Modifying a Truck

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What you can and cannot do when modifying a truck is often in question. As a Code of Practice, VSB6 has set out clear guidelines on how to modify trucks. Now, times have changed and the code is being renewed, Diesel News has been examining the changes.


For many involved in the trucking industry, the concept of VSB6 is just something quoted when changes to a truck may compromise safety down the track. As a guide to how to modify a truck without weakening the structure, deceasing safety or breaking the law, VSB6 has been the reference point for workshops.


In legal terms, VSB6 is prescribed by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) as the primary standard used by Approved Vehicle Examiners (AVEs) to approve modifications to heavy vehicles. This takes precedence unless the vehicle manufacturer provides adequate instructions, in which case the manufacturer’s instructions are paramount.


As of July 2015, VSB6 has been undergoing a comprehensive review to bring it in line with current methodology and technology. A recent event organised by the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA), gave those involved an opportunity to review the proposed changes and add their own input.


“We have a National Code of Practice and the National Heavy Vehicle Law gives the NHVR power to recognise those practices,” said Peter Hart, ARTSA Chairman. “This isn’t the only one we are going to have. This is a mechanism by which industry can influence outcomes, by developing sensible codes of practice, which are picked up.


“In the vehicle modifications’ domain, we have got so many opportunities to improve things, but a lot of the industry doesn’t recognise obligations and codes. We have a task to contribute to the code, but also to make it known to industry, the modifiers and manufacturers there are obligations, and it is, by the way, a good idea to get an accredited person involved from the start.”


The review of VSB6 is one of the many projects the NHVR has been asked to undertake in the last few years. The whole project is expected to take two years to complete. From the NHVR’s point of view, two documents are at the core of ensure vehicles on the road are fit for purpose. The first is the National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual, which came out last year, and the second is an amended VSB6.


In 2014, when the new National Heavy Vehicle Law kicked in the NHVR took over responsibility for regulating heavy vehicle modifications. There is a three tier system for mods. One is seen as minor mods, like the fitting of accessories to a truck or trailer, these do not have any effect on the vehicle’s compliance with Australian Design Rules and, as a result, do not require certification.