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Old 4th September 2017, 01:13 AM
Bridgestone Bridgestone is offline
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Default 4WD Modifications and the Legalities Involved


These days, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to modifying a 4WD. Whether you want something custom, or an off the shelf item, you have more options than ever before. However, many accessories available can make your 4WD illegal so itís important to shop smart and do your research.

You can walk into most 4WD shops and order yourself a 5 inch lift kit, have it installed and drive away with no questions asked. Your 4WD would be completely illegal and you may be none the wiser, until the local policeman pulls you up. There is a huge lack of knowledge around 4WD modifications and people are being caught out unaware.

Itís a shame that shops can install illegal gear on your 4WD. Not all will however; some will let you know, some will even refuse to do it. The advice provided here is based on my own experiences modifying my personal 4WD in WA.

I recommend that you refer to the guidelines as set out by your state.

QLD | NSW | SA | ACT | WA


What Changes Can Make my 4WD Illegal?

If youíve changed your tyre size, suspension height or wheel track, your vehicle could be deemed illegal; itís worth taking the time to make sure itís within the boundaries as soon as possible.

Tyre Size

Every 4WD comes with a standard set of tyres, as designed by the manufacturer. Youíll usually find the placard on the inside of the driverís door. You can fit larger tyres than what is on the placard, but it must be within the local regulations. In WA, a 50mm bigger diameter tyre is as much of an increase as you will get without going down the path of engineering.

Lift Kits

Body lifts and suspension lifts are also limited in height, varying from state to state. In WA, you can only lift the roof of your vehicle 50mm total, in combination of suspension lift, body lift and tyres. Effectively, you are limited to a 50mm bigger tyre and 25mm suspension lift without engineering. How many 4WDs do you think exceed that?

Wheel Track

There are limitations to what you can do to your wheel track too. Although a set of 50Ēwheels and a big, wide tyre might look good, it may not be legal. Wheel spacers are illegal for on road use, so stay clear of them.


Whatís so Important About having a Legal 4WD?

If you think that being pulled over by the police and given a hard time is as serious as it gets, youíd be wrong; the consequences can be much more serious than that.

Complete Vehicle Inspections

If you are pulled over by the police, often they will make you get a full vehicle inspection. In WA, they will put a yellow sticker on your windscreen, which gives you a specified time frame to have your vehicle run over the roadworthy pits and passed, or you canít drive it on the road anymore.

Pit inspections are often a real pain, as they will look at every single aspect of your 4WD to ensure it is 100% good to go, and not just the reason you may have been pulled up for in the first place. Oil leaks, further modifications that arenít legal and any other damage can result in multiple trips to the pits to get your car re-certified, with costly repairs or changes in between.

Insurance Claim Payout Reductions or Denials

This is one of the more serious problems with driving a vehicle that is not roadworthy. If you take a look at your insurance policy, every PDS worth its salt (Policy disclosure statement) clearly says that you must notify the insurance company of any non-standard modifications, and that you must be driving a roadworthy vehicle.

If you have an accident with a vehicle that is not roadworthy, the first thing the insurance company is going to do is question it. Many people have been left high and dry by insurance companies who walk away from claims.


Unsafe Vehicle

Beyond all this, the laws that limit tyre size, wheel track modifications and suspension lifts are put in place to ensure people drive safe, roadworthy vehicles. You have a responsibility to drive a vehicle that is safe and roadworthy on the road. Some modifications, especially when not done correctly have a severe effect on your vehicles ability to brake, steer and handle safely. Is it worth putting your passengers and those around you at risk for the sake of a couple of modifications?

Contact your Local Authority

If you are unsure of whether your 4WD is legal or not, give your local transport department a call, and find out. Donít rely on information youíve heard from others, or read online; so much of it is not correct, and itís not something you want to mess up.

Join the conversation on Facebook.


By Aaron Schubert

As an avid 4WD owner and photographer, Aaron Schubert lives and breathes the outdoors. When heís not out exploring Australia by 4WD, heís writing about it. Aaron runs 4WDing Australia, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to travel Australia by 4WD.


LINKS:

Bridgestone Australia - www.bridgestonetyres.com.au/

Bridgestone Australia Facebook - www.facebook.com/BridgestoneAU
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Old 4th September 2017, 06:30 AM
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Thanks for this. We have a forum specifically devoted to these things - they are very important IMO.

It's here:

http://www.offroadsubarus.com/forumdisplay.php?f=57
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Old 4th September 2017, 05:57 PM
MiddleAgeSubie MiddleAgeSubie is offline
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I understand the logic behind extensive regulations but as with offroad recovery, they are only so good as their weakest link.

If new drivers are not instructed properly, if there are cars in poor working order on the road, if texting while driving is a mass phenomenon, regulating someone's tire size helps little, especially since it seems to me that the drivers of modified vehicles are often better drivers.

Otherwise, good legislative intent probably only results in paperwork and annoyed people.
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Old 4th September 2017, 07:44 PM
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MAS, in the last 50 odd years, Victoria's death toll on the road has dropped from around 2,000 p.a. to about 350 p.a., in spite of a four fold increase in population and cars plus doubling the average annual per vehicle mileage p.a.

Many causes, but far tighter design rules for cars, compulsory wearing of seat belts, air bags and laws keeping modifications in reasonable check have all played a part. Draconian penalties for drink driving, using mobile phones while in a vehicle and loutish/stupid behaviour have also played some part. Repeat offenders with the latter can have their car crushed without recompense ...

Australians are not allowed to play fast and loose with stupid modifications as you are in the USA. Our road toll reflects all these things, even though our roads are far, far worse than yours.
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Old 5th September 2017, 03:06 AM
MiddleAgeSubie MiddleAgeSubie is offline
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Cars are far safer than 50 years ago. As I said, it is possible to have a functional overall package. However, you cannot possibly have the data to isolate the contribution of the limits on vehicle modifications. There is no way to prove that it makes any difference without accurate and contextualized as well as statistically valid info.

Unlike the cases of worn tires or distracted drivers, it is not at all self-evident that modified vehicles are more dangerous because all that matters is how they are driven. If you put a 6" lift on a truck and try to corner like a Subaru, that won't go well. But if you know what you are doing, you are by no means a danger to anyone. Hard to say that about people in stock generic sedans staring at their phones.

Indeed, if it were true that modifications are such a big issue as to deserve detailed legislation, why are US insurance companies generally willing to accommodate mods? They are WAY more concerned with teenage drivers than lifted Wranglers. Obviously, they have statistics that determine their choices.
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Old 5th September 2017, 03:31 AM
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Too long to go into, but the statistics and data sets have been kept here for over 40 years.

Biggest single contribution to the fall in per head/per road mile was the introduction of compulsory fitting and wearing of three point seat belts, something the USA seems to flatly refuse to do!

You are right that many things contribute to this, but the fact remains that Australia has far worse roads, but a lower per capita/road mile driven road kill than the USA. Higher vehicle safety and handling standards (particularly tip/rollover angles) contribute significantly to this.
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Old 5th September 2017, 05:30 AM
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RB,
Sadly despite all that there are still far too many f...wits behind the wheel.
The 3 basic C`s of driving are often lacking, courtesy, consideration and common sense.
All aided and abetted by the authorities desire to put revenue collection near the top of the pile. A little discretion on behalf of the police might assist but the laws are black and white, no grey areas.
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Old 5th September 2017, 06:05 AM
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Don't start me, Ate. I always fight when in the right.

However I agree about the courtesy etc. can't ever hurt!
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Old 5th September 2017, 05:47 PM
MiddleAgeSubie MiddleAgeSubie is offline
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I am not sure where you are getting your info from. Google says 3Points have been standard in front since the 1960s and mandatory in the back outboard seat since early 2000s.they became required for rear middle seats in 2007. The latter make a difference in car accidents and a small one in truck accidents. You can google the stats.

I wrote specifically about stats relating to crashes caused by mods. I very much doubt these can be easily found. I also doubt they exist since they would be meaningless without context. In order for the regulation of mods to make sense to me, I want to see proof that legally driven vehicles by non-impaired drivers crash more frequently if modified compared to stock. Specifically, modified trucks or Jeeps or whatever is being commonly modified where you live vs stock versions of the same.

If you can show me that Wranglers and trucks with 37" tires are statistically more likely to rear-end somebody or that W and trucks with 4" lifts rollover more often than stock ones while driven within legal speed limits by alert and non-intoxicated drivers, then I will agree.
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