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Thread: A guide to consumers about modifying a vehicle & their rights

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Kilsyth, VIC
    Users Country Flag

    A guide to consumers about modifying a vehicle & their rights

    This topic can be hotly debated and there are many many differing opinions and answers offered.

    Let me start this with a disclaimer that you should not take any of this information as legal advice nor specific advice to any particular situation you may find yourself in. This information is pulled together from many different resources, referenced where possible which may aid you in finding the relevant official group who can give advice.

    While it’s not the intent to cover servicing in this thread, it is worth mentioning at least in passing.
    The Trade Practices Act prevents the practice of exclusive dealing by attaching conditions to the sale of goods that restrict the buyers freedom of choice to deal with whom or in what they choose.
    Essentially this means that a vehicle manufacturer cannot specify that you must have your car serviced by a particular dealer or group of dealers as part of the warranty conditions.
    Nor can a manufacturer void a warranty simply because a vehicle owner has chosen to have a vehicle serviced outside the dealer network.
    A vehicle manufacturer can however refuse a warranty claim where there is evidence of lack of maintenance, inappropriate work practices or where a non-genuine replacement part has failed or caused other damage.
    Source: Compare Dealer and Non-dealer Car servicing | Motoring | RACQ
    So as long as you use a licensed repairer and they use appropriate parts and fluids, oil for example must meet VW’s 504.00/507.00 standard, you shouldn’t have a problem with warranty.
    A great reference is here: Volkswagen Oil Standards – lists of all approved oils – Skoda – Audi – Seat |

    With Volkswagen’s (and Audi’s and Skoda’s) it’s highly recommended that you choose a specialist rather than your local service station, but in either case you should be fine.

    NOTE: If you do use someone other than a dealer (and even if you do use the dealer network) it can be well worth keeping all your receipts proving the work was done at the appropriate times AND what fluids/parts were used. There have been reports of dealers requesting evidence that serving was done prior to approving warranty claims, something which is not unreasonable.

    In simple terms modifications do not automatically void the entirety of your warranty. Essentially, if there is a failure that occurs only as a result of what you have done to the vehicle, it would not be covered by warranty. If the failure would have occurred anyway, it is covered by warranty… and here is where it starts to get more complex.

    Any modifications give the manufacturer a possible “out” against your warranty claim if they can reasonably attribute any failure to your modifications. If the modification has nothing to do with the defect then they have no grounds to invalidate the warranty.

    For example if you were to put a bigger turbo in the car and tune it to within in inch of it’s life and the power window switch fails at 3 months old it should still be covered by warranty. But if one of the pistons lets go it would be very easy to for the dealer to point at the performance improvements as the root cause.

    While it has been said it’s up to the manufacturer to prove it was the fault of the modification rather than a faulty part, the reality is if they make that decision it is then up to you to prove it really was their faulty part and not your modifications, something which isn't a simple task.

    ECU Tuning
    As above, ECU tuning does not automatically void your warranty, but it does give the dealer something to point at and blame for the fault. Again, if it's that window switch that fails you are still covered.

    All else aside, by misrepresenting the nature and extent of both the dealer voluntary warranty and the statutory warranty, the dealer and its representatives are arguably in breach of civil and criminal provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act. These breaches involve substantial penalties for both corporate bodies (and individuals ($220,000 per offence) involved.

    Government Bodies:

    Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association
    Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association

    Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
    ACCC Home

    NSW Department of Fair Trading
    NSW Fair Trading: Homepage
    Repairs and maintenance - NSW Fair Trading

    Consumer Affairs Victoria
    Consumer Affairs Victoria - Consumer Affairs Victoria

    NOTES: I will update this post with any new relevant information as it comes to hand. If you have a link or something you would like to have included, please let me know.

    If it has an engine or heartbeat it's going to cost you. | Getflix

  2. #2
    Aaron, I think this could belong in this section? - We often get asked about performing "illegal" modification. Consumers (and professionals) need to understand the risk. Like decat, water / meth systems, DPF removals etc. So it falls under the same heading.

    An important note about removing catalytic converters (decat) or DPF (diesel particulate filter) and breaking the law. The "persons" liable for the fine can be the owner of the vehicle and / or anyone involved in the modification of the vehicle

    The Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Act)
    requires various parties – including designers,
    manufacturers, sellers, owners and drivers – to do or
    not do certain things with respect to air and noise
    emissions from motor vehicles. These requirements
    are spelt out in more detail in the Environment
    Protection (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2003
    (the Regulations). Both the Act and the Regulations
    state that anyone who fails to comply with a
    requirement is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty, with the maximum penalty for the most
    serious offences being 240 penalty units (over
    Water Methanol / alternate fuel systems.

    Water injection or Water / Methanol injection are only legal when the installation complies with ADR 17 & is engineer certified in the state where the vehicle is registered.

    You should check with your insurance company on the validity of this particular modification & if they will cover it. As it is an alternate fuel system, there is a fire risk.

    Calling it a "water injection" system will not allow it to pass engineering (certainly in QLD, NSW, VIC or ACT).

    You can not mount a tank internally in a vehicle (where it has access to the passenger compartment), the tank must comply also to all the ADR requirements.

    Link to ADR 17 -

    These are a summary of the laws & acts which govern these topics. If anyone wants an individual discussion, we can open a thread in the "Tuning" forum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Users Country Flag
    Hi folks. In Sunny Queensland I have just heard that the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads have legislated (see this link Safety (Department of Transport and Main Roads) and Light vehicle modifications (Department of Transport and Main Roads)) under Light Vehicle standards and modifications that all Blue Plate modifications have to be finalised by 30 April 2013.

    'To ensure a smooth move to the NCOP, the department has allowed for a 6 month transition period. This means that until 30 April 2013, modifications to light vehicles that had commenced before the NCOP was introduced, can still be certified under the existing Code of Practice: Light Motor Vehicles.

    Please note: From 1 May 2013, the Code of Practice: Light Motor Vehicles will no longer be an approved code of practice for vehicle modifications, and no Approved Person will have approval to issue certifications under this code of practice.'

    It appears that the Qld Police will have the power to determine that your car has been modified and you have to prove otherwise in a Court of Law. What a litigios society we have become! No one can trust anyone else and under the premise that Government is protecting its citizens, will treat you as guilty until you prove your innocent.

    Therefore according to NCOP your car has to be verified as EOM entirely, even if the modification uses OEM parts?
    Anyone know anything about NCOP and have some further information to enlighten us about this NCOP change and Blue Plate ceasation? Or this old news? Not very cheerful news really.
    Cheers Al

  4. #4
    I'm sure most Brisbane car enthusiasts are aware of the big "STING" that took place last weekend where hundreds of vehicles attending a well organised meet were targeted.

    There were several hundred enthusiasts defected, and the ones that fall under topics discussed regularly that put vehicles off the road were:

    Water / methanol injection systems
    Carbon fibre hoods
    Lowered cars
    Wheel size & offset
    Window tint

    So beware - there are many, many enthusiasts (including VW people) going through the expensive exercise this week of un-modifying their vehicles for full DOT inspections.

    An open letter to the Premier | Downshift

    An open letter to the Premier | Downshift

  5. #5
    Great information. Thanks for sharing the helpful information.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    upper coomera Qld
    Users Country Flag

    Iv been looking for a Bi turbo kit for my 03 Vw Bora v6 iv been struggling to find one do you guys have any opinions or links and prices


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