Retirees could need to buy bigger trucks
There is growing concern that nomads will be forced into larger pickup trucks as dual-cab utes and wagons are no longer usable for towing large caravans.
The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association says it is working to lift a ban handed down from the Federal Government that prevents independent workshops from increasing gross combination vehicle mass.
New laws introduced in June 2018 prevent second stage manufacturers – workshops modifying vehicles with engineered suspension and tow kits – from being able to change a vehicle’s original specified GCM.
Increasing the GCM allows vehicles to legally tow a heavier load than stipulated from the manufacturer. Some owners of vehicles are unaware that loaded goods – such as people, pets and equipment – all add up to the GCM. Where the caravan is too heavy, it requires an upgrade in GCM through the use of revised suspension and hitch to be within the legal limit.
As it stood prior to June 2018, certain aftermarket specialists were selling kits to increase both a vehicle’s gross vehicle mass (payload the car can carry when not towing) and GCM. This has been particularly useful for drivers wanting to tow heavy caravans that blow out the maximum GCM on popular cars such as the Ford Ranger and Everest, Toyota HiLux and Landcruiser, and the Isuzu D-Max and MU-X.
It forces nomads to consider other options such as large American pickup trucks or getting a smaller caravan, or otherwise running the risk of towing illegally.
The move has seen retirees lose thousands of dollars according to Simon Crane, director of suspesion specialists Lovells. The company was one of the only specialists that would increase GCM as a secondary stage manufacturer in Australia, but Crane says it’s all coming to a head as individual State Government realise it’s putting drivers into cars that they are uncomfortable driving. It will also present an issue for Government fleets that Lovells has previously upgraded GCM for, including specialist police forces and CFA vehicles.
“This has been bubbling away for some time,” Crane told Drive. “They justify the move as road safety but disregard any consequences such as retirees having to drive larger pickups that they are not comfortable with.”
“Some don’t tow more than 20 or 30 days a year and they use those tow vehicles in our urban landscape – normally cars like a Toyota HiLux or a Ford Ranger that we already thought were big. But now it will be even bigger American style pickup trucks, and they are massive.
“It is unfair on people who spend a lot of money on a big caravan and new car to tow it when it turns out they no longer can. It doesn’t matter if we put two axles and reinforcements in there.”
Crane says that each state is wavering on its position, with Victoria confirming last week it will no longer modify state registered vehicle GCMs while NSW and Western Australia are both allegedly agreeing that they would prefer to see people driving cars they are more comfortable with, as long as they have been correctly modified.
“We’d be the first to hear about it – if someone had an accident with one of our existing modified vehicles – and we haven’t in 17 years,” added Crane.
“Police squads, CFA, fire fleet, mounted police – they all use our kits to increase GCM. Once we’ve pointed out that they can’t do that anymore they’re scratching heads.”
However, Crane admits testing of modified suspension and components to increase GCM is haphazard, with no global standard testing regime in place, not even in Europe or Japan where many of the popular towing vehicles come from.
But the early beginnings of an Australian certification program are being led by the AAAA, made up by a group of specialists including Lovells.
According to AAAA director, Stuart Charity, modifying the GCM is not as simple as upgrading the GVM, but he reiterated that customers can still upgrade their GVM for better payload.
“Re-rating the GCM shouldn’t be straightforward, changing it has more impact than GVM to the suspension and handling,” he told Drive.
“We rang VicRoads in regard to its Circular [notice] last week about GCM and wanted to make sure they didn’t shut the door on modifying GVM with suspension upgrades, either pre- or post-registration. It’s unchanged.
“But they can’t use [record] second stage manufacturer GCM upgrades anymore. We’re hopeful we can make it possible with some sort of industry testing, but we need to be mindful and realistic of the costs commercially. The State wants leadership on this particular topic and a good steering company.”
As Drive understands, a national standard to test and comply GCM upgrades is still in its infancy and currently dictated by the high costs involved. However, GVM upgrades, available from most common four-wheel-drive aftermarket specialists, are still available in every state.
via The Motor Report https://www.themotorreport.com.au/rss