All Woman

Getting the fitness certificate for your car

BY SHARON LEACH All woman writer

Monday, October 27, 2003    

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Ladies, if you're like me, the best part of having a motor vehicle is your foot on the pedal, a full tank of gas and the open road. Everything else to do with the car is a hassle that cuts into personal time which, these days, comes at a premium.

Take, for instance, getting the vehicle passed. The fitness certificate is one of the documents, along with the motor vehicle registration and insurance certificate, which is needed to verify to the police that we have a right to be out there driving on the streets. But how many of us are actually acquainted with the process involved in getting a fitness certificate for our cars?

I wasn't. Well, not until I had to research it for this feature. Like all my girlfriends I've always had someone --a man--who took care of these burdensome details for me.

But in the interest of self-empowerment, let's look at what it takes to get our cars legally fit to be out there on the road.

First, it is important to note that the fitness certificate expires every 14 months. The process of renewing it is twofold. The first leg takes place at the Collector of Taxes. Here is where you go, with your driver's licence and the expired fitness certificate to pay the fitness fee. The cost is $1500 for private motor vehicles. This is a fairly simple process. But let's face it: what we're afraid of, as women, are the man-hours lost at revenue collection agencies in this country. There is a perception, and it is not a baseless one, that the process is long and drawn-out because of the long lines. This, according to an unofficial survey, is the number one reason why many of us will go to the extreme and pay a man, if needs be, to have our vehicles certified for road worthiness. But, with proper organisation, ie, by going to the nearest collectorate early, you can get through rather quickly.

The next step is the actual testing of the vehicle at the Examination Depot. In the corporate area the depot is located at Swallowfield Road. The gates open at 7:30 am and testing (done on a first come, first served basis) begins at 8:30am. You need to bring with you the receipt for the fitness fee purchased at the Collector of Taxes, the old fitness certificate and your registration documents.

The test itself is relatively simple. There is approximately a 20-45 minute wait before the car is called to be driven up a ramp. At this point the vehicle will be checked visually by a qualified agent for properly functioning headlights, hoses and front end components. Then, if no faults are found with these, the car will be driven in the yard in figure eight configurations for a check of the brakes and steering. If no faults are found, a new motor vehicle fitness certifficate will be issued at this point. The overall length of the exam is about 20 minutes.

If faults are found with the vehicle at any point, no new certificate will be issued. A notation, however, will be made on the back of the old fitness certificate and you will be asked to get the problem rectified at your mechanic's, or (in the case of front end problems) an alignment and balancing stand before a new one can be issued. Hence, it is recommended that you take in the car for the fitness examination before the actual expiry date, in case any mechanical problems arise, thus preventing a new certificate from being issued. Note, the car can be checked up to a month before your appointment date, which is the date of expiry on the old certificate.

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