Maintaining your car

Got wheels? Make sure your car is always in good condition by having a current warrant of fitness (WoF) and carrying out regular safety checks.

Warrant of fitness (WoF)

WoF’s are an important way of making sure all vehicles on our roads are safe.

To get a WoF you’ll need to take your car to an approved WoF inspector. They’ll check your vehicle is roadworthy based on its condition at the time of inspection.

The WoF inspector will check many parts of your car including the tyres, brakes, steering, exhaust, seat belts, indicators and headlights.

Once they’ve completed their check, they’ll either issue a WoF or tell you what needs to be fixed.

How often you need to renew a WoF depends on how old your vehicle is (ie when it was first registered in any country).

If your vehicle is:

  • Brand new (never been registered): WoF is issued for 3 years
  • Less than 2 years old: WoF is issued up to the car’s 3rd anniversary of when it was first registered
  • More than 2 years, but less than 3 years: WoF is issued for 12 months
  • First registered on or after 1 January 2000: WoF is issued for 12 months
  • First registered before 1 January 2000: WoF is issued for 6 months

Keeping your car up to standard

Even if your car has a current WoF, that doesn’t always mean it’s 100% safe or roadworthy. Remember the WoF is issued based on your car’s condition at the time it was last inspected.

It’s up to you to maintain your car in between WoF checks – otherwise you could get fined.

Use the safety checks below to help keep your car up to standard, and if you notice any changes get them looked at straight away.

Basic safety checks

There are some basic safety checks you can do to make sure your car is always OK to drive.

These focus on five key areas. You can remember them easily by thinking of the word ‘TWIRL’.

TWIRL stands for Tyres, Windscreen, Indicators, Rust, Lights.

You should perform the following checks once a month or before you go on a long journey:


  • Check tread depth. The minimum legal depth is 1.5mm. But the more tread you have, the better the grip and the safer you’ll be.
  • Test tyre pressure. You can usually find the correct tyre pressure levels for your car on the drivers inside door frame.
  • Look for cracks or bubbles in the sides of the tyres.
  • Look for sharp objects stuck in the tyres.


  • Check your windscreen wiper blades for damage.
  • Clean your mirrors and windscreen inside and out.
  • Get your windscreen fixed or replaced if it’s chipped or cracked
  • Check your windscreen washer tank is full and the spray is working.


  • Turn your hazard lights on and walk around the car.
  • Check that all indicators are flashing and working correctly.


Look for areas of rust. This can make the car’s body weaker and less able to protect you in a crash.


  • Check your headlights, reversing lights and brake lights are working and that they aren’t dirty, cracked or hazy.
  • If any of your lights are damaged or not working, get them fixed straight away.

Checking under the bonnet

You should also look under your bonnet at least once a month to check the fluid levels and for any obvious problems.

Things to check:

  • Engine oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power-steering fluid
  • Windscreen washer fluid
  • Condition and tension of belts
  • Look for any leaks around the engine

If you’re not comfortable doing this, it’s a good idea to get someone to help the first few times so you can learn what to look for.