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Modification Rules Most Australian States

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Modification Rules Most Australian States

Postby Blakey » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:10 pm

Vehicle Modifications

The Handbook for Common Modifications

* Aftermarket Wheels
* Lowering
* Exhausts
* Pod Filters
* Steering Wheels
* Lighting
* Complex Modifications
* Local Guides

We all know that when owning a car, we all want to add a personalised touch. For some it’s simply adding seat covers, some fluffy dice and an air freshener, for others it’s a little more involved, be it adding aftermarket wheels and a body kit, to souping up the performance of the engine. When carrying it modifications however, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations that govern what you can and can’t do to your car. By making sure your vehicle complies with your local rules and regulations, it will save your time, hip pocket and in some cases, a court hearing, from defect notices.

It is important to know that these are only summaries on the legalities, and in most only applies specifically to cars. There are differences in laws between cars (or car derivatives), off-road passenger vehicles, or commercial vehicles. They also use the specific laws of QLD, however courtesy of the framework for Australian Road Rules, Australian Design Rules and National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and Modification, for most parts they are similar across the country. If instances where there are differences, these have been noted, particularly for NSW and VIC. For those outside those States, sorry, but that's what happens when you live in the least populated areas! So let us begin;

Aftermarket Wheels
QLD - Maximum wheel size – Rolling diameter cannot increase more than 15+mm/-26mm
NSW and VIC - Maximum wheel size – Rolling diameter cannot increase more than 15+mm/-15mm

It’s no secret that most car manufacturers look for functionality and low cost when they put wheels on cars. They’re designed to go round and round, and not add style, so the most common modification performed is adding aftermarket wheels. With such a huge variety of wheels available, it’s important that the rim and tyre choice you make is the correct one.

Now to make sure you make the legal choice of rim and tyre combination, you need to know the stock combination. If your car still has standard wheels fitted, you can simply look at the tyre and find the size written on. If not, your car should have a tyre placard fitted, this is usually on the inside of the driver’s door, or inside the glove box. You’re looking for a number combination of ###/##/##, for example, 195/60/R14.

To continue further, you need an understanding of what the numbers and letter mean. As a brief summary;

14 denotes the rim diameter measured using the imperial system (i.e. 14”).
195 is the section width. It indicates the width of the tyre at it’s widest point in millimetres (mm)
60 is the aspect ratio. It indicates the profile (or tyre wall height) as a percentage of the width, so 60% of 195 equals a tyre wall height of 117mm.
R stands for radial construction. It’s not of much importance as most tyres are constructed this way.
V is the speed rating of the tyre. Different types of tyres have different speed ratings (maximum speed they can safely support).
Finally 87 is the load rating index. It’s a numerical code associated with the maximum load a tyre can carry.

The final figure you need to know is the overall rolling diameter. This can be calculated using the following;
RD = 2 x (60% of 195) + 14” x 25.4mm
RD = 234 + 355.6
RD = 589.6mm

Alternatively, you can simply use a good tyre calculator such as http://www.alloywheels.com/tyrecalc.asp

For more specific information you can visit http://www.carbibles.com/tyre_bible.html

So now we know what everything means, we can look at the legalities.

To start with, contrary to common belief, there is NO such thing as the 2” rule (i.e. Cannot have rims more than 2” over stock size).

The law works by looking at the rolling diameter, and nothing else. It states that you cannot increase the rolling diameter by more than 15mm than stock, or decrease the rolling diameter by more than 26mm, otherwise referred to as +15mm/-26mm. This means you can put as big sized rims as you want, provided you can find tyres thin enough. Ultimately, the closest rolling diameter you can get to the stock figure the better.

Changes in rolling diameter actually have an adverse affect on your speedometer. Increase the RD, and your speedo reads lower than you’re actually travelling. Decrease the RD, and your speedo reads higher than you’re actually travelling. This means you can be speeding without knowing it, and you’ll have to wear the fine if you get caught.

A decent tyre calculator http://www.alloywheels.com/tyrecalc.asp can help you figure out the best tyre size. A tyre shop should also have a book that gives options for tyre sizes and can assist you in making the right choice.

It is also important to note several other restrictions regarding wheels. Firstly, each axle must be fitted with the same tyre and wheel size, including rolling diameter, width and offset. Secondly, you cannot increase wheel width by more than 1.3 times the manufacturer’s widest optional tyre. Thirdly, tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.5mm on any part of the tyre that touches the ground, although it’s recommended to replace tyres prior to reaching this depth. For tyres, they must meet or exceed the load rating listed on the tyre placard, as should the speed rating.

Note that it is ILLEGAL to replace light truck tyres fitted by the manufacturer with a passenger tyre (unless the tyre placard states otherwise). Passenger tyres do not have the correct load rating capacities to meet the loads the vehicle can carry as stated by the manufacturer. This includes most 2WD utilities/utes.

Legal Minimum Height – 100mm
Remove no more than 1/3 of suspension travel

Following new wheels, many people move onto lowering their vehicle height. It is important to know that a vehicle must be at least 100mm of the ground, measured from the lowest point on the vehicle (usually the exhaust or a body kit). It’s important to know that this figure should be measured when the vehicle is fully loaded. That means with passengers, luggage and a full tank of fuel. Therefore it’s not recommended to attempt to get your vehicle height as close to 100mm as possible, because as soon as you load up your friends, you’re likely to drop below that limit. Further, you cannot remove or reduce more than one third (1/3) of the working travel of the suspension from its original height.

Maximum dB limit – 90db (or 96dB pre-1982)

Changing the exhaust on a vehicle is also popular. However there are technicalities that can make legality an issue. Generally, the decibel level of an exhaust cannot be more than 90db measured 0.5-0.55m from the exhaust at a 45 degree angle on deceleration from a certain RPM. For vehicles manufactured before 1982, the maximum decibel level is 96db. This is where the technicalities start; altering the exhaust is classed as modifying a silencing device from manufacturer specifications. It is possible to be defected simply for this, even if you are under the limit. However, a sound level test is all that’s required to certify that your altered exhaust still complies with the specifications by proving it still reads under the limit. Attitude is the most likely determinant factor as to whether this is an issue. Aside from noise levels, exhausts must also comply with emissions standards. If a car is manufactured after February 1986, it must have a catalytic converter fitted. This also applies to vehicles with an engine manufactured after this date. Failure to have a cat fitted can result in a hefty fine from the EPA. *refer to Pg 10 of link*

Pod Filters
Properly secured and attached to the car body.
NSW ONLY - Pod filters must be fully enclosed

Another common modification is the removal of stock air box from a car’s air intake and replacing it with a pod filter. There’s lots of misconception regarding the legalities of pod filters. It is legal to replace an air box and panel filter provided the filter is properly attached. This means a proper stainless steel clamp (not zip ties) and a metal piece connecting the filter to the body of the car. It should be noted that in NSW, it’s a requirement for pod filters to be completely enclosed in a box as well as properly secured. However it’s recommended to enclose or shield the filter from the engine bay anyway to prevent the intake sucking in hot engine air.

Steering Wheels
Not smaller than 350mm

It’s no secret that after several years, factory steering wheels can get quite worn and dated, and replacing them with new sportier versions is common. However, once again, certain limitations apply. A steering wheel cannot be reduced by more than 25mm from the factory steering wheel size but must not be less than 350mm*. If a steering wheel is fitted with an airbag, it cannot be replaced or removed with an aftermarket steering wheel. Finally, every car must have a working horn, so having a horn button is also a requirement.

Using foglights when the weather is clear is an offence! Turn them off fogwits!

Adding extra lights or neon’s can bring more attention to your car, but it’s not always wanted. The fitting of under body lights (neon’s or LEDs) or other lights is legal, provided they meet several criteria. For under body lights, they cannot be distracting to other driver’s, this means you cannot see the source of the light. Flashing lights (excluding indicators) are illegal except for emergency vehicles or special vehicles in hazardous situations (usually amber lights on construction vehicles, tow trucks etc). Note the law specifically states that you cannot have lights that 'dazzle'. It is at the discretion of a police officer as to what they believe is distracting or dazzling. Like many police encounters, a poor attitude is likely to change their interpretation of the law.

Colours are also limited. Blue lights cannot be fitted to any vehicle at any time, unless it an emergency vehicle – this includes under body lights, LED washers. parkers or interior neons visible outside the car. White lights can only be visible from the front of the vehicle; red lights can only be visible from the rear of the vehicle. Purple cannot be used due to their use by the Department of Transport. Yellow (or amber) should only be used as clearance markers.

Complex Modifications
Consult your State's road authority and/or an Approved Person before carrying out these modifications

There are some modifications that require specific approval by engineers or ‘Approved Persons’ and the fitting of a modification plate (blue plate in Queensland, engineering certificate in NSW etc). These can include the fitting of aftermarket seats, particular engine conversions, turbocharging or supercharging, brake conversions, major suspension changes, the list goes on.

A full list of the different modification codes and can be viewed here - http://www.roadsmart.com.au/docs/NCOPApprovalCodes.pdf

The National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and Modification has been put in place to create uniform standards through Australia and has been tentatively adopted by each State and Territory. Each NCOP document has information highlighting specifications and requirements for modification approval. However, before considering making any complex modifications, it is important to consult an engineer or Approved Person first to confirm the requirements and specific legalities of each State, as due to the voluntary adoption, there are still minor differences between jurisdictions. For full specifications, visit http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/ ... _ncop.aspx

It will also be important to know that despite having a national set of guidelines, no State or Territory will recognise the modification approval of another State/Territory. This means if you purchase a vehicle from, or move interstate, you will need to get any and all modification approvals done again in the State/Territory you intend to register the vehicle.

For QLD - The Queensland Transport Modification Hotline is your godsend. They have access to the database that lists every Approved Person in the State, and what they can approve (remembering that some are limited into what they can approve). If you attempt to ring the general QT enquiry number, or speak to someone in person, you won't get anywhere. Call (07) 3253 4851 and you will receive the information you need. To make life easier, tell them the Approval Code you need so they can ensure they give you the details of the right person.

Local Guides

As noted earlier, despite a national framework, there are still minor differences in the rules and regulations. The roads authorities for each State and Territory have developed booklets that outline guidelines (similar to this document) that you can use as a quick reference. They are all available from the relevant authority's website, and are as follows;

QLD - http://www.transport.qld.gov.au/resourc ... icles2.pdf

NSW - http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/registration/ ... v_2007.pdf

VIC - http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonl ... 0/VSI8.pdf

SA - http://www.transport.sa.gov.au/personal ... hicles.asp

WA - http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/1412.asp


This document should only be used as a guide and cannot be used as a legal document in a court of law. It should not be treated as any form of legal advice.

Prior to modifications, check local regulations to confirm requirements.

Roadsmart will not be held liable for inaccuracies, jurisdictional differences or changes to laws. This publication was correct as at October 2009.


http://www.roadsmart.com.au/laws/licens ... index.html


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Postby jamez707 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:17 am

good work Blakey +1
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Postby ofey » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:26 am

Yeah great work Blakey! +1 from me too!
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Postby blade888 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:02 am

Nice find mate! Cheers for posting it up! +1
I'll sticky this too as this would answer so many questions members have about keeping thier ride legal after mods.
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Postby scraverX » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:49 am

Blakey wrote:Note that it is ILLEGAL to replace light truck tyres fitted by the manufacturer with a passenger tyre (unless the tyre placard states otherwise). Passenger tyres do not have the correct load rating capacities to meet the loads the vehicle can carry as stated by the manufacturer. This includes most 2WD utilities/utes.

I see this surprisingly frequently in the ACT, 2WD & 4WD Hi-Lux, Mazda ute, Rodeo, et al, with 20-ish" rims and what look like passenger tires. Some of them are clearly tradesmen too as they are often hauling a trailer with matching rims.
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Postby Blakey » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:27 pm

Well i would say if the rim and tire you get put on even passenger tire is rated above the load limit for each tire then it would be fine. as the load limit of the tire is greater then the manufacturer's specified tire load requirement

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