without a WoF?

  • If it doesn’t meet WoF requirements
  • If it doesn’t display a valid WoF label

The exception: you can drive your vehicle on the road under the two circumstances listed above only when taking it somewhere for repair, or to get a new WoF – providing it’s safe to do so.

What does a warrant inspection cover?

The WoF inspection is a general safety check. It covers:

  • Tyre condition (including tread depth)
  • Brake operation
  • Structural condition (rust is not allowed in certain areas)
  • Lights
  • Glazing (is your windscreen safe?)
  • Windscreen washers and wipers
  • Doors (do they open and close safely?)
  • Safety belts (must not be damaged or overly faded; buckles must work properly)
  • Airbags (if fitted)
  • Speedometer (must be working)
  • Steering and suspension (must be safe and secure)
  • Exhaust (there must be no leaks and the exhaust must not be smoky or louder than the original exhaust system)
  • Fuel system (there must be no leaks)

If you’ve modified your car, motorcycle, van or other light vehicle you may need a low volume vehicle certificate.

What it won’t check

A WoF doesn’t include many areas of a vehicle’s condition. For example, it doesn’t check:

  • Engine, clutch, gearbox and differential condition
  • Lubricant levels and condition 
  • Brake pad thickness or life expectancy, unless they are visibly below safe limits 
  • Paint work condition and some rust in non-structural areas

What if my vehicle fails its WoF inspection?

If your vehicle fails a WOF inspection, you won’t be able drive it on the road legally unless you’re taking it somewhere to get it repaired or get a new WoF (and it’s safe to do so). Fix all the items that require attention within 28 days of the initial failed inspection, and your car can be re-inspected by the same place for no additional cost. If you exceed the 28 days from the initial inspection, a new fee and inspection is required.


How much does a WoF cost?

The cost varies depending on the outlet that inspects your vehicle, but they’re usually around $50-$70. 

Do you need car insurance to pass a WoF?

No, you don’t, as having car insurance isn’t a legal requirement in NZ. However, you’re crazy not to insure your vehicle! Think about whether you could afford to pay thousands of dollars if you accidentally hit someone’s car pulling out of a supermarket carpark.

Make sure you’re on the best car insurance deal by shopping around. You can start by looking at Canstar’s ratings and awards, the grid below shows the 5-Star winners in the 30- to 49-year-old driver profile from our 2021 car insurance awards and ratings.

Star Rating



Everyday Plus More Info
Tower Car Insurance Comprehensive More Info
Comprehensive More Info

See here for our ratings methodology. The table above is an abridged version of our research. For the full results of our 2021 Car Insurance Ratings and Award, click here.

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