On the 20th of April, 2020 the NSW Roads and Maritime Services issued Notice #17 to all the engineers accredited under its VSCCS (Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme).
Well, we say "notice", but really, it was more of a bomb, one which instantly destroyed the legality of a number of GVM upgrade products on the market.
Notice 17 says that:
Increasing axle mass [axle maximum load ratings] above the first stage manufacturer's rating is ONLY PERMITTED [their emphasis] when providing:
This notice is to clarify future and existing modifications based on [VSB 16 and 6] which have been in place since February 2006".
So let’s clarify what a GVM upgrade is, and why Notice 17 is important.
What is a GVM upgrade?
Your vehicle has a maximum permitted weight, known as the GVM or Gross Vehicle Mass, for example 3000kg. It also has an unladen weight, for example 2000kg.
The payload is the difference between the two, so 3000-2000=1000kg of payload. That's what you've got for not only yourself and your family, but every modification on the vehicle from bullbar to UHF antenna.
The problem is that today's payloads are around 600 to 800kg for wagons, maybe up to 1000kg for utes and that's not enough. Hence, GVM upgrades replace various components - normally just the suspension - and re-rate the vehicle from a 3000kg GVM to 3400kg, so you'd then have 1400kg of payload and be able to legally carry more weight.
Aside from the GVM, every vehicle has a maximum weight rating for the front and rear axle. The combined limit of the two axles is always equal to, or more than the GVM to allow a bit of front/rear load distribution. So in our example above, the front axle might be rated to 1450kg, and the rear 1650kg, total 3100kg, with a GVM of 3000kg. A GVM "axle-sum" upgrade just takes the GVM to the sum of the two axles, not a lot more than standard, so in that case, 3100kg.
Before GVM Upgrade
On the other hand, you can re-rate, or upgrade the axles. If that's done, then you can get much bigger GVM increases, in our example maybe 3400kg. Let’s say the axles in our example were re-rated from 1450kg to 1650kg for the front, and 1650 to 1800kg for the rear - the total of the two is now 3450kg, and the GVM might be set at 3400kg, a handy increase over the 3000kg standard.
After GVM Upgrade
You can learn all about GVM upgrades by watching this video: (Link opens in new window)
So what does Notice 17 mean for you, the 4X4 owner?
It means that in NSW, the only GVM upgrade you can now get is an axle-sum upgrade if the vehicle is upgraded after first registration, known as “post-rego GVM upgrade”.
Pre-registration GVM upgrades for brand new vehicles that haven't ever been registered are federally approved and not subject to NSW legislation, for now.
The only way around the new post-rego GVM upgrade is to replace the axles, which is possible for some vehicles such as the LC200 or LC70. The other option given - evidence from the first-stage manufacturer, is never going to happen - the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Ford will never re-rate their own axles for the benefit of the aftermarket. The third option is to buy a new vehicle.
This ruling also means that vehicles upgraded interstate lose that GVM upgrade status when they are transferred into NSW registration. And, if NSW has re-interpreted laws that way, could it be that other states will follow, as the VSB 6 document they refer to is a federal standard.
What worries us is the word 'existing', and the pointed reference to existing standards - could this mean that every current upgrade is de-registered? There would be a lot of very upset people if that was the case, who paid good money for vehicle modifications, watch this space.
Are you frustrated by all these regulations? Do you just want a vehicle that is legal, safe and fit for purpose? Talk to us, that's literally our job.
MORE 4X4 doesn't do fit-and-forget builds, and we won't build something that isn't compliant to the regulations. There are ways and means to create a 4X4 tourer within GVM limits, such as:
My visceral fibres are tingling at the thought of what’s to come. Is it too early to speculate on the future of pre-rego GVM upgrades because it sure looks like this document is the cancerous beginning of the end of all “suspension only” GVM upgrades
Contact us today to talk about what you want to achieve with your 4X4, and leave the worrying about regulations to us!