Vehicle modifications and buying second hand

Ron0z

Active Member
My advice: if it's an engine change - walk away. In regard to other mods, consider the weight factor (of the mod and the vehicle) as well as the possibility that the mod may be breaching some regulation you may be unaware of.

I bought a 2010 Suzuki Jimny not so long ago - $15,000. It's a small car and comes with a 1.3L engine. The seller had reduced the price from $19,000 in the original ad. The car came with a lot of extras and mods, one of which the owner said he had no idea had been done.

The extras that had been fitted included: CB radio, cruise control, roof rack with awning & tent to fit, snorkel, diff and g/box breather extensions, integrated 2nd battery with cutout and voltmeter with power outlets, bull bar with integrated spotlights, light bar, winch, front towbar, rear towbar, under vehicle protection the details of which I'm not quite certain, rock sliders, new springs and shocks and larger dia tyres to raise the car 50mm, rear storage drawer, and an upmarket radio gizmo that seems to include a GPS, video, audio facilities as well as web access that I'm still trying to figure out how to operate. (I can use the radio but hanged if I can figure out the other features.)

The seller even gave me the original front bumper should I wish to remove the bull bar. He also gave me the original rear seats should I wish to replace the rear storage drawer with the seats, and there was other stuff he gave me but I don't want to bore you too much. It seemed a good deal.

So, the one thing the previous owner hadn't told me about was the engine, and I believe him when he later told me he didn't know about it, because he seemed so honest throughout all my dealings with him. I bought the car in Melbourne and when I got back to Canberra I took it to a garage to have the roadworthy done prior to registering it. I very quickly got a phone call from the mechanic saying that he couldn't continue because the engine is non-standard. I was asked to pick it up and take the car to the government vehicle testing centre. He said the standard engine was 1.3L whereas this car had a 1.6L engine.

The Canberra vehicle testing station is something to behold. A huge modern building with two pits running along its length, fitted with a brake dynamometer at one end and facilities to test steering and suspension by wobbling the wheels. Presumably to check for loose joints. Trucks and cars go through this workshop.

My car failed the brake test. The brake dyno is an interesting machine that I never knew existed. With the front wheels over it, I was asked to step on the brake pedal. The machine started and two large rollers rotate to test brake effectiveness, much like an engine dyno. When asked to press harder the rotation had the effect of pushing the car completely off the rollers. That was a pass. When the rear axle was driven onto the rollers, no matter how hard I pushed on the brake pedal the rollers kept turning. Fail. The officers also spotted a front brake line making contact with the body while on full lock. Fail. And, lastly, they spotted the engine issue. So, I paid my $74 for the roadworthy and was asked to take the car to an authorized engineer who would inspect the car and provide an opinion on the non-standard engine. That's standard procedure when the replacement engine has 20% more power than the standard engine.

$1828 later the engineer said the engine work had been done well. No problems with that. However, he noticed some other issues. With the 50mm body lift and with larger tyres fitted the rear mudflaps were no longer doing their job. Mudflaps have to be a certain distance from the ground and extend past the width of the tyres. New flaps needed to be fitted. He also went on to say that it was just as well the lift was no more than 50mm, because if it had been more than 50mm the car would have to undergo a lane test. That test involved driving the car at speed (I think he said 100kph) and driving between witches' hats, all while being filmed to check how stable the car was in making such sharp steering changes. I'm not sure where such a test could be done. A racetrack, perhaps. The poor brakes issue was due to a rear axle oil leak apparently. As part of his analysis, the engineer took the car to a weighbridge and compared the result to the manufactures load-carrying specs. He said:

Vehicle as presented weighs 1280 kg with less than half a tank of fuel.

Allowing approx 20 kg to fill fuel tank will give an unladen mass of 1300 kg. The gross vehicle mass is 1420 kg. Australian design rules requires 81 kg be allowed for each seating position ie 81 x 4 = 324 kg. This vehicle has available only 120 kg. So, mathematically can carry only the driver.


With all the mods (as noted above) the weight of the car had increased to the point that having any more than me in the vehicle would be illegal. I didn't know what to think. I was stunned! (I was reminded of the movie The Money Pit.)

The rear brakes had to be fixed. Though, $1202 was more than expected. This amount has to be classified as maintenance. It turned out that having ABS on Jimnys is a rare thing and spares were difficult to find.

I can't have a car that can only accommodate the driver. A gross vehicle mass assessment had to be done. So, $2000 later the car was assessed as able to carry four passengers and luggage. It seemed that whoever had done the lift on the vehicle had done it well and the springs could easily cater for the extra weight of all the heavy accessories. A further $500 was provided to remedy the various other items noted on the roadworthy. I now have the most expensive rear mudflaps fitted at $355. I could have fitted the mudflaps myself, but it would have been disappointing to have done so only to discover they weren't within spec by a couple of millimetres or something else I hadn't thought of.

Back to the government vehicle testing station for a retest and the car only just passed on the rear brakes. I pushed as hard as I could on the brake pedal and I couldn't lock them up. I tried twice and couldn't do it. I thought I was going to break the seat I was pressing on that pedal so hard. I flashed the invoice from the brake repair workshop to the officers. I told them the engineer passed the brakes. Three of the officers huddled in a conversation and eventually signed off, passing the roadworthy.

In conversation with the engineer later, he wondered that the testing people didn't know what they were doing. He emphasized the Jimny is a light vehicle and said because of that the rear brakes will be less effective by design. Rear brakes tend to lock up easily on light vehicles.

So, that was that. All that remained was to have a certification plate engraved ($40) and riveted to the vehicle, and inspected by the govt testing centre. Yes, inspected. They had to see the plate riveted to the vehicle before it could be registered.

I'd kept the seller appraised of my experiences from the start. Early on when I discovered the car had a larger engine fitted I was hoping he'd have some certification from an engineer, but he had nothing. He said the engine must have been replaced by the person he bought the car from. In fact, when I bought the car the seller passed along handbooks and manuals amongst which was the roadworthy he had done when registering it in his name which showed the engine number of the 1.6L engine that set things off here in Canberra. The seller very kindly refunded me $500 toward my experience. It helped, of course, but only a little. So, in summary, I paid $15,000 for the car, then additional unexpected costs of $5,659, which was somewhat tempered by the seller's help. All I had to do next was register it.
 

linuxfan66

Active Member
My advice: if it's an engine change - walk away. In regard to other mods, consider the weight factor (of the mod and the vehicle) as well as the possibility that the mod may be breaching some regulation you may be unaware of.

I bought a 2010 Suzuki Jimny not so long ago - $15,000. It's a small car and comes with a 1.3L engine. The seller had reduced the price from $19,000 in the original ad. The car came with a lot of extras and mods, one of which the owner said he had no idea had been done.

The extras that had been fitted included: CB radio, cruise control, roof rack with awning & tent to fit, snorkel, diff and g/box breather extensions, integrated 2nd battery with cutout and voltmeter with power outlets, bull bar with integrated spotlights, light bar, winch, front towbar, rear towbar, under vehicle protection the details of which I'm not quite certain, rock sliders, new springs and shocks and larger dia tyres to raise the car 50mm, rear storage drawer, and an upmarket radio gizmo that seems to include a GPS, video, audio facilities as well as web access that I'm still trying to figure out how to operate. (I can use the radio but hanged if I can figure out the other features.)

The seller even gave me the original front bumper should I wish to remove the bull bar. He also gave me the original rear seats should I wish to replace the rear storage drawer with the seats, and there was other stuff he gave me but I don't want to bore you too much. It seemed a good deal.

So, the one thing the previous owner hadn't told me about was the engine, and I believe him when he later told me he didn't know about it, because he seemed so honest throughout all my dealings with him. I bought the car in Melbourne and when I got back to Canberra I took it to a garage to have the roadworthy done prior to registering it. I very quickly got a phone call from the mechanic saying that he couldn't continue because the engine is non-standard. I was asked to pick it up and take the car to the government vehicle testing centre. He said the standard engine was 1.3L whereas this car had a 1.6L engine.

The Canberra vehicle testing station is something to behold. A huge modern building with two pits running along its length, fitted with a brake dynamometer at one end and facilities to test steering and suspension by wobbling the wheels. Presumably to check for loose joints. Trucks and cars go through this workshop.

My car failed the brake test. The brake dyno is an interesting machine that I never knew existed. With the front wheels over it, I was asked to step on the brake pedal. The machine started and two large rollers rotate to test brake effectiveness, much like an engine dyno. When asked to press harder the rotation had the effect of pushing the car completely off the rollers. That was a pass. When the rear axle was driven onto the rollers, no matter how hard I pushed on the brake pedal the rollers kept turning. Fail. The officers also spotted a front brake line making contact with the body while on full lock. Fail. And, lastly, they spotted the engine issue. So, I paid my $74 for the roadworthy and was asked to take the car to an authorized engineer who would inspect the car and provide an opinion on the non-standard engine. That's standard procedure when the replacement engine has 20% more power than the standard engine.

$1828 later the engineer said the engine work had been done well. No problems with that. However, he noticed some other issues. With the 50mm body lift and with larger tyres fitted the rear mudflaps were no longer doing their job. Mudflaps have to be a certain distance from the ground and extend past the width of the tyres. New flaps needed to be fitted. He also went on to say that it was just as well the lift was no more than 50mm, because if it had been more than 50mm the car would have to undergo a lane test. That test involved driving the car at speed (I think he said 100kph) and driving between witches' hats, all while being filmed to check how stable the car was in making such sharp steering changes. I'm not sure where such a test could be done. A racetrack, perhaps. The poor brakes issue was due to a rear axle oil leak apparently. As part of his analysis, the engineer took the car to a weighbridge and compared the result to the manufactures load-carrying specs. He said:

Vehicle as presented weighs 1280 kg with less than half a tank of fuel.

Allowing approx 20 kg to fill fuel tank will give an unladen mass of 1300 kg. The gross vehicle mass is 1420 kg. Australian design rules requires 81 kg be allowed for each seating position ie 81 x 4 = 324 kg. This vehicle has available only 120 kg. So, mathematically can carry only the driver.


With all the mods (as noted above) the weight of the car had increased to the point that having any more than me in the vehicle would be illegal. I didn't know what to think. I was stunned! (I was reminded of the movie The Money Pit.)

The rear brakes had to be fixed. Though, $1202 was more than expected. This amount has to be classified as maintenance. It turned out that having ABS on Jimnys is a rare thing and spares were difficult to find.

I can't have a car that can only accommodate the driver. A gross vehicle mass assessment had to be done. So, $2000 later the car was assessed as able to carry four passengers and luggage. It seemed that whoever had done the lift on the vehicle had done it well and the springs could easily cater for the extra weight of all the heavy accessories. A further $500 was provided to remedy the various other items noted on the roadworthy. I now have the most expensive rear mudflaps fitted at $355. I could have fitted the mudflaps myself, but it would have been disappointing to have done so only to discover they weren't within spec by a couple of millimetres or something else I hadn't thought of.

Back to the government vehicle testing station for a retest and the car only just passed on the rear brakes. I pushed as hard as I could on the brake pedal and I couldn't lock them up. I tried twice and couldn't do it. I thought I was going to break the seat I was pressing on that pedal so hard. I flashed the invoice from the brake repair workshop to the officers. I told them the engineer passed the brakes. Three of the officers huddled in a conversation and eventually signed off, passing the roadworthy.

In conversation with the engineer later, he wondered that the testing people didn't know what they were doing. He emphasized the Jimny is a light vehicle and said because of that the rear brakes will be less effective by design. Rear brakes tend to lock up easily on light vehicles.

So, that was that. All that remained was to have a certification plate engraved ($40) and riveted to the vehicle, and inspected by the govt testing centre. Yes, inspected. They had to see the plate riveted to the vehicle before it could be registered.

I'd kept the seller appraised of my experiences from the start. Early on when I discovered the car had a larger engine fitted I was hoping he'd have some certification from an engineer, but he had nothing. He said the engine must have been replaced by the person he bought the car from. In fact, when I bought the car the seller passed along handbooks and manuals amongst which was the roadworthy he had done when registering it in his name which showed the engine number of the 1.6L engine that set things off here in Canberra. The seller very kindly refunded me $500 toward my experience. It helped, of course, but only a little. So, in summary, I paid $15,000 for the car, then additional unexpected costs of $5,659, which was somewhat tempered by the seller's help. All I had to do next was register it.
honestly. it was still cheaper and less time consuming than doing the engine swap yourself... so not entirely a bad run. i had to spend some money on my navara i got cheap with issues. but still came out no worse than one that was fully fixed up
 

Mick_Marsh

Active Member
Wow!
Interesting read.

I had no such issue.
And my engine was swapped from a 4cyl to a V8.

How did you go with insurance?
 

Lost1?

Well-Known Member
The difference between what some states will accept or just not check when signing off on an engine number change. Hmmm it's got 4 cylinders and Suzuki stamped on the rocker cover. Thats close enough. Tick.
 

cfish

New Member
Does the car have a brake proportional valve , when you lift an older pre electronic everything vehicle it changes how the brake proportional valve operates and your rear brakes won't work properly, there are fixes if you want to check the older 4wd forums.

Swapping in a bigger Holden Barina engine was common Sierra mod and I suppose it was done to JImny's as well, if you know its a bigger engine and it can pass the emissions standards it not really a problem.
Weight wise the answer is simple, you need to unbolt some stuff, I would definitely lose the roof top tent, maybe consider a half width winch in fits your towbar receivers ,
Anyway your on the road and will surely have a great time now.
 

Ron0z

Active Member
Yes, it was Ray. Very pleasant guy. He just shocked the hell out of me with his prices. He was very good at explaining the issues too. But some pills are bitter, and if swallowing the medicine is the only cure you just have to shut up and swallow. One of the officers at the testing station held him in very high regard.
 

Ron0z

Active Member
Mick_Marsh

That's interesting. In Victoria too. At one point in this saga I wondered if it was a State-based issue. Essentially, I wondered if such things are okay in Vic but not in the ACT. So, I wrote to VicRoads. Part of my thinking was that the guy who did the roadworthy for the guy I bought the car from was incompetent and passed the car without realizing there was an issue. When VicRoads responded they said essentially the same thing: An increase in power by more than 20% will require engineering certification before it can be registered. But to be fair, unless you're familiar with engine numbers you might miss the clue: The engine number should look something like M13A32847 but on mine it says something like M16A32847. Unless you're in the know, the uninitiated might not pick the 13 or the 16 as representing engine capacity. Perhaps an apprentice did the roadworthy.

4 cyl to v8 - that's interesting. Quite a refit. You mention insurance. Are you insured? Perhaps your policy is void due to the non-standard nature of your car. I hate insurance companies. They can be very accommodating when they have no choice but to pay out, but they're also very good at worming their way out of things. Changing your engine might be just the grounds for them to win a court battle. If you kill a child and it's no fault of your own but as the owner of the car, the magistrate might find against you. It could ruin your life in more ways than one. If you are going to keep the car it might be worth considering getting it certified as roadworthy with the larger engine.

I've never been one for insurance, myself. Though, I'm having second thoughts as I've never owned a $20,000 car before.



cfish

Actually, I had never heard of a 'proportional valve' until I heard one of the officers at the testing station going on about it. I thought it was something I had to have fitted, but I didn't understand him. He asked me to pop the bonnet, and yes it does, apparently. I must say I don't quite get the idea. I was an apprentice mechanic. So, I understand certain things about brakes, but had never come across this thing. I listened to what the guy said, but I didn't get it. The relative diameters of the internals of wheel cylinders and calliper pistons would provide a proportional lever effect when the braking system was designed. And the car has ABS fitted. I'm still missing the point. Perhaps it's redundant on this car.

Actually, in regard to the engine, the engineer said the work had been done very well. An emissions test was done, and he was impressed, saying that if I had to be locked in a garage with the engine running I'd die of starvation before poisoning from the emissions. A joke, of course, but the point got across. He was very happy with the car and was often saying how well the mods had been done. So, I've got a car that's more expensive than I wanted, but by all accounts, I have a good one.

Anyway, happily, I can keep all the mods, and have 4 people inside, and luggage, and stuff on the roof rack, and still be legal. It's such a relief.
 

linuxfan66

Active Member
Mick_Marsh

4 cyl to v8 - that's interesting. Quite a refit. You mention insurance. Are you insured? Perhaps your policy is void due to the non-standard nature of your car. I hate insurance companies. They can be very accommodating when they have no choice but to pay out, but they're also very good at worming their way out of things. Changing your engine might be just the grounds for them to win a court battle. If you kill a child and it's no fault of your own but as the owner of the car, the magistrate might find against you. It could ruin your life in more ways than one. If you are going to keep the car it might be worth considering getting it certified as roadworthy with the larger engine.

pretty sure as long as you have it full mod plated when you insure it and disclose the mods, they cant get out of it. but if you dont disclose a major mod and they find it could have contributed to the accident though very different beast
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
There is no way on earth you could get a V8 into a 4 cylinder car in Vic now, the other week I heard that is now impossible to get a LS swop into a Patrol which used to be common place, they have also made roll cages a non engineering item.
The world, well mainly Australia has become the pinnacle in nanny state mentality
 

Mick_Marsh

Active Member
Mick_Marsh

4 cyl to v8 - that's interesting. Quite a refit. You mention insurance. Are you insured? Perhaps your policy is void due to the non-standard nature of your car. I hate insurance companies. They can be very accommodating when they have no choice but to pay out, but they're also very good at worming their way out of things. Changing your engine might be just the grounds for them to win a court battle. If you kill a child and it's no fault of your own but as the owner of the car, the magistrate might find against you. It could ruin your life in more ways than one. If you are going to keep the car it might be worth considering getting it certified as roadworthy with the larger engine.

I've never been one for insurance, myself. Though, I'm having second thoughts as I've never owned a $20,000 car before.
Lots of assumptions there.
Currently, not insured.
This is because Shannons screwed me over on the Territory. They wrote it off for under $6,000 of damage and paid me out $10,500 on a car that, at the time, would cost $16,000 to replace. As a result, I cancelled all my insurances with Shannons, Vero and Suncorp which are brand names of the AAI group of companies.
So, the vehicle was insured from 1992 till about three years ago.
Oh, I repaired the Territory and have driven a further 120,000km in it since.
When the modified vehicle was insured, the insurance company was advised of the modifications.

Like in your case, the modifications were done by the previous owner, however, unlike in your case, the previous owner had the engineering done. It sailed through the roadworthy. Both the registration authority and insurance company were given a copy of the engineering report. Yes, it is a keeper and "certified".

I never venture on to the road unless I have at least third party property insurance in addition to the third party insurance attached to the registration.
 

Krumpy

Member
I've heard in the past that even if you're engineered an overzealous officer can still defect you which would be a total PITA to have to rectify. It was on FB so I can't vouch for the authenticity of the claims?
 

Mick_Marsh

Active Member
I've heard in the past that even if you're engineered an overzealous officer can still defect you which would be a total PITA to have to rectify. It was on FB so I can't vouch for the authenticity of the claims?
I met a fellow who was defected for an illegal turbo.
The young policeman pointed to the offending item which was, in fact, an alternator.
The owner still had to present his vehicle for inspection.

And a mate was defected for a smoky exhaust. He tried to explain it was condensation but still had to front up to the EPA to have it tested.

These tests cost the owners money. It's a way of fining when you cannot be fined.
 

smitty_r51

Well-Known Member
I've heard in the past that even if you're engineered an overzealous officer can still defect you which would be a total PITA to have to rectify. It was on FB so I can't vouch for the authenticity of the claims?
yup, i was told it was best to keep a copy of the GVM engineers reports in the glovebox in case of a uneducated highway patrol stopping and arguing it. up to you to prove it is legal rather than them to prove it isn't :|
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
I had a similar experience with the police years ago with a modified failane, gas only and they wanted to defect me because the pollution gear was removed…
Nothing but an attempt at revenue raising
 

linuxfan66

Active Member
This is because Shannons screwed me over on the Territory. They wrote it off for under $6,000 of damage and paid me out $10,500 on a car that, at the time, would cost $16,000 to replace. As a result, I cancelled all my insurances with Shannons, Vero and Suncorp which are brand names of the AAI group of companies.
So, the vehicle was insured from 1992 till about three years ago.
Oh, I repaired the Territory and have driven a further 120,000km in it since.
When the modified vehicle was insured, the insurance company was advised of the modifications.
can you tell me more about this story. and to confirm you meant a ford territory?
 

Mick_Marsh

Active Member
can you tell me more about this story. and to confirm you meant a ford territory?
Why do you want to know? Are you worried because you are insured with a member of the AAI group of companies?

My story is all over social media with photo's. IIRC, I even posted it up on the Shannons facebook page.

Is there any other kind of Territory?
 

linuxfan66

Active Member
Why do you want to know? Are you worried because you are insured with a member of the AAI group of companies?

My story is all over social media with photo's. IIRC, I even posted it up on the Shannons facebook page.

Is there any other kind of Territory?
ford teritory was introduced in 2004 unless you took it back in time to 1992(so there is something i dont understand). so the is more than one kind of ford territory. i went looking for your social media posts and i am having trouble finding them. i had i similar experience with being screwed over by insurance evaluations so was curious to understand it more.
 
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