Your technical guide to WOF & COFS

By: Bill Savidan


Motorhome reviewer Bill Savidan gives us some tips on the differences between WOFs and COFs

Certificates of Fitness (COFs) and Warrants of Fitness (WOFs) are regular assessments of the mechanical condition of your vehicle to ensure it meets the minimum required safety standards and is therefore safe to drive on New Zealand roads. Whether you need a WOF or COF depends on the weight and purpose of your vehicle. 

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Always ensure your motorhome is well-maintained

WOF

A WOF is an assessment for passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 3500kg or less. How often you will need a WOF depends on when your vehicle was first registered.

Date of first registration Life of WOF
New vehicle not yet registered Three years

Less than two years ago

Issued until the RV’s third anniversary of its first registration

More than two years ago, but less than three years ago

12 months

On or after 1 January 2000

12 months

Before 1 January 2000

6 months

COF

A COF is for vehicles that weigh more than 3500kg - typically these are heavy trucks, large trailers and fifth-wheelers, and large motorhomes. Commercial passenger vehicles of any GVW, taxis and rental cars also require a COF. Your vehicle COF needs renewing every six months.

Depending on the size and type of vehicle (single axle, tandem axle, fifth wheel, or caravan), there are up to 17 separate aspects that will be checked. COFs can only be issued by official vehicle-testing stations. Any vehicle that is subject to a COF will also be required to pay road-user charges. The higher the GVW, the more it costs.

What does a warrant/certificate inspection cover?

The inspection is a general safety check. For full details on what must be checked, visit the WOF and COF page at vehicleinspection.nzta.govt.nz

The following is a simple list of basics worth checking before taking your vehicle for its inspection:

  • Lights: Check that these are in good working condition, including indicators, brake lights, park lights, and headlights in both dipped and high beams.
  • Wipers: Make sure these are working properly and that the windscreen-washing function is operational. Check that when you use the wipers and liquid that your window is left clean and smear-free.
  • Seatbelts: These should be in good working condition and free from tears or rips. 
  • Tyre pressure and tread: Check that your tyres are in a roadworthy condition and are pumped to the correct pressure.
  • Clutter: Your inspector will appreciate a vehicle that is free from clutter, which will inhibit his/her ability to give it a thorough check.

Where do I get a WOF or COF?

WOFs can be issued by approved garages or by testing stations. Note that only approved testing stations can issue COFs.

How long does it take?

A WOF check should take around 15 minutes while a COF can take twice that.

What will it cost?

There is no standard charge for a WOF or COF. Each testing station or garage sets its own price. Typical fees for a two-axle 7000mm motorhome are $60 for a WOF and $170 for a COF. 

Other points to note

  • Inspections are carried out to ensure vehicles are roadworthy. All inspectors, whether in garages or testing stations, work from the same checklists and follow the same set of rules to ensure the same checking standard applies across the country.
  • Surprisingly, quite a high percentage of vehicles (about 40 per cent) fail their WOF inspection first time around. Usually, small defects are the problem, lights and windscreen wipers in particular. If the defects are remedied and the vehicle is re-presented to the same testing facility within 28 days, the re-check is carried out free of charge.
  • If a police officer suspects a vehicle is not roadworthy, it could be ordered off the road immediately (stickered). The vehicle will then need to be transported home or to a place of repair on a trailer.
  • Even though you may have a current WOF/COF, the tried-and-true precautions still prevail. Keep your brakes in good condition, check your tyre inflation regularly, don’t overload your RV, and drive to the conditions.
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There is no standard charge for a WOF or COF

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