Extensive testing conducted by the Australian 4 Wheel Drive Industry Council (A4WDIC) in the United States earned acceptance from Federal, State and Territory Governments for modifications made under the owner certified section of the National Code of Practice covering alterations to vehicle height.
The A4WDIC is a specialist section of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the national body representing the automotive aftermarket, including manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers of automotive parts and accessories, tools and equipment.
Modifications to 4WD suspension are designed to improve vehicle safety, ground clearance and load capacity, making the vehicle better fit for specific tasks.
The successful test regime on three popular vehicles using suspension kits from Australian suppliers proved that 50mm increases to vehicle height have no adverse impact on the operation of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) unit.
The modified vehicles – 2013 Ford Ranger, 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser and 2015 Jeep Wrangler – were benchmarked against identical non-modified units and no modifications were made to the vehicles’ original equipment ESC systems.
A4WDIC adopted the same test protocols used by all vehicle manufacturers and major component suppliers around the world to simulate vehicle dynamics for the development and testing of new chassis system components, engines, power trains, drivelines, suspension and vehicle electronic control systems.
Technical reports from the A4WDIC tests presented to Federal, State and Territory regulators showed the test vehicles all met Australian Design Rule (ADR) 35 requirements for ESC operation.
A4WDIC Chairman Ray Smith-Roberts said the industry program to dispel the notion that small changes to the ride height of a vehicle have a negative impact on ESC operation is a win for common sense. “We worked closely with the regulators and thank the Federal, State and Territory authorities for their input to this successful project,” said Ray Smith-Roberts.
Aftermarket displays due diligence
In all cases the test results were well within the normal operating capabilities of the vehicles’ ESC systems and ADR 35 requirements. All modified vehicles:
- Easily passed the performance requirements of ADR 35.
- Demonstrated compatibility with the control authority of the OEM electronic stability control system.
- Worked in harmony with the OEM ESC system to prevent rollover potential in the extreme test conditions.
- Did not demonstrate any “nuisance activations” of the ESC system during any test manoeuvres.
“We ensured complete transparency for the test regime by using the ADR as the standard, and using internationally recognised test procedures and testing facilities,” said Ray Smith-Roberts.
“As a result of this A4WDIC initiative, the National Code of Practice has been amended to remove reference to ESC testing requirements from Section LS of Vehicle Standards Bulletin (VSB) 14.
“Thus, we have eliminated the need for additional and redundant testing and cut red tape for Australian businesses and vehicle owners.
“These test results are a great outcome for industries such as agriculture, construction and mining that must modify vehicles to make them fit for purpose for special work duties.
“It is now also much more convenient and economical for private vehicle owners who want to improve the off road capabilities and ground clearance of their vehicles, or safely manage their heavy carrying or towing loads.
“This successful modified vehicle ride height test program is a result of the AAAA’s commitment to due diligence in ensuring the engineering integrity of the products sold by members,” he said.