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Legalities of Non Certified Bullbars

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Legalities of Non Certified Bullbars

Does a homemade or custom bullbar make a vehicle unroadworthy? I have been thinking about making a custom bar for a while but after speaking to a few mates they seem to think that it would (a) Make the airbags a liability as they may deploy early or late depending on the situation... (b) My insurance would be void for both vehicle accidents and public liability if I hit a pedestrian.

Anyone shed any light on the topic?
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Unread postby 4oddinchalift » September 13th, 2009, 1:17 pm


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Sounds about right. Insurance companies will use any and all means to avoid a payout. A non-certified bar would be an easy gate for them to use if someone was injured or killed in an accident. I would closely look into it before making one up.
Plenty of the guys on this forum have diy bars so you should get some good feedback.

Cheers. :thumb:

Unread postby Tractor88 » September 13th, 2009, 1:38 pm


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4oddinchalift wrote:Does a homemade or custom bullbar make a vehicle unroadworthy? I have been thinking about making a custom bar for a while but after speaking to a few mates they seem to think that it would (a) Make the airbags a liability as they may deploy early or late depending on the situation... (b) My insurance would be void for both vehicle accidents and public liability if I hit a pedestrian.

Anyone shed any light on the topic?


Yes it does make it unroadworthy and defectable. If vehicle is fitted with airbags bullbar needs to be certified for use on a vehicle with airbags. Insurance companies would prob still try and get out of paying for an accident even if DIY bar was certified. If making one my self i would get it certified and get it written on paper by the insurance company that they would pay out in the event of an accident. Unfortunately these days everything needs to be written and signed on a piece of paper!

Good luck with the building of one.

Unread postby Brooko » September 13th, 2009, 2:08 pm


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For the bar itself, anything goes so long as there is no sharp edges and is relatively "pedestrian friendly".

For non-airbag equipped vehicles there is no limitations on mounting. But obviously it should be sturdy yet not be excessively heavy. Incorporate some good recovery points while you're at it too.:)
For airbag equipped vehicles there's certainly more to consider. They'll have a crumple zone section on the front ends of the chassis. If you can mount your bar on to these without affecting the way they would crumple in an accident you should be fine. Certainly won't be as sturdy as without them, but if your bar isn't too heavy it should be adequate. This is where you should have a chat with an engineer. He should be able to set you straight and even help design the mountings to suit your rig.

Having said all that, I haven't actually done one. My rig will be a category NB1, over 3500kg. No airbags or crumple zones are required.

Unread postby DJR96 » September 13th, 2009, 3:43 pm


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Tractor88 wrote:Sounds about right. Insurance companies will use any and all means to avoid a payout. A non-certified bar would be an easy gate for them to use if someone was injured or killed in an accident. I would closely look into it before making one up.
Plenty of the guys on this forum have diy bars so you should get some good feedback.

Cheers. :thumb:


interesting so can someone actually tell me what a "Certified" bull bar is ?

As far as I can find reading ADR's Code or practice and talking to a lot of people in the industry there is NO SUCH THING .......

There are air bag compatible bull bars for vehicles whose manufactures prohibit the fitting of non compatible equipment but this has nothing to do with approval.

About the only thing that I can see anyone doing you for as such would be intentionally disabling a piece of safety equipment which would be viewed as an illegal modification.

I could be wrong and look forward to someone posting a link to support that there is some sort of bull bar approval ...

Having said that a lot of the manufactures use inertia activation on their air bags so a bull bar will have no effect, others use crumple zone activation which can be accounted for by fitting the bull bar fwd of the zone.

Unread postby SteelArt » September 13th, 2009, 4:13 pm


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Interesting, thanks for the replies. I had a look at the arb site their video on bullbars and airbags. If the brackets have to be that complex then to hell with the idea. If I did make one it'd be built like a brick ****house as i'll be doing some heavy winching.

Anyone know how the ARB bars go after a few serious winch recoverys? Given the design of the mount at least on the 200 series off the video I would think that would compromise the outright strength of the bar. A mate had a TJM bar on his GQ which looked a bit sus after a few heavy winch recoverys. (Knowing him probably from the night before!)
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Unread postby 4oddinchalift » September 13th, 2009, 4:21 pm


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That's pretty much my view of it too SteelArt.

"Approved/compatible" to me means that it doesn't interfere with other safety equipment design, ie. airbags and crumple zones. Manufacturers of after-market bars test their bars to ensure this and give confidence to buyers and their industry. I'm not sure they even legally have to.:confused:

The winch mounting behind the bar could be attached to the chassis behind the crumple zones, with just the fairlead attached to the bar. So long as there is a big enough gap between the bar and winch to allow for the chassis to crumple in its zone.
OR. It wouldn't take much to reinforce the crumple zone to handle greater loads under tension (winching) without increasing the force required to compress it (crashing). Then the winch could still be mounted in the bar.

The actual design used will be very dependant on the design of the vehicle you're working with.


Until there is some law that directly prohibits/denies us the freedom to build our own parts in a sensible manner (a sad day that would be and worth fighting against:mad:), I say go for it!

As for insurance. I for one don't like them dictating what I can or can't do like that. Shop around, I'm sure you'll find one that will cover you.

Unread postby DJR96 » September 13th, 2009, 4:57 pm


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does the winch mount to the arb bar or to the chassis? If to the bar is it possible to mount it to the chassis instead?

Surely the actuation of the airbag is primarily from some sort of accelerometer yes? So therefore even if the crumple zone is compromised by the bar mounting the airbag should still activate right? I admit to really knowing nothing about airbags save they break alot of peoples noses and jaws.
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Unread postby 4oddinchalift » September 13th, 2009, 5:14 pm


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Given the complexities of air bag actuation (each vehicle is different in sensor location etc) and the big $$ you have invested I would play it safe and just get one that a reputable company has certified.

Its a long bow to draw but it would be a lifetime of wow if your bar did effect the deployment and you lost a loved one because of it. When I was doing Collision Investigations in the 90's we noticed a lot of people walking away from BIG collisions and probably fatal without airbags.

I know a lot of people bag airbags, but i reckon they are great and should be given every opportunity to help when the moron hits you.

Unread postby dazzler66 » September 13th, 2009, 6:05 pm


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http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/2D28EC58-F640-4467-BD3B-D0F439EEBBF6/0/VSI1.pdf

A homemade bullbar cannot show compliance with ADR 69 and/or 73, so you're probly going to have some dramas.

Unread postby dawesius » September 13th, 2009, 6:22 pm


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dawesius wrote:http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/2D28EC58-F640-4467-BD3B-D0F439EEBBF6/0/VSI1.pdf

A homemade bullbar cannot show compliance with ADR 69 and/or 73, so you're probly going to have some dramas.



Well I dont plan on barrier testing my bar as I may damage my front grill ;)

ARB bar it is. I will have to do a custom rear bar instead to meet my insatiable need to tinker with things :D
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Unread postby 4oddinchalift » September 13th, 2009, 6:29 pm


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That VicRoads VSI1 document smacks of the preverbial arse covering. The lack of latitude frustrates me no end.:mad: Fortunately it doesn't affect me though.:)

It's all good common sense stuff, and I like the no forward protrusions including light mounting brackets and fishing rod holders. But it's just the "demonstrate compliance with ADR69 & 73" bit that leaves no practical options. Any engineer or even knowledgeable home mechanic could easily replicate the mounting methods used by the vehicles manufacturer for their factory-fitted bullbar. That sure ain't rocket science and does not need crash testing. It doesn't take much lateral thinking and analysis to realise that by doing this that it would behave in a very similar manner to the factory set-up.

Yet documents like the above don't allow people to even consider it basically.:mad:


However, what vehicles does this apply to??

Australian Design Rule 69/00 — Full
Frontal Impact Occupant Protection.

Applicable to "new model" vehicles first produced with a 'Date of manufacture' on or after:-
1 July 1995 for MA vehicles (passenger cars <2.5t GVM),
1 January 1998 for MB & MC vehicles (minivans & off-road passenger cars <2.5t GVM), and
1 July 1998 for NA1 vehicles (light goods vehicles <2.7t GVM).



Australian Design Rule 73/00 — Offset Frontal Impact Occupant Protection.

Only applicable to
"new model" vehicles first produced with a 'Date of manufacture' on or after 1 January 2000 for MA vehicles (passenger cars <2.5t GVM).


Note that airbags are NOT mandatory. However manufacturers usually fit them to be able to comply with this ADR. Some models may be able to pass the ADR without the use of airbags.

MA, MB, MC vehicles over 2.5t GVM and NA2 vehicles (over 2.7t GVM) do not need to comply with this ADR, although they may have airbags fitted and may well comply.

So check what category and GVM your vehicle is. It's on the compliance plates.

You may find your rig does not need to comply and therefore you don't need to "demonstrate compliance" for your custom/home made bullbar.

It would be great if a few people could post here:- what their rig is, category, and GVM as per your compliance plate. It would start to paint a better picture of what is and what isn't affected by ADR 69.

Unread postby DJR96 » September 13th, 2009, 9:04 pm


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I would also look into what is needed to demonstrate compliance with ADR69 & 73.

Having spent many years build ICV's and dealing with this crap on a daily basis it never ceases to amuse me how many people take guidelines / ADR's etc as a brick wall when often it is more of a box ticking / ass covering speed hump.

The ADR's are in a lot of cases a guide and used by many as an excuse when in fact most of them say very little and throw it back to "Good Engineering Practice"

Take the ADR's on windscreens and wipers ...... yep PITA to meet, so you simply do not have a windscreen fitted and thus you do not have to comply. Stupid yes, allowed under the rules yes ....

I have built bull bars for air bag compatible vehicles and after many hours talking to manufactures about what their specific requirements are most agreed that it would have no effect on the actual operation of the air bag as they had multiple forms of initiation and on most models the chassis distortion (crumple zone) was the last method of deployment due to the unknowns of the contact surface on impact. Take for example getting airborne and landing on the roof, do you want the air bag to deploy ?? Yep well it ain't going to if it sits back and waits for its crumple zone to be compromised.

Have a look at the Air Bag ADR and specifications ....

Unread postby SteelArt » September 13th, 2009, 9:29 pm


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You and I think alike buddy.:thumb:

There's a lot of doubt and mystery about how airbags work. When they first came out there was all sorts of methods to deploy them. Nowadays it seems to be a bit more standardised and simpler. Most are not much more than a steel ball held in place by a magnet, that forms an electrical circuit. If it is jarred hard enough the ball will dislodge from the magnet and break the circuit triggering the airbags. It is oriented in a certain direction and mounted directly to the body/passenger compartment. It's not going to care what damage is done else where on the vehicle unless it is a big enough shock to the body as well. It shouldn't go off if you're hit from behind either.
Having some understanding of how they work will reduce the mystery of them and you'll realise what and why it's all about.


From what I've gathered just tonight and described in my previous post, all 'Cruisers, Patrols, Rovers and pretty much most of the heavier duty 4WD's that are popular with everyone here would not have a problem with a home-made bullbar.
Understandably though, after-market manufacturers want their products to maintain a vehicles compliance whether it is legally required to or not. If a vehicle complies, no point "undoing" that compliance. Besides, they can make some extra dollars from it along the way.


It is very fortunate that the ADR's at least have some latitude in them. If nothing else, at least what vehicles must comply with them.
As a community we should respect and be grateful of that latitude, and not jump up and down demanding tighter controls with them. As some would no doubt will try to do unfortunately. NSW VSI-50 for example.......:rolleyes::crazy:


Come on guys. Lets see some examples.

Toyota Hilux, NA1, 2520kg GVM. But being a 1985 model it's older than the ADR 69, so no issue at all.

I'm curious to know what category a Delica is? MB, MC?

Unread postby DJR96 » September 14th, 2009, 12:24 am


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The specific's of bull bar manufacture and design are well covered in the ADR's and there's also specific's on the competency of the person/manufacturer who makes one eg: recognised standard engineering practices. but........... i.e: some people should not be allowed near a drawing board or a welder lol. I've seen some shockingly made or modified bars over time.
Air bag compatible bars? Well as long as you can design a bar that will still allow the air bags to work within their set parameters you'll have no problems and the only real way to test it is crash testing but there are way too many variables in impact zones which is why manufacturers use other methods of bag deployment as SteelArt said.
Did anyone know that if your vehicles air bags are a factory option and not standard fitment that you are allowed under the rules to disable them or remove them altogether. Not that you'd want to though but for some it's the only way to get around fitting custom barwork legally.
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Unread postby sudso » September 14th, 2009, 12:45 am


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