News Vehicles

Police now targeting YOUR modified 4X4

NSW Police know how to make a good looking Ranger
Photo and design courtesy of Ryan Farrow @ Coconut Graphics

Dear Reader,

Your lifted 4X4 is in danger. You knew your suspension lift, body lift and tall tyres added up to good ground clearance. You may not have known for certain that you were crossing into illegal modification territory.
‘Operation Lift’ by Queensland Police is specifically targeting illegally lifted recent model 4X4s in South East Qld.

UPDATE: AAAA wades in on Queensland’s “Operation Lift” kerfuffle

Operation Lift

Queensland Police Services have completed a special training event “aimed at identifying four-wheel drives which have been illegally modified, comprising (sic) the stability of the vehicle and subsequent safety of all road-users.”

The training, which finished on Wednesday last week, comprised a day of theoretical training followed by two days centered on practical training.

“Approximately 35 QPS officers from across the South East Region will work in conjunction with 10 Transport and Main Roads inspectors to stage static and mobile interception sites across the Gold Coast District.”

Police 4X4 bogged, caption reads "Just call over a motorist with a capable 4x4 to tow us out" "We can't boss, we defected all those last week"
Source: Clever person on Facebook

The Law

QLD has some fairly strict laws, with a maximum of 50mm lift including tyres and suspension on vehicles with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and 75mm for non-ESC equipped vehicles; this puts the majority of modified 4X4s at risk of a defect notice. While there are no excuses for illegal modifications, the rules themselves are draconian and unrealistic.

On older vehicles, greater than 75mm lifts can be engineer certified in Queensland, however no QLD engineer is approved to certify a lift over 50mm on any vehicle with ESC. ESC has been mandatory on all new vehicles since 2013, this means the vast majority of 4X4s on the roads today…

QLD Polcie Cheat Sheet for 4X4 Defect
QLD Police roadside cheat sheet. Thanks to an intrepid reader for passing this on to us, sourced second hand or more from Facebook.

As well as suspension and body lifts, here at we have read about Ranger, BT50 and Navara owners being defected for changes to wheel track, tyre diameter, window tint, lack of mud flaps and several more trivial aspects-had the book thrown at them so to speak. At present it seems dual cab utes are the focus, but this blitz is set to affect a lot of 4X4 owners.

More information

The Four Wheel Drive Association of Queensland have released a press statement regarding this initiative.

Don’t for a moment think QLD have the monopoly for cracking down on illegal 4X4 mods, as our article on WA’s efforts recalls here.

There’s even one company offering free stock suspension kits to owners of defected Rangers, with the owner of the Ranger just paying for installation labour.

Of course, you could play it safe and just stick to the word of the law or engage an engineer where applicable…

UPDATE: AAAA wades in on Queensland’s “Operation Lift” kerfuffle

QLD Police media alert. If you know anyone who went, please contact us ASAP
QLD Police media alert. If you know anyone who went, please contact us ASAP


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  • All i can say i can say is, i would rather drive on the same road as another driver which has a heavily modified 4wd who can drive then drive on the road with someone in there stock standard Barina that can’t drive. But that could just be me and my opinion

  • Can any one explain to me why the NSW police can be enforcing these laws with a Ford Ranger wheel track of 1360mm (50mm above Aust. Legal limit and 75mm above nswrms limit). The Lenso rtg’s in the picture above are only offset +20 which makes them illegal any way you look at it. Not sure I’d be too happy if I was given a ticket by anyone driving this vehicle around????

    So In response to ‘Saftey first’ below (ironically not SAFETY first), I guess the real dumb dumbs are the NSW police… as you say… ignorance (or stupidity) is no excuse!

  • Hi I have a 2004 UZJ100 with 50mm lift factory wheels 16×8 275×70 tyres can I go up to 285x75x16 a 275 70 is 792 mm and 285 75 are 833 its 41mm bigger is that legal or not can go to a 275x65x18 witch is 815mm that’s 23mm higher and cost lots more.

  • And to add to that.
    My 3.5t tow capacity is stupid. I know it will tow 4.0t no probs. Or
    5km over the speed limit never hurt anyone
    Sound stupid doesn’t it.
    so does all the other arguments. Because no matter what I think.
    I did not design the vehicle’s or do any legal testing to prove I know better.
    Neither have any of the nutters out there that drive with unroadwothy Vehicles. Stay within the law. Do your research about what is safe and suck it up if you get done for doing the wrong thing.
    Ignorance (or stupidity ) is not an excuse for breaking the law.

  • Still dont get it do you Tim.

    Wheel track has nothing to do with wider tyres.
    Typical of someone who has no idea.wheel track is measured from center of wheel to center of wheel. Wider tyres do not change that. Changing the offset . Typically a PX ford ranger has +55 for a track wide of 1560mm. The ones breaking the law are putting and rim on thta vehicle with a positive more than 30 in Qld are unroadwothy. NSW +42.5 is roadworthy any less is not and so on.
    If you are smart enough to qualify to be an engineer who will sign off on widening the track more than allowed. Then you might have a reasonable argument. The way a vehicle reacts under stress when the track is outside legal parameters is dangerous. To my family your family and every other road user.
    Not the 50mm lift or the 33s. Just the dumb dumbs changing the track. Center to center tyre. Do a google seach if you don’t understand what the track is, it is not wider tyres dumb dumb. And while you are at it google what happens to the vehicle’s handling when it is changed l (ike a lot of cowboys are doing) 0 offset 110mm from standard. IDIOTS

  • What you peanuts don’t understand, is that certain people will always look for ways to break the rules. You can’t brand the entire community because of these outliers. The primary issue here, is the fact that QLD with arguably Australia’s greatest 4wd tracks, treats their road users differently to say NSW as is a common theme with this Nanny state.

    You seem to have a misconception that this debacle is entirely focused on people that drive around with 4-6″ lifts and 35s as wide as 3 of your honda jazz’s tires . Where as a matter of fact, many of those found at fault have 2 inch lifts (legal) and 33s (legal in NSW) on ESC vehicles without issues with wheel track. You likely also won’t understand that tires can come in different widths for the same radial size, meaning that your point about wheel track is completely irrelevant for the majority of the community.

    Yes, people do widen their tire track. That is not and has never been the point of this response from the 4×4 community, it is the fact that QLDers are treated differently. When the regulations change in October to bring QLD up to speed (an therefor nullifying others claims regarding insurance coverage), this will have been nothing but a cash grab by QPS. Some of you need to get outside, it is so embarrassing.

  • This is bullshit as I just tried to have my 2014 D/Max Mod plated for my 50mm Suspension lift which is ok, but I have 265/70/17 tyres instead of 255/65/17 which is only moderately larger which is not due to ESC.
    Now Dickhead Minister say’s you can have that just need to be tested and Mod plated.
    Checked with 5 Mod engineers and only company that can do the testing is Bosch Australia who I’m told charge about $30K for their facility testing.
    Labor voter my whole life but now I’m really pissed.

  • P.S
    Ring your Vehicle manufacturerer ask them if it is okay to make those changes. Warranty /insurance/legalities.
    I’ll bet all who fall under the eyes of the law turn a blind eye to their legal responsibilities as a registered Vehicle owner. If you become involed in an accident and are charged gor driving unroadwothy Vehicle it is deemed the cause of the accident. Then you should face the full force of the law.

  • Terry is Another one who doesnt get it. read article through. Lifted is not just the problem but a part of the problem. Wheel track widening is a major issue with most of these vehicle’s. Glad you are a vehicle engineer/designer.
    Who knows how a vehicle will behave with these mods. Try and get any vehicle engineer to sign of on track widening greater than state requirement . Wont happen . They know that changing the dynamics of the track (widening or narrowing) the vehicle changes the ability of the vehicle to behave in a safe manner. So to do this is Cowboy behavior at its best. Complete disregard for the safety for themselves and every other road user. Brand them any way you like. Wont change their attitude. Large fines might. No insurance will . Are they that stupid to take the risks involved. Most of these vehicle’s are daily drivers and spend most of the time on sealed roads.
    I think you answered that already.

  • Dumb dumbs
    Quick update.
    I spoke to a few Tyre /Wheel dealers they all are of the opinion that staying inside the guards /flares is okay. WRONG.
    I have also spoken to a few Ford dealerships that have Rangers with greater than the legal wheel track wheels fited and on display and many previous sold to unwary customers they are also of the opinion the wheels inside body work is okay. WRONG.
    Both of these are only worried about a sale not the legalities of their product . Ask them will they cover you with insurance in an accident. Not a hope in hell.
    You will be left high and dry. Not only risking the financial side of the illegal exercise also maybe hurting a family member .Ring the relevant authorities Vicroads / Rta NSW and keep everyone safer

  • Its Funny As Soon As You Do Some Mods To Help In The Bush You Get Branded A Cowboy Lock Into 4X4 And Go With A Modified Vehicle Into The Bush , Then You Might See Why Its Done . 2 Inch Lift One Inch Body & 33 Tyres. PS How Many Lifted 4X4 Do You See Doing Burnouts On The Black Top Like Commodores How Many 4X4s In Accidents Compared To Cars & How Many Speeding Fines On Modified 4X4s , Built For 4X4ing Not Racing Been To The Cape And Guess What Didn’t Fall Over Once Or Swerve Off The Road In 7 Thousand KLMS Must Be A Miracle

  • RUSS
    Looking from both sides of the fence is always a good point to start. Doods that push the limits of design parameters and they have no clue in that department. Yes there maybe over zealous police. But do the right thing stay legal and within the law . Help keep the people who do the right thing safe from the clowns, who think they know more than the engineers who designed the vehicle . For me safety is always paramount over how a vehicle looks. I have a mate who is in the force. He has told me many time of the clowns he has had to deal with. No wonder they end up with some attitude when dealing with clowns that test the law just for a look on their vehicle. I have no empathy for them. It is simple stupid stay legal. You will get left alone

  • …Maybe these rules have something… BUT Lets cut to the chase. Traffic police have a reputation. Period. Mainstream police sometimes call traffic boys “jelly backs”, I once asked a policeman in overalls if he was in traffic and he asked me not to swear at him. A detective told me of the difficulty he faces whilst doing his work due to traffic cops operating in our society. For myself I took a traffic matter to trial; during trial His Honour said, “the Law is an Ass” from the bench. I have become aware of many unfair and unethical fines. If you haven’t been stitched up by the police yet; my thoughts are you don’t get out much, or just wait a bit longer. When the police start verifying their fines are always ethical people will stop assuming they are simply revenue raising. I look forward to a time when someone starts a register of unethical police fines and asks the police to comment on the ethics of each one….regardless of what the letter of the law might say. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the good police who put themselves on the line, but I also believe these police would not have issued the fine that I referred to above. So, a 6 inch lift is crazy but only doing a 2 inch lift may still have you cop expensive fines and re-works that you tried hard to avoid. Police used to use “discretion” whilst issuing fines, now they just say they must follow the law to the letter….

  • Davo sorry to give you the bad news. track widening regulations on all Vehicle’s per state does not change just because of electronics or no electronics . Even older models that exceed the state of registration regulations would be deemed unroadwothy /illegal and an insurance trap. So age of vehicle is not really relevant. Just staying within the state regulations /vehicle manufacturer’s design. Not cowboys tough look disregard to engineering design. It was built that way for a reason.

  • Yay ! Looks my my older model non esc fourbie just jumped up heaps in value. Sometimes it pays to not be able to afford the latest model …..

  • It all comes back to your wife and kids in a vehicle and a poorly engineered 4wd taking out your family because you could not control your vehicle. Check YouTube for “Moose Test” and the argument is of over.
    And again it’s Police having to protect you from yourself!

  • . As much as the lifting of Vehicles seems to be the contentious point. One of the major problems is the track widening in most of these vehicle’s exceeding their legal requirements in their registered state. NSW 25mm front and back.
    VIC 25mm independent suspension front or back. Live axles 50mm.
    Qld 50mm. Many of these vehicle’s exceed that. Some by up to 50mm over legal in Nsw rules. Meaning they have gone 75mm wider than standard to look tough.Not only does it make them unroadworthy they could be found at fault in an accident from the modifications and have their insurance wiped. These vehicle’s were designed to have all limits taken into account. This can make braking or swerving to avoid an incident dangerous . All of this for a look. Also some of the Vehicle dealers are selling them unroadworthy with the mods being fitted at sale point from new.

  • Seems there is a beat up about “getting it right” when the “guideline” in the photo above list Non ESC as “NONE ESC – “. Guess literacy is not a high priority for employment with the force.

    • It appears something did change though, VSI G19.7 from October last year didn’t differentiate between ESC and non-ESC vehicles:
      The following information provides some general guidance about raising a vehicle’s height
      A vehicle lift up to and including 75mm combining both suspension lift and tyre diameter increase (maximum suspension
      lift 50mm, maximum tyre diameter increase 50mm) is acceptable under self-certification.

      But now the wording is different, from VSI G19.9:
      The following information provides some general guidance about raising a vehicle’s height
      Without ESC
      vehicle lift up to and including 75mm combining both suspension lift and tyre diameter increase (maximum suspension lift 50mm, maximum tyre diameter increase 50mm) is acceptable under self-certification.
      A vehicle lift between 76mm and 125mm inclusive, combining a suspension lift, a tyre diameter increase and a body lift (maximum suspension lift 50mm, maximum tyre diameter increase 50mm, maximum body lift 50mm) requires certification and testing by an Approved Person.
      With ESC
      A suspension lift up to and including 50mm is acceptable under self-certification. A vehicle lift over 50 mm or due to a combination of any other lift (tyres, or body blocks) requires certification and testing by an Approved Person.

      Anyone reading VSI G19.7 in October last year would think they are fine to go for a 50mm+25mm lift.

    • Interested in how they stated it was a three-day operation on the GC, I heard on a facebook group that they had set-up a check-point at Kilcoy en route to LCMP over the weekend. I am now wondering about the legitimacy of that report now given the TMR news release.

    • Thank you Anonymous. You have indeed been vindicated in what you have been trying to tell Mark Kendrick about his article. Mark, please fact check next time rather than regurgitating stuff that could be misleading

  • Great about time, the effort and money manufactures go to tune the esc means a safer car
    but it dont “look”good for the cowboys out there

  • The rules have been there for a while with a reason. This is really just training the police on what to look for and increasing enforcement.
    The reality is lifting does decrease vehicle stability with an increased centre of gravity affecting the risk of roll over. While driving on public roads vehicles need to comply with relevant safety standards if you only operate your vehicle on private property modify to your heart’s content otherwise accept the limitations placed on modifying your vehicle for the privilege of driving on public roads.

  • Maybe just get your Mod Plates and you’ll be fine? I’m sure there’s a safety aspect to this even though it looks like just revenue raise, some of these 6 inch lift kits look like a strong breeze could knock them over, my 2 inch lift plus 33inch muddies has gotten me pretty much everywhere so why the need to go higher? for looks? Diffs and axles still the standard height…

    • I agree with James, my 2″ lift has done me well and I didn’t waste my cash throwing bigger tyres when the car came with perfectly good ones when I bought it, Eventually I’ll go a bit bigger with rubber because I don’t have esc. The only problem is the “engineers” in qld don’t take on certifying unless is a simple task like an addition of a child seat anchor point. I just increased my GVM, (because of the whole GVM/GCM debacle) and it took me 6months, 25+ phone calls emails and customer inquiry reports, until I got 2! Responses. One guy said he’d look into it, still waiting, the other said sure gave me his guidelines of what he checked and needed so I didn’t rock up missing something. Like having e-brake adjusted etc. then I had to travel 2hrs to get to the guy. I live in Brisbane, not the middle of nowhere.

    • Spot on James. I’m the same, 2″ lift and went from 245 AT’s to 265 muddies and it goes everywhere without any fuss. Higher lifts are not needed, they might look cool, but it won’t lift your diffs any higher.

    • James, if your vehicle came with 31″ tyres, fitting 33’s has now raised your running gear by 1″ when tyres are properly inflated for the bitumen.

  • 3 days training to defect a vehicle because it doesn’t look like every other vehicle on the road wether it be legal or not, revenue raising again under the disguise of safety, remember how they treat Harley owners, club or no club

  • In Qld the the Transport and Main Roads don’t seem to have any certified engineers for these lifts (or most modifications) and the Police and Ambulance seem to be exempt but no mention of the Fire brigade for exemption. With no certified engineers how are the require emergency vehicles covered under work cover?

  • Really happy they are finally looking at these urban assault vehicles. Most are show ponies that never leave the bitumen shopping center carparks and express ways. Sick of 4X4 mania. My commodore drives over 100 KLM of dirt road a week. Well done Police pick as many as you can get off the road totally.

      • I agree John, but look at the Channel 7 News report that started this. 6 to 8 inches of lifts with no testing or mod approval. Maybe 2 inch suslension smd 1 inch tyres isnt on the radar? The other problem is these mall crawlers are fitting Muffler delete kits, removing dpf and cat converters, to sound like trucks. They draw attention to themselves and now they have got it. It is also the companies advertising these 8 inch monster lifts here in qld. They know it is illegal to use on a road but on the receipt or in fine print somewhere they will put for off road use only. Its not illegal for them to sell it or install it, only to drive it on a road.

  • Biggin, that would be because no engineer is certified for it.
    I own 4 door jk wrangler, with no change to the esc they fit 4 inch lift/long arms/35’s/Dana 60 diffs from factory. clearly the esc isn’t a provlem

    • The cops don’t make the laws. They just get told to enforce them. Unless you are self employed you have bosses who tell you what to do. And they in turn are told what to do. You may not have noticed but that’s how it works. Don’t blame the cops.

      • Laws might be laws, but they fail to follow there own laws. All fees levies fines or charges must go into consolidated revenue and not into the state as has been happening.each state is breaking the law. Its not about safety its about revenue and the fines are in their budgets. Its time for all people to stand up against this crap.

    • Gavin, If you think that the Cops wrote these laws or make ANY financial benefit from them you are showing extraordinary naivety, small mindedness and a tangible deficit in your knowledge of how laws are made and policed in our states and territories. I think you’ll find that many cops are motoring enthusiasts and these changes affect them too. To call cops, “money making greedy bastards” is a step too far. Cops put their lives on the line each and every day for all citizens – even you Gavin.

  • The media play a big part in all this so it would be nice if you provided factual reporting, now while you didn’t write that 4wd Qld press release you should at least fact check it.

    The AAAA has not engaged with TMR, they engaged with the Australian Motor Vehicles Certification Board (AMVCB) who maintain the NCOP which is endorsed by every state and territory.

    They along with the board conducted testing and supplied evidence about the effect on ESC in 2015/16 and as a result the NCOP was updated to allow a 50mm suspension lift on vehicles. Prior to 2016 any lift on an ESC vehicle was strictly prohibited.

    TMR has never changed the goal posts as the press release claims.

    There is also nothing difficult about finding the correct information, the QCOP is very easily found on the TMR website and the NCOP is laid out again very easily on the Department of Infrastructures website. 95% if not more of the elements contained with the NCOP have been adopted by the different jurisdictions so I would consider that fairly aligned and that is certainly how the bureaucracy would see it.

    The press release makes the claim that in the earlier edition of G19.1 there was no mention of ESC limits:

    “However, these have now been updated on the TMR website to say ESC vehicles are restricted”

    If you read the Section on Suspension in this document it clearly states;

    “a vehicle fitted with Electronic Stability Control (commonly known as ESC) is not modified if the operation of the ESC is affected, unless the ESC system is adjusted accordingly. ”

    The release then goes on to contend;

    “however the guidelines / standards regarding ESC’s 50/75mm lift have been quietly changed by TMR”

    This is also a fabrication as the ESC limits were introduced in the QCOP in November 2015 following the lobbying by the AAAA and evidence that a 50mm lift was safe on ESC and the NCOP being updated. This is change tracked in QCOP as version 2.1.

    You could also hardly call it quiet when multiple media outlets covered the story back in 2016 and the AAAA had their own press release. These included Pat Callinan, Practical Motoring, Outback Trek, and other news outlets.

    There is also a claim that the current blitz is unfair as new Draft LS9 and LS10 would exonerate people getting defects;

    “These new draft standards are about to be released in a few weeks (straight to their website), and will void many of the QPS defect notices and infringements currently being issued”

    Anyone that takes two minutes to read the new Drafts as linked to in the press release will see this is not the case at all, and that infact the new drafts being Qld closer to the NCOP not further away. They do allow for a 50mm + 25mm total lift but ONLY after certification and full ESC testing.

    “Vehicle lifts that do not exceed 50mm, and are achieved by modification of the suspension do not require certification. Any person performing this type of modification must ensure the
    modified vehicle meets all the technical requirements of the LS9 and LS10 sections of this code, however no formal certification or lane change test is required.

    For lifts outside of this, LS9 certification is required in addition to LS10 certification. Once certified the vehicle must not exceed 50mm in the overall tyre diameter, 75mm in the
    suspension and 50mm body lift.

    You must carry out ESC and lane change testing. If you cannot conduct the required ESC and lane change testing, you must not certify the modification ”

    This means all current defect notices would still stand.

    The release also seem to confuse what the NSW Vehicle Safety Compliance Certification Scheme (VSCCS) is, Qld just like NSW already has signatories to the NCOP and they must not contravene it. They also have to be suitably qualified to issue certification as an approved person. The last time I checked most states work from the exact same TAFE courses etc in the suitable Qualifications Table.

    The VSCCS is not the regulations regarding light vehicle modification rather it is the method of having them certified and not at odds with the NCOP.

    Another example is the claim in the release that NSW uses a straight “up to 7% increase in diameter”, however if we look at the NSW suspension manual from RMS it has an upper limit;

    “and/or an increase in the diameter of the wheel and tyre combination of up to 50mm.”

    So it’s 7% until you reach 50mm, that is the maximum limit without certification, this matches the NCOP and the QCOP.

    Another example the press release states;

    “vehicles travelling between states are being defected as they don’t meet the regulations of the state they’re travelling in and they’re being defected”

    No they are being defected as they are not road worthy in their home state either. A Vehicle must only be roadworthy in the jurisdiction with which it is registered. When you travel interstate as a driver you must obey the road rules of the jurisdiction you are in but this is not the same thing. Registration of a vehicle is akin to conditions placed on your license.

    Don’t get me wrong, I commend them for their efforts but in these matters you need to have your facts 100% on point other wise you can simply be ignored as crazies. The regulators will have no trouble batting this one away as it’s simply full of inconsistencies and holes.

    • Matthew Day thank you for taking the time to type than monumental wall of text, it will take a while to get the truth sorted from the chaff. I trust you have communicated this to 4WDQLD who seem to be the primary target of your antagonism?

      • 4wd Qld have chosen not to comment, and I don’t think any one is opposed to getting good outcomes for the industry or consumers that allow people to modify and enjoy their vehicles in a sane / safe manner.

        There is however a right way and a wrong way, misstating the facts may help get masses up in arms but it does nothing to get the bureaucracy onside and it also belittles the incredible amount of effort that a-lot of people have put in via the national transportation reform process to get all the states to the table and on the same page.

        The fact is Qld is no more “Draconian and unrealistic” than most other jurisdictions. Let’s be clear here only NSW allow a 50mm suspension + 25mm tyre lift without certification on an ESC vehicle.

        90% of the defects being picked up in this Qld blitz are also a defects in every other jurisdiction including NSW. Case it point the NSW Police Recruitment Branch Ranger depicted on this articles cover was found to be in breach of the RMS regulations and those wheels where removed as a wheel track defect.

        I don’t even know what the purpose of the press release is other then to get people foaming at the mouth? Qld is not going to abandon the NCOP and neither are the other states so if we want the NCOP to be updated to allow more leeway and modification scope the focus has to be on the Australian Vehicle Certification Board’s working party (AMVMB WP) at a national level.

        Beating up TMR and fabricating stuff achieves absolutely nothing and just gets them offside. If anything we should be making factual representations to the TMR representatives of the AMVCB, and asking them to address particular elements of the NCOP we would like to see change.

        • “Only NSW allow a 50mm suspension + 25mm tyre lift without certification on an ESC vehicle.” Does this mean, a combined lift (Tyres + Suspension) of 50mm will be deemed legal nationally? my 4×4 is registered n NSW.

      • no need to come across as a self righteous wanker after you have made some valid points… thats where you loose mate… think about it.

  • try to find an engineer that will sign off on an ESC vehicle with a 50mm lift and slightly bigger tyres (ie: 265/65/16) is impossible here in QLD.

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