GVM upgrade doesn't match seating capacity - legality?

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:07
ThreadID: 145286 Views:3187 Replies:13 FollowUps:7
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I came across something interesting today in regards to a GVM upgrade. I was looking at buying an older single cab 79 series land cruiser. I’m after a 2014 or older as I need the 3-seater ute which unfortunately no one makes anymore. (yes I know I can get a skinny seat jammed between the buckets, but the flat 2 seater bench seat more comfortable for 2) I found one that was quite good and it had a GVM upgrade (which I don’t need, but happy to have it) however I noticed the new second stage compliance certificate states SEATS 2, even though the original one states SEATS 3.
Nothing has been done to the inside of the vehicle, so I am assuming it was just a clerical error when they printed off the compliance certificate however it’s been put on the car and into the system, so I am wondering where they stand legally? I’ve walked away from the deal, although out of curiosity I may ask motor registry and the GVM product seller if it can be rectified or even remove the GVM upgrade and revert to standard limits? I wonder if the car is even considered road worthy by having 3 seating positions in it, whereas technically it should now only have 2? I have read several posts about rego issues when seat numbers don’t match compliance plate numbers. I said to the seller they should look into it, just interested on what others think?
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Reply By: Member - Wooly - Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:19

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:19
Is it a GXL or a workmate?

There may be some difference there perhaps?
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Follow Up By: tonysmc - Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:31

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:31
Its a Workmate. Only the workmate and GX are 3 seaters but can have an option of only 2 seats. The GLX only come with 2 seats.
This one came out with 3 seats and still has them.
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:44

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023 at 23:44
Tony, my guess would be that they removed the original 3 seat combo to fit a pair of superior buckets and had the engineers inspection and compliance plate fitted. Then reverted to the original 3 seats before offering it for sale without doing the compliance thing back to 3 seats. Norty.

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Reply By: Kenell - Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 07:38

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 07:38
A similar thing happened to a close relative. He bought a 79 series 4 door ute new. Sent it off to have a GVM upgrade done prior to registering it. He was told it was ready and was about to pick it up when the crowd who did the upgrade called him and said they had made a mistake when completing the paperwork for the registration. They put it down as a 4 seater when it was designed to be a 5 seater and had 5 seatbelts etc. They had to go through a process with the registration authority to cancel the registration, remove the compliance plate, and re do it as a 5 seater. Took about a week from memory.

So my guess would be your example is probably an error that wasn't picked up. It can probably be rectified with a bit of stuffing about but like you I wouldn't want it unless it was right.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 08:16

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 08:16
This makes sense. The cost of a recertification should only be the cost of the certifying engineers signature, and then the reregistration fee.


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Reply By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 08:09

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 08:09
You could have another engineer modify the plate back to to a 3 seater provided of course they were will to do so.
The change would be no different to any other modification you wanted to do. There can be multiple certificates on a vehicle from different engineers so they are not taking on the responsibility of the other modifications but may still reference the other modifications as a part of their certificate
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Reply By: Member - DOZER - Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 09:41

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 09:41
Tony, it does not comply with registration, there are ramifictions to consider regarding 3rd party insurance should someone get hurt in an incident. It would be easy enough to make the gvm upgrade comply, just remove the 3rd seatbelt, but i note you require it, and not the gvm,so deregistering it, handing in plates, blue slipping, etc is one way to return to std settings, or pay another engineer to redo the seats another. (i would suspect ride would be harder with the gvm upgrade too)
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 11:08

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023 at 11:08
There is a lot of guessing going on here. I suggest you contact a certifying engineer and ask him what he can do for you regarding the situation.
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Reply By: Member - Mark161 - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 at 14:51

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 at 14:51
I still have my original seats out of my 2008 workmate. A single bucket and a two seater, which I took out and fitted a pair of aftermarket buckets.

If they are any use to you?
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Reply By: tonysmc - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 at 19:29

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 at 19:29
Thanks for all the replies. As I said in my original post I had walked away from the deal and was just curious as to whether others thought the vehicle was actually legal as it stood? I didn’t think it was. Well, curiosity got the better of me and I spoke with 3 different companies which do GVM upgrades.
Just to clear some things up, the car has the original 3 seating positions still in it. One driver’s seat and the 2 seater bench seat, (thanks for the offer Mark161) I am 99% sure these have never been removed from the car. What I have found out is, the GVM upgrade was done prior to its first registration. Because of this and because it’s been registered for a number of years now, even if I deregistered it and try to re-register it, even without the GVM upgrade, it will still and always be regarded as a 2-seater because it is in the system as manufactured as a 2-seater! (This probably could have been changed if identified when very first registered but not now)
Now here’s where it gets really crazy, and please don’t shoot the messenger, just what I was told by the companies that sign off on it. I now cannot have anyone sign it off or provide a certificate to be a 3-seater with the original seat (which are currently in the vehicle) I can use it as a 2-seater if the seat belt for the third seat is removed. One company said the only way they could return it to a 3-seater and certify it, is to remove all the original Toyota seats and replace with 2 bucket seats and a small third seat in between the 2 bucket seats! I had a chuckle about that option as it defeated the whole purpose of buying the older car in the first place. Even as the guy was telling me this, he was shaking his head and explained how they are heavenly legislated with what they are allowed to do. The other 2 companies said much the same about legislation. Thanks again everyone and I'll stick with my old 75 series for now.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 at 19:53

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023 at 19:53
I built our OKA motorhome almost 20 years ago. I consulted a relevant approved engineer throughout the build. I remember one conversation I had with him regarding seats with seatbelts in the rear of the vehicle. They were sideways facing and had a table between them. Looking at the "rules", it was clear to me that they did not comply unless I had the table removable. I talked to him about it and his words are etched in my memory to this day.
"If everything you did was in strict accordance with the rules, you would not need me."
The seats with seat belts were duly approved and the table stays in place.
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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023 at 10:13

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023 at 10:13
Another snippet on seat changes in a ute.

Mine is an '06 GU Patrol, originally a 3 seater (1 bucket seat & a 1.5 bench seat with no middle console)

A number of years ago I changed to two bucket seats & centre console, a direct swap with someone who had an ST ute & wanted the extra seat, including different 'plates around the gear levers to one which had the mounting point for the centre console & a different handbrake lever to suit the centre console. We had the 2 cars side by side to swap everything required.

Everything bolted in using existing (factory) mounting points.

To ensure I did things correctly I took the car, now with 2 seats to VicRoads to be examined as per the requirements on their web site. The VicRoads staff were essentially uninterested, but one came out & just looked through the window & said "Ah yes, 2 seats" & that was it.

When I requested proof of the examination I was told they couldn't do that, because they were unable to change the registration details, & for me not to be concerned about it. I followed this up with an email enquiry & was told the same again.

So my Vin Plate still says seats 3 & I still have 2 seats.

This was unrelated to the GVM upgrade I had had done previous to the seat change, so no mention of seats on the blue mod plate.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023 at 16:59

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023 at 16:59
I did similar with an F350 some years ago and the SA RTA issued a seating mod plate on the spot and the rego was duly changed too.
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Reply By: Nifty1 - Friday, Feb 03, 2023 at 11:51

Friday, Feb 03, 2023 at 11:51
VicRoads can’t alter this sort of registration detail without a VASS certificate, I believe. They will happily look at what you have, recognise that it is described incorrectly, then go ahead and re register it that way (I’ve been through this recently). My Hilux with a fixed camper back had always been registered, in 3 different states over a period of 12 years, as a ”Ute”. But I couldn’t get a GVM upgrade done without also changing the description to “Camper”, and that alone was going to cost in excess of $2000. I find it astonishing that Vicroads know of the problem, turn a blind eye to it, and acknowledge that thousands of vehicles are incorrectly described and at risk of being put off the road by a zealous cop, or denied an insurance payout because they are technically unregistered. For me, I figured the risk of actually having a problem was very small, but the consequences could potentially be enormous. I think you made a good decision to walk away.
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 at 18:59

Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 at 18:59
Here is what I found on the Vic Roads web site today.

It basically says the same as I was told some years ago re changing seats. Note though that increasing seats is a different matter to changing or reducing the number of seats. Different too in heavy vehicles.

Two pics, couldn't get it all on one screenshot.

Note the last paragraph in the second pic. "That was the advice I followed & was met with disinterest by the Vicroads staff 5 or 6 years ago.

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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 at 19:54

Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 at 19:54
Once again we have this crazy situation of different rules in differing States. Same roads, same vehicles, and same ADR, but differing Rules!

In Queensland some years ago when I was purchasing my Troopy, the selling owner had removed the rear side benches thus reducing the seating capacity from 11 to 3 without engineering inspection/approval and therefore not in accord with the compliance plate. The mechanic doing the roadworthy inspection rejected the vehicle until an engineer inspected and fitted a Modification Plate for "3 seats". The roadworthy cert. was then approved and the sale proceeded. Soon after, I had the original front 3 seats replaced with a pair of Stratos suspension buckets and had to have another engineer inspection and a new modification plate.

More recently, with the new Sprinter, I was limited in choice in changing my tyres to AT style due to the high GVM rating of the Sprinter. With it all fitted out as a Camper Van it weighed well below plated GVM so I sought to have the GVM lowered a little to open up the tyre choice. No way is this possible….. Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads advised that this is not possible as there is no Design Certification for lowering a GVM. There is no actual ruling about lowering a GVM, it is simply not recognised as a permissible modification. Fortunately, I did find some acceptable AT tyres that satisfy the required load rating.


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Follow Up By: Genny - Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 at 22:23

Saturday, Feb 04, 2023 at 22:23
Yet when buying the likes of an Iveco Daily, or Fuso canter, you can opt to specify the GVM at 4.5t simply to enable the vehicle to be driven on a normal car license. No actual change to the vehicle at all.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Feb 05, 2023 at 07:50

Sunday, Feb 05, 2023 at 07:50
Genny I think the big difference would be that the manufacture offers the vehicle in the two weight variants so it is not a “ modification “ as such
I know they don’t physically change anything but they are certifying it to be roadworthy in either category

Alans situation is crazy though
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Feb 05, 2023 at 11:06

Sunday, Feb 05, 2023 at 11:06
Alby, I was constrained somewhat by the OEM 16" wheels and did not wish to change them.
I just needed to try harder, that's all. lol

Incidentally, they were Falken 245/75R16 AT's @ $325 each. Falken seem to have a good reputation and the 10mm increase in diameter makes my speedo read almost spot-on.
And retaining the GVM of 6100kg means I can carry more beer! Win-win?

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Reply By: Member - DOZER - Thursday, Feb 09, 2023 at 10:27

Thursday, Feb 09, 2023 at 10:27
If a vehicle is modified pre first rego, it becomes an un modified vehicle in that configuration ie 2 seats. You were wise to walk away, and yes you could have bought and drove forever without an issue, BUT, if through no fault of your own, there is an injury from a collision, insurance, coroner, whatever wouldnt want to know you.
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