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Home/News/How to Safely Modify or Customise Your Car

How to Safely Modify or Customise Your Car

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Would you like to revamp your car and give it the ultimate ride experience? This guide will take you through all the possibilities of customising or upgrading your vehicle so that it can reach peak performance legally.

Join a community of other passionate car enthusiasts as we explore the thrilling world of car modification, covering everything from enhancing aesthetics to adding safety components.

The team at Westside Auto Service provide step-by-step guidance on how to make sure these modifications meet legal requirements while still ensuring an enjoyable driving journey, Let’s get started transforming your ride into something special.

PLEASE NOTE: For detailed information on car performance enhancements and upgrades and to understand the intricacies of each type of modification, it’s advisable to consult with automotive experts or visit specialised automotive experts.


Understanding the Basics of Car Modification

Car modification in Australia can be an exciting way to personalize your vehicle, but it's essential to ensure that any modifications comply with safety regulations and legal requirements. The Australian Design Rules (ADRs) set out the federal guidelines for road vehicle compliance, covering safety, performance, and emissions standards. These rules apply to both new and modified vehicles, including those with aftermarket body kits and other modifications.

It's important to note that while the ADRs provide a national framework, vehicle modifications are ultimately regulated under state and territory government regulations. This means that the specifics can vary depending on your location. For example, in New South Wales, significant modifications may require a compliance certificate from a licensed engineer, while in Victoria, modifications like changes to the body structure, suspension system, or braking system may need approval from a Vehicle Assessment Signatory Scheme (VASS) Approval Certificate.

In Western Australia, vehicle modifications are governed by the Department of Transport, which uses the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14 (VSB 14) as the basis for assessing compliance of modifications. Modifications are classified into three categories: Minor (No Inspection), Simple (Inspection), and Complex (Engineering). Minor modifications, such as alarm systems or additional lighting, don't require specific approval if they comply with legislation. Simple modifications can be authorized by an Authorised Inspection Station (AIS) without pre-approval from the Department of Transport. Complex modifications, like installing a supercharger or significantly increasing engine power, require approval from an authorized Automotive Consultant and Vehicle Safety and Standards signatory​​.

Before making any modifications, it's recommended to review the National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and Modification (VSB 14), which provides detailed information on the minimum design, construction, installation, and performance requirements for light vehicle modifications.

While car modification can be a great way to customize your vehicle, it's essential to ensure that all changes are compliant with both the ADRs and local state or territory regulations to avoid legal issues and maintain the safety and integrity of your vehicle.


Performance Upgrades

Performance upgrades to a car can significantly enhance its capabilities, providing not just an increase in power but also improvements in safety and handling. Here are some key upgrades and their benefits:

  1. Brake Upgrades: Improving the braking system is vital for safety, especially at high speeds. Upgraded brakes provide better stopping power, a critical aspect when driving a high-performance vehicle. This upgrade is particularly important because it can prevent accidents and ensure better control in emergency situations.
  2. Exhaust System Upgrades: Modifying the exhaust system can lead to better engine efficiency and performance. An upgraded exhaust system allows for a quicker path for exhaust gases to escape, which can increase the horsepower and torque of the vehicle.
  3. Suspension Upgrades: Upgrading the suspension system enhances the vehicle's handling and stability, especially during cornering. A well-tuned suspension system can improve the overall driving experience by providing a smoother ride and better control.
  4. Cold Air Intakes and Turbochargers: These modifications increase the amount of air intake to the engine, which can significantly boost the engine’s power output. Cold air intakes bring cooler air into the engine, which is denser and contains more oxygen, leading to more efficient combustion. Turbochargers, on the other hand, compress the air flowing into the engine, allowing it to burn more fuel and produce more power.
  5. Boost Controllers: These are used in turbocharged vehicles to control the amount of boost the engine receives, allowing for a customizable power delivery. This can be particularly useful for those seeking to fine-tune their vehicle’s performance to suit specific driving conditions or preferences.
  6. Wet Nitrous kits: In Western Australia, the regulations surrounding the use of nitrous oxide, particularly in the context of vehicle modifications like wet nitrous kits, are primarily focused on the sale and distribution of nitrous oxide canisters. These canisters have been reclassified as a Schedule 6 poison, with sales restricted to individuals over the age of 16. This change, effective from October 1, 2022, was made under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2014 and aligns with national restrictions on the sale of nitrous oxide. The reclassification and the imposition of age restrictions primarily target the recreational misuse of nitrous oxide and aim to protect young people from its potential harms. However, these regulations do not directly address the use of nitrous oxide in vehicles. Despite this, it's crucial for vehicle owners considering such modifications to ensure that their use of nitrous oxide in vehicles complies with overall vehicle safety standards and roadworthiness requirements. Given the nature of nitrous oxide and its potential risks, it's advisable for vehicle owners in Western Australia to consult with automotive modification professionals and check with local road transport authorities for specific legal requirements and safety standards regarding the use of nitrous oxide systems in vehicles.

It's important to remember that while these modifications can improve performance, they should be done professionally to ensure safety and compliance with local laws and regulations. Additionally, these modifications may impact your vehicle's warranty and insurance, so it's wise to check these aspects before proceeding with significant changes.


Enhancing Your Car's Exterior Safely

Enhancing your car's exterior in Western Australia involves complying with specific regulations to ensure safety and legality. The Department of Transport in Western Australia uses the Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14 (VSB 14) as the basis for assessing compliance of vehicle modifications. The modifications are categorized into minor, simple, and complex, each requiring different levels of approval.

  1. Aftermarket Wheels: These are a popular choice for customizing your vehicle’s exterior and performance. When selecting aftermarket wheels, it's crucial to ensure that they meet your vehicle's specifications and are sourced from reputable manufacturers. High-quality wheels can improve aesthetics and performance by reducing unsprung weight, which enhances traction.
  2. Custom Paint Jobs: Personalizing your car with a custom paint job is a great way to stand out. It's essential to work with professionals to ensure the paint job is durable and complies with legal requirements. Proper preparation of the car body and the application of paint and protective layers are key to achieving a long-lasting and eye-catching finish.
  3. Hood Modifications: Modifying the hood can improve aerodynamics and engine cooling. It's important to ensure these modifications align with safety regulations. Professional assistance can help you achieve a balance between aesthetic appeal and compliance with safety standards.
  4. body kits: must comply with the Australian Design Rules (ADRs), which set safety and emissions standards. Using high-quality materials like polyurethane, fibreglass, carbon fibre, or aluminium ensures durability and compliance with safety standards. A proper fitment is essential to maintain safety and vehicle performance.

Interior Customization for Comfort and Style

Now that you’ve improved your vehicle’s exterior and performance, it is time to pay attention to ways to further customize your car and its interior. Adding custom upholstery or steering wheel covers plus LED lighting can make driving much more enjoyable as well as reflect your personality. Let us look into the popular options available for improving the comfort level and aesthetics of a car’s interior design.

Custom Upholstery

Upgrading the interior upholstery of your car, whether with leather, nylon, polyester, or cloth, can greatly enhance both comfort and style. It's extremely important to choose materials and designs that reflect your personal taste while also ensuring they are fitted professionally. The cost can vary based on material quality and the extent of the work required.

Steering Wheel Covers

Adding a steering wheel cover not only enhances the aesthetics of your car's interior but can also improve grip and driving comfort. Materials like genuine leather, microfiber, carbon fiber, or vinyl offer various styles and functionalities. Ensure the cover fits the seat well and is appropriate for the steering wheel's diameter for optimal safety and control.

LED Lighting

LED interior lights can create a unique ambiance and improve visibility inside the vehicle. From strip lights to customizable setups, LED lighting can be tailored to your style preferences. Proper installation is crucial to avoid electrical issues and ensure the lighting system functions correctly.

When making any interior modifications, it's important to ensure they comply with local regulations. In Western Australia, modifications should not obstruct the driver's view or access to vehicle controls, and should be safely installed to avoid any safety hazards. Always check the latest vehicle modification guidelines or consult with a professional for advice specific to your location and vehicle type.


Suspension and Handling Improvements

For vehicle owners wanting to enhance their car’s performance, suspension and handling upgrades can make a world of difference. Consider these modifications that could lead to more horsepower and increased driving safety and enjoyment: brake enhancements, tire selection for better road grip, as well as more advanced suspension systems for improved handling. With the right choice in changes, you will have an overall smoother ride with improved control during turns or acceleration/deceleration moments!

Suspension Upgrades

Enhance your car’s handling and ride quality by upgrading its suspension components. Sway bars, coilovers, control arms, lowering springs and new shocks are all useful parts for improving performance. But it is essential to get expert advice before proceeding with these upgrades so that they will be suitable for your vehicle’s specifications. The right changes can give you increased stability as well as a smoother journey overall. Ensuring an impressive level of drive experience enhancement from the updated system on the whole!

Brake Enhancements

Enhancements to your brakes can increase the control and the speed and manoeuvrability of your vehicle. By installing higher quality parts such as brake pads, callipers, rotors and fluid you can get an impressive upgrade in stopping power with less likelihood for fading.

It is essential that safety requirements are met when enhancing braking systems in cars – consulting experienced professionals while following regulations will ensure optimal performance with increased protection from unexpected hazards on the road. The boost this could give to handling along with a more powerful stop may make upgrading worth every penny!

Tire Selection

When it comes to modifying a car's body, picking the correct tires can have an immense effect on driving performance and safety. Performance-driven ones are built with increased traction in mind for better control while behind the wheel.

Before making your choice, keep these considerations at heart: effectiveness, measurements, load capacity, endurance, climate conditions, brand name and calibre of product, all necessary details when selecting appropriate wheels.

By choosing high quality rubber that suits both your car’s need and budget constraints, you will have improved handling options which leads to more secure rides overall and even greater thrills along the way!


Legal Considerations and Compliance

Modifying your dream car can be an exciting pursuit, but you must also keep in mind the relevant laws and regulations to ensure that your alterations are compliant. Ignoring such criteria could lead to significant fines or even insurance claim rejections. Knowledge is key for a successful modification project. By being well-versed in both local legislation as well as safety guidelines, one can rest assured their customized vehicle follows all legal parameters without sacrificing any of its appeal.

Consulting with Professionals and Online Communities

When it comes to car modification, consulting with experts and online communities can be hugely beneficial. Professional advice regarding the most suitable modifications, the cost, any risks involved, and correct installation techniques is invaluable in this regard.

Participating in forums that discuss car topics provides insight from knowledgeable car enthusiasts who can suggest viable options for customization as well as reliable outlets or professionals to use when carrying out such changes on your vehicle. This information gives most people around you greater control over making wise choices about what kind of modifications are made to your automobile while avoiding expensive blunders due to lack of knowledge better understanding.


Embarking on a car customization journey unlocks a world of possibilities, allowing you to tailor your vehicle to your unique aesthetic and personality. Before diving into performance upgrades, exterior and interior customizations, or handling and suspension improvements, it's crucial to grasp the essentials of car modification.

With the right knowledge, professional guidance and your creative vision, you can fully unleash your car's potential while adhering to safety standards and regulations. Let us help you transform your vehicle into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, ensuring a safe and truly unique driving experience. Start your customization adventure with Westside Auto Service today and drive a car that's as individual as you are.

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