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Safer vehicles


The design of safe vehicles is addressed through the national Australian Design Rules (ADR). The ADR's are a set of minimum standards for the construction of motor vehicles and trailers. These Rules have been developed in accordance with the Motor Vehicles Standards Act 1989. Through the ADR's, the Australian Government has jurisdiction over motor vehicles up to the point of first supply to the market. From that point, the states and territories are responsible for regulation of all vehicles that are in service, including registration, licensing, roadworthiness and operational requirements.

Roadworthy vehicles are those that are fit for use on our roads. They comply with standard vehicle requirements including wheels and tyres, steering, brakes, seatbelts, lamps and reflectors, exhaust and emission controls, windscreens and wipers and vehicle body and chassis.

Driving a vehicle that is roadworthy is crucial to your safety and that of other road users.

Roadworthy inspections

In South Australia, a roadworthy inspection is required when the vehicle:

  • has been fitted with a non standard engine
  • construction has been changed (e.g. change to length of wheelbase, change in the height of the vehicle, change in number of tyres, or the vehicle has been converted from a sedan to a convertible)
  • is a bus with seating for 13 or more
  • has been issued with a major defect notice
  • has been imported from overseas
  • was originally manufactured as left hand drive
  • has been rebuilt from parts and is a hot rod, beach buggy, etc.
  • has been changed and the seating capacity is different
  • is new and is not fitted with a compliance plate or the compliance plate approval date has expired
  • is a repaired written-off vehicle
  • was registered in another state, is more than seven years old and has an unladen mass of 4.5 tonnes or more
  • trailers registered in another state, more than seven years old and having an unladen mass of 4.5 tonnes or more are also required to be roadworthy tested.

A current Inspection Certificate, issued by Vehicle Services is required before registration of:

  • long combination trucks
  • medium combination prime movers
  • long combination prime movers.

In South Australia at present, only B doubles, road trains and passenger transport vehicles (buses and taxis) must be inspected regularly. Other vehicles, including most trucks and semi-trailers, are only inspected if their owners are seeking re-registration after a vehicle has been issued a defect notice.

Maintaining roadworthiness standards of existing vehicles is important to road safety. The benefits of introducing vehicle inspections in South Australia will be considered, based on interstate and international experience, cost effectiveness and community impact.

Vehicle safety: recalls

If a vehicle is unsafe or likely to cause injury it should be recalled as soon as possible. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) define a vehicle as being recalled when a supplier voluntarily asks consumers to return the vehicle for precautionary inspection or modification.

Recall campaigns are the responsibility of the original supplier and the Federal Government via the ACCC. Further information can be found at

Grey imports and recall implications

The term grey import, also known as parallel imports, refers to new and used vehicles commercially imported by people or companies other than the original manufacturer or distributor. All grey imports are significantly different to any vehicles sold new in Australia.

Its important to note that these imports do not receive official support via the original manufacturers dealer network. Therefore, the responsibility for recalling grey imported vehicles lays with the actual importer of the vehicle not the manufacturer.

However, since the introduction of The Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS), which regulates the importation and supply of used vehicles to the market in Australia, there have been many importers ceasing to operate. This means that vehicles originally imported by now non-operating companies will not receive notification or support for important safety recalls.

In these circumstances it is important to have the vehicles service history thoroughly checked before and arrange an independent inspection to determine its condition before purchasing.

Vehicle modification

Information bulletins and publications contain comprehensive guidelines for the modification of existing passenger cars in South Australia. They advise the legal standing of modifications to ensure that all changes comply with roadworthiness for passenger cars.

Used vehicles

If you are considering purchasing a second-hand vehicle but are unsure of the car's accident history and current condition, check the Australian Motor Vehicle Database for a listing of possible damages. A roadworthy certificate may not always indicate whether or not the car is or has been damaged.


Inspection bookings Vehicle Services
Kateena Street
Regency Park SA 5010
Phone: 13 10 84

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