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The mystery of aftermarket parts regulation in Australia clarified – Rail, Road & Cycling

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The manufacturing, distribution and installation of aftermarket
automotive parts reportedly contributes over $25 billion to the
Australian economy.
[1]
Despite this, the laws governing the standards and
certification applicable to these aftermarket parts can be
difficult to piece together. This may be due to the fact that the
legislation and regulations are currently in a state of transition,
leading to some grey areas regarding which are applicable, and to
what extent they must be complied with.

So, what does this mean for you? Whether you are a consumer of
aftermarket products, a manufacturer, a distributer, or a parts
installer, it is important that you have a comprehensive
understanding of the standards that these parts must meet, and the
potential ramifications should the parts not meet them. The answer
to this question is not as simple as it perhaps should be. This
article will provide a brief overview of the current laws and
regulations on aftermarket parts in Australia, and how they
interact with each other.

The supply of aftermarket parts fitted to motor vehicles in
Australia is governed by a mix of Federal, State and Territory
legislation and regulations.

Federal Legislation

The Federal legislation governing the sale of new motor vehicles
in Australia is currently in a transition period, which is set to
end on 30 June 2023.
[2]
The Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (Cth)
and the associated Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019 (Cth)
are to replace the superseded Motor Vehicle Standards Act
1989
(Cth). While this Federal legislation does
require that new motor vehicles, or motor vehicles being imported
to Australia for the first time, comply with the Australian Design
Rules (ADRs), there is no requirement for
aftermarket parts supplied for use in used cars to comply with
these rules or be certified under this Act. This position differs
to the requirements under the State and Territory legislation as
discussed below.

State and Territory Legislation

Each State and Territory has its own specific legislation and
regulations regarding the supply and sale of aftermarket automotive
parts, all of which require modified vehicles to continue to comply
with the relevant ADRs after modification. Additionally, each State
and Territory has its own standards that it imposes on vehicles
both before and after modification, such as roadworthiness.

We have compiled a list of the relevant legislation/regulations
in each State and Territory:




















State Legislation/Regulations
Queensland v Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle
Standards and Safety) Regulation 2021
(Qld)

v Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Vehicle
Registration) Regulation 2021
(Qld)


v Queensland Road Vehicle Modification Handbook

New South Wales v Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation
2017
(NSW)
Victoria v Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2021 (VIC)
South Australia v Road Traffic (Light Vehicle Standards) Rules 2018
(SA)
Australian Capital Territory v Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation
2000
(ACT)
Western Australia v Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014 (WA)
Tasmania v Vehicle and Traffic (Vehicle Standards) Regulations
2014
(TAS)
Northern Territory v Motor Vehicles (Standards) Regulations 2003
(NT);

v Motor Vehicles (Standards) Regulations – Australian
Vehicle Standards Rules
(NT).

Note that this is merely an overview of the legislation and
regulations that we believe are relevant, and is not intended to be
an exhaustive list of the legislation and regulations that must be
considered.

ADRs

The ADRs are the national technical standards for automotive
vehicle safety in Australia. They have been adopted by each State
and Territory, and as such each vehicle must comply with these
rules to remain registered and roadworthy in Australia. There are
two editions of the ADRs currently in-force, the Second and Third
Edition. Which edition is applicable will depend on the date of
manufacture for the vehicle in question.

It is important to note that the Second Edition of the ADRs
applies to vehicles manufactured from 1 January 1969. From 1 July
1988, the Third Edition of the ADRs were phased in. Not all of the
Third Edition ADRs were applicable from this time, some were not
brought into effect until 1991 and 1992.

The ADRs are split into several different standards, each
focusing on a different aspect of the vehicle. Examples of these
include the steering system, lighting, external noise and mirrors.
In making a determination as to which ADR is applicable to a
specific product or vehicle, it is essential that each ADR is
reviewed carefully. If aftermarket parts, or motor vehicles do not
comply with the relevant ADRs, they may be deemed unroadworthy and
liable to be de-registered. Additional penalties such as fines may
also be imposed by the relevant regulatory authority.

National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and
Modification (VSB 14)

The National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and
Modification (VSB 14) is a set of guidelines for the modification
and construction of light vehicles in Australia. It was developed
by the Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board Working Party
to ensure that light vehicles modified or constructed in Australia
are safe, reliable, and compliant with the ADRs.

In most of the States and Territories, the VSB 14 is not a
mandatory regulation, but it is considered to be best practice and
widely accepted as an industry standard. Despite this some States
and Territories have adopted the VSB 14 as a mandatory requirement
in the roadworthy inspection process. This means that vehicles must
comply with the VSB 14 guidelines in order to pass the roadworthy
inspection and be registered for use on the road. Even so, it is an
important guide for businesses and individuals who construct or
modify light vehicles in Australia, as well as for vehicle testing
and certifying organisations, providing a clear and consistent
approach for the light vehicle industry. The VSB 14 is also a
‘living’ document and it is regularly reviewed and updated
by the Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board Working Party
in consultation with industry experts.

Australian Consumer Law

The Australian Consumer Law as set out in schedule 2 to the
Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)
(ACL) is applicable to most goods and services
sold to consumers in Australia, including the sale of aftermarket
motor vehicle parts. They provide a very broad set of protections
to consumers, including consumer guarantees (e.g. products must be
for the purpose for which they are commonly supplied and free from
defects, products must comply with safety standards, etc.) that
cannot be excluded at law.
[3]
Additionally, the ACL requires that goods be of acceptable
quality, that they match any descriptions provided by the seller,
and that they come with clear and accurate information about their
composition and use. There are a number of remedies afforded to
consumers for breach of the ACL, including, among other things,
compensation for damages, recission of the contract, infringement
notices or injunctions.

Heavy Vehicles

A heavy vehicle is a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass or
Aggregate Trailer Mass of more than 4.5 tonnes.
[4]
Heavy Vehicles in Australia are governed by a separate set
of guides and regulations. These are not covered in this article.
If you would like further advice on the contents of this article or
advice on the relevant regulations for heavy vehicles in
Australia.

Footnotes

1 Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association
(aaaa.com.au)

2 Motor Vehicle Standards laws | Department of
Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and
the Arts

3 Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission, https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees)

4 s 6 Heavy Vehicle National Law
(Qld).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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