View Full Version : A Guide to the process of getting your car 'Engineered' in South Australia

29th December 2013, 11:57 PM
Hi all. I've had a few people pick my brains about this topic and while answering another thread in the tech sections, my reply became far too expansive and i've ended up with this here.

This is a guide to help remove the mystery, hearsay, misconceptions and the general stigma surrounding getting a modified vehicle registered. It might not be 100% accurate, but it's a pretty damn good account.

Let's get serious for a second. If you're really want everything done on the level, it doesn't have to be hard or expensive. Here's what you do -

What you need to do is fill out an MR620 'Application to modify a motor vehicle'. This can be found here: http://www.sa.gov.au/upload/franchise/Transport,%20travel%20and%20motoring/Motoring/Vehicle%20Standards%20and%20Modifications/MR620%20-%20APPLICATION%20TO%20MODIFY%20Motor%20Vehicle%202 013.pdf

What you need to do is fill that out with all the things you intend to do to the vehicle. List the supporting mods - Brakes from the same car the engine is from, EFI fuel tank etc etc. Doing suspension and wheels at the same time? Put that down. Anything you're modifying should be listed. No need to go into too much detail, It's pretty straightforward, but all the stuff you want to get signed off should be listed on this form. For example I am doing 4 wheel discs, suspension upgrades and an engine conversion. Mail it off to the vehicle standards guys and wait for the reply.

Give it a week or two and you'll get back a 'Statement of requirements - vehicle modifications'

This is basically a list of minimum requirements the guys at vehicle standards feel you'll need to meet AND IT CHANGES APPLICATION TO APPLICATION. You could have two identical cars with identical conversions and the requirements could be different. It's all at their discretion, which kinda sucks but these are the hoops you have to jump through to achieve a legally modified car. They will set out what you need to do in order to satisfy motor vehicle standards and usually it's not too extreme IF THEY FEEL THE SUPPORTING WORK YOU'RE DOING WITH YOUR CONVERSION IS SUFFICIENT. Sprinter brakes and gearbox for sprinter motor, that kind of stuff. They might also highlight additional rules / problems with your proposed modification, i.e. I wanted to put -4 offset wheels on my car, they said I can only have +/- 0 offset.


They might want to see an engineers report on the engine conversion, for some reason. They might want a report if you put coilovers in. They might want a report on the diff change.
They might say the vehicle has to undergo the much-feared 'testing' - A brake performance test, a lane change and handling test, a torsional rigidity test or a drive-by emissions test (there's probably more but these are the big 4). We'll talk about the testing a bit later.

Anyway what i'm trying to stress here is that they MAY or MAY NOT want you do to any or all of these. They might want more. They may require nothing. It varies application to application. Your mate could have done an identical conversion on an identical car, he might have blown through without a single engineers report and you might have to get three tests and seven reports.

IF your Statement of requirements says you need an engineers signoff for anything, then we go on to step 3. If not, go to step 4.


So, there's ALOT of hearsay about engineering and testing. This is a pretty educated example as i'm presently going through the process, but there's a lot of misinformation out there.
"Oooooh, waaaah, they said i need a drive by emissions test and I heard I have to hire out Adelaide international raceway to do it and that's like $6000" SHUT THE FUCK UP. NO YOU DON'T. YOU WANT REAL ANSWERS? PICK UP THE PHONE AND BOOK A CONSULT WITH AN ENGINEER.

List of chartered engineers approved by the vehicle standards office is here:http://www.sa.gov.au/upload/franchise/Transport,%20travel%20and%20motoring/Motoring/Vehicle%20Standards%20and%20Modifications/MR426%20Chartered%20Professional%20Engineers%20Fac tsheet.pdf

It's even a good idea to call them before you do step one and send in your MR620, but you don't have to as you may never need to even talk to one. But if you get your SOR:VM back and they say you need a signoff, BOOK A CONSULT WITH AN ENGINEER AND GET YOUR SHIT STRAIGHT BEFORE YOU HAVE TO GO BACK AND CHANGE THINGS. Talk it out with an engineer, what you're going, what you want to do with it, don't lie about anything. Want to use an under car surge tank and external fuel pump? Tell them! You can get almost anything registered. LS1 Gemini? Sure. The engineer may even suggest you submit another MR620 with revised details, and you may again get more or less hoops to jump through. But seriously. Talk to an engineer. It'll change your perspective on modifying your vehicle and it being legitimate and legal -for the better.

Step 4:

Spoken to your engineer? Got your shit together? Have some sort of plan in mind? Know what you need to do? Time to get your hands dirty (or your wallet emptied) and get it done! For some people this is the easiest part, for others the hardest, but undoubtedly this is almost always the longest part of the process. If the engineer wants documentation of certain parts of the build (i.e. I had to have my coilovers made by a ticketed welder and had to photograph the construction at different stages so he could see how they were made and that they were going to be satisfactorily strong) you'll have to do that as you go, so you may be up for a few more consults during your build.

Once you're happy that everything is up to scratch (remember, the quality of work on the vehicle must be high - as though everything were meant to be there, no wiring going through holes without grommets. No cable ties (lol), everything must be mounted properly and securely, no oil leaks - this shit does have to go through Regency Park!) it's time to get your engineer to go over it and make sure he's happy with the standard of work (or if you didn't have to get an engineers cert, make sure the car is in such a state that it'll pass a full vehicle safety inspection). If you need to get any testing done, now is when it'll happen - here's a rough idea of what's involved

DISCLAIMER - I haven't had any of these done personally - this is just what I remember from speaking to my engineer-

All testing takes place on a private facility. Some engineers use AIR, Some use other race tracks around the state, some use air strips which can be hired (relatively) cheaply. Most do the tests on several cars at once to keep costs down. This is a good reason to speak to your engineer as soon as you receive your SOR:VM back, to see how many hoops you have to jump through and estimate how much the engineering process is going to cost you.

Lane Change and handling test - Usually required when you modify your suspension or drastically change the center of gravity (or front to rear weight ratio) of your vehicle. Slalom through cones at 100km/h. So long as your suspension is fine and does not have any undesirable handling traits, you're pretty fine here. Lifted 4WD's have to pass this. A lowered car with good wheels and tyres should have no problems.

Brake performance test - Usually required when you modify your braking system (big brake upgrades, 4 wheel disc upgrades etc) Multiple stops from 100km/h in succession. Brake performance (stopping distance), front to rear bias, pedal effort, brake fade and other factors are all looked at. There's a bit that can go wrong here depending on your brake setup, i.e if the master cylinder you've chosen is incorrect for the brake setup combination and your pedal is REALLY hard, the stopping performance might be great because you're Hercules, but the stupidly high pedal effort will fail you. If the rears are locking up before the fronts, they'll fail you. A little bit of foresight goes a long way here. If you're going to rear discs but using the standard master cylinder and factory bias block, you might want to fit an adjustable bias valve to fine tune your setup (which ARE legal as long as they can't be reached / adjusted from the cabin).

Emissions testing - usually required if you modify the performance of the engine, the induction, exhaust, turbocharging an NA engine, aftermarket or modified ecus or change pretty much anything that would change how the factory emissions control behaves. I don't really know much about the specifics of this one, but the basic premise is that the engineer hooks up an exhaust gas analyzer (that I imagine connects to a laptop of similar so you can drive around the track with it) and you carry out a 'drive cycle'. This is so people can't just drive their blown chev big block torana in to a workshop which barely squeaks past emissions at idle and then the second you touch the throttle, it dumps an entire litre of fuel in, blows fuel straight out the exhaust, hydrocarbon readings go through the roof and all the whales die. So she has to run sweet under all circumstances, so 8:1 AFR's at cruise aren't going to cut it.
If you build a 4AGTE, get it tuned really well on the dyno for all kinds loads, not just cruise / power / decel. Anyway. Gas analyzer gets hooked up. Engineer goes for a drive on a racetrack / air strip. If the readings are good, you're done.

Torsional rigidity testing - Usually required when the car gets a significant power upgrade - to make sure the vehicle can handle it. Got so much torque the chassis twists coming off the line? You'll need this test. You might even need it putting worked SR20 in an early Corolla. I don't know what they do or how they do it, so if you need one of these, speak to your engineer.

Anyway. Do your conversion. Get your sign-offs signed off. Get your tests done. You're almost out of the woods and on to the road.

Step 5: Vehicle identity inspection
Probably the easist step in the process. Before having taking your vehicle over the pits, you've got to have an identity check. If you've ever had to do one (sometimes for cars bought from interstate without rego) there's nothing to them. It's pretty much to officially document the vehicle's VIN / Build number, engine number etc and make sure the shell isn't written off or the engine isn't stolen and stuff like that. Rock up the the Inspection station (also in Regency Park), pay your fee, take a seat and wait for them to call your name. They look at the numbers, you stand around for a bit and then they 'ok, thanks' (they hold on to the paperwork [MR29 Vehicle Identity Inspection Report] until you pass your roadworthiness inspection) and you drive your car back on to the car trailer. Easy.

Step 6 - Regency Park inspection

Oh fuck, game day. Get ready to get knocked back! Ha. I haven't gotten this far yet (I'm still pre-engineer signoff :() Go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. Have your SOR:VM paperwork with you. Have all your engineers reports. Just because you've made it this far, it doesn't mean they can't knock you back. Done a sweet engine conversion but your seatbelt is frayed? Fail. Brake upgrade tests sweet but your speedo is out because your new diff is a different ratio? Fail. Lowered your car but failed to keep 2/3rds of the original travel? Fail. Got your brow heights perfectly spot-on the legal limit but the inspector doesn't like the look of that rust in your bootlid? Fail

Your car has to be 100% roadworthy. Never mind your engine conversion that looks totally factory or your suspension mods that follow the rules to the letter or flashy paint, this thing has to be ROADWORTHY. They will fail you on ANYTHING, so don't give them an excuse. Like most people who are just trying to get their regular cars through, you'll probably fail the first time and get picked up for a heap of stuff you wouldn't have even thought of, but that's how Regency Park works. They're there to make sure your car is safe and meets state and national legislation.

Step 7 - Rego

You passed? Congratulations. Get that paperwork together, march in to ServiceSA and proceed to tear your hair out because they have no idea how to do anything apart from rego renewals and license testing. Oh well, you've jumped through all these hoops without going on murderous rampage, so i'm sure you'll have patience enough for their startling inability to cope with anything out of the ordinary. Walk out with a fresh set of plates and a huge grin on your face.

Step 8 - Owning a modified car

Enjoy it while you can. The benefits of having your conversion signed off by regency park is that your car is totally legal (so long as you don't do any further mods without jumping through the hoops again) and insurers will have much less of a problem with it should the worst happen. Despite all of this, SAPOL can still defect you. Mainly because they're not exactly hugely educated on cars, but low car and big wheels and different engine usually equals flashing red-blues and a yellow sticker.

A good idea is to carry COPIES of your engineers reports, your paperwork from regency park inspection and all the documentation you can IN THE CAR. If you want to be really safe, get the copies singed off by a signatory at your local police station (or justice of the peace, but it looks much more convincing with a SAPOL stamp on your cars signoff paperwork) and just generally be polite. Show them the paperwork, expain everything is done by the letter of the law, nothing has been changed since your inspections, etc etc. You'll still probably run into that asshole cop who defects you because he 'suspects' you've modified the vehicle (duh) further using your hoon magic voodoo powers. Still be nice. Go and get your defect cleared and contest the fine in court. Shit sucks but that's the way it is. If you're a reasonable human being, and don't drive like your average VN commodore owning P-plater, you should have no problems even if you do get pulled over.

Will it all be worth it? Absolutely. Being totally kosher with insurance companies? Awesome. Driving the car that you want, legally? Awesome. Knowing you've done it by the book? Great feelings. Hoping that i'll be able to avoid an unwarranted defect? Well, i'm confident, but i'm still hoping.

Happy to answer any questions.

30th December 2013, 02:14 AM
I'm not even from SA but I read the whole thing. Great write up

dove grey 64
31st December 2013, 08:07 PM
nice write up

31st December 2013, 11:01 PM
As above, great write up! I'm going to be going through this in the new year and will be using this as a reference. One thing I would like to know is once you go through everything and have the paper work, is there still a chance an angry police officer can dispute it and canary your car? I'm not someone that drives stupidly on public roads but living in Melbourne's west I see a lot of import cars on the side of roads with defect stickers. I don't mind spending the money for everything to be right but I have heard stories of guys with engineers certificates still getting done.

1st January 2014, 01:42 PM
As above, great write up! I'm going to be going through this in the new year and will be using this as a reference. One thing I would like to know is once you go through everything and have the paper work, is there still a chance an angry police officer can dispute it and canary your car? I'm not someone that drives stupidly on public roads but living in Melbourne's west I see a lot of import cars on the side of roads with defect stickers. I don't mind spending the money for everything to be right but I have heard stories of guys with engineers certificates still getting done.

Unfortunately that's correct. Just because you've got your car signed off as a modified vehicle, it doesn't mean it can't ever be defective - you could have bald tyres or brake lights that don't work - thus the modified vehicle is defective. That's what's MEANT to happen. What can actually happen is officer grumpy can give you a defect for the modifications that have been complied, because a ) he's officer grumpy, b ) officer grumpy doesn't know shit, and c ) this aspect of the law allows him to, even though everything has been done the right way.

Keep in mind this process is for South Australia only.

7th January 2014, 10:34 PM
great write up!!

can anyone confirm the process for NSW on personal experience.. not make believe stories!!

7th January 2014, 11:06 PM
great write up!!

can anyone confirm the process for NSW on personal experience.. not make believe stories!!

Perhaps you'd have better luck in the NSW section, but I'd strongly recommend calling a chartered engineer (or somewhere like Consulmotive? I think they're in NSW?) and having a chat or paying for a consult to lay out the process so there's no hearsay and bullshit.

5th February 2014, 10:01 AM
Moved thread to dedicated engineering section...