Duncan Gay, the NSW Roads Minister, has announced (via Facebook) changes to NSW laws that make a 75mm lift legal without engineering certification.
Minister Gay’s announcement on Facebook (see below this article) is a breath of fresh air in that it introduces, some would say for the first time, a clear and practical approach to the legal modification of light vehicles.
The changes announced by Minister Gay are covered by a new document called the Light Vehicle Modifications Manual – Suspension and Ride Height, which isn’t a replacement for the infamous Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14 (VSB14) but is said to address “specific issues and items identified by the Working Group as needing reform”.
Minister Gay noted that “many requirements in the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14 (National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and Modification) were considered too onerous, restrictive, impracticable to apply, or simply unsafe.”
What does it all mean?
Currently in NSW the VSB14 allows a 50mm lift (increase in vehicle height due to suspension and/or tyres), any higher than 50mm will require certification. This limits 4WD owners to the industry average 50mm – or 2” as it’s often referred to – suspension lift and restricts them to standard size tyres.
The new 75mm lift rules will allow a vehicle to be fitted with a 50mm suspension lift kit and tyres that are 50mm larger in diameter than the standard items (only half the increase in the tyre’s diameter affects the height of the vehicle). In general terms, your average 4X4 ute could legally run a 50mm suspension lift and 32” tyres, although it will of course depend on the vehicle make/model and it’s approved standard tyre size(s).
In addition to refining some of the nonsense in VSB14 the new Light Vehicle Modifications Manual provides practical advice on how to correctly determine your vehicle’s ride height, ensuring you have an accurate baseline to work from when planning your suspension and tyre changes.
Why does 25mm makes such a big difference?
Simply because it allows a sensible 50mm suspension lift – which almost all 4WD vehicles will benefit from – in conjunction with a moderate (up to 50mm) increase in tyre height or diameter. Both changes improve ground clearance for different parts of the vehicle and improve off-road ability significantly without – and this is important and needs to be closely looked at when you choose tyres and suspension – negatively affecting the vehicle’s ride or handling. In fact a quality suspension kit will give you the lift you want and provide noticeable ride and handling improvements.
As with most vehicle modifications, there is always a level of compromise in what is achieved. Increases in suspension height can affect the life of suspension and driveline components and while larger diameter tyres – particularly Light Truck (LT) construction tyres – can have significant benefits off-road, they will negatively impact low-range gearing and fuel efficiency to a degree.
Minister Gay’s announcement effectively brings NSW into line with Victoria which also allows 75mm light vehicle lifts, although the two states differ in their requirements to some degree, so it pays to check the fine print.
The Facebook announcement: