Owners of Ford’s Everest 4WD concerned about the legality of aftermarket modifications to their vehicles can breathe easier following Ford’s recent Australian Design Rule (ADR) reclassification of its award-winning off roader.
Identified by the letters ‘MC’ on the compliance plate, this change applies to all Everest 4WD models produced from January 2017 to ensure that aftermarket modifications to suit the off-road requirements of individual owners are not restricted by the vehicle’s original ‘MA’ classification.
Put simply, MC classification depends on specific off-road features and design elements, whereas MA applies to all passenger vehicles that lack these off-road features and are also not forward-control (like a HiAce van) with up to nine seating positions.
Of equal importance to existing owners is that all Everest 4WD vehicles displaying MA on their compliance plates are also now legally recognised and treated as MC vehicles in the eyes of the law.
Confusion over the legality of aftermarket modifications has stemmed from Ford Australia’s original decision to group both its Everest 4WD and Everest RWD models under the same MA vehicle classification as defined by the ADRs.
For example, fitment of larger tyres is permitted under MA but larger and more aggressive heavy duty off-road tyres are allowed under MC.
In simple terms, MA defines a passenger vehicle that is not designed for off-road use while MC defines a passenger vehicle that is. An MC vehicle features not only 4WD transmission but also meets unique technical requirements relating to approach angles, break-over angles, departure angles, suspension clearance and ground clearance.
As a result, there are key differences in what aftermarket modifications can be applied to MA and MC vehicles and these can vary between Australian states and territories, hence the confusion over what was and wasn’t legal.
According to Ford Australia, the two key areas of concern for owners were fitment of larger off-road tyres and the height to which the vehicle could be raised when equipped with modified suspension. Some Everest 4WD owners were worried about potential vehicle warranty and insurance problems resulting from these types of modifications.
For example, fitment of larger tyres is permitted under MA but larger and more aggressive heavy duty off-road tyres are allowed under MC. Not only are off-road tyres usually larger, they also tend to have lower speed ratings than MA tyres, hence the potential for insurance problems if the vehicle is involved in a road accident.
To fit larger tyres also usually requires the suspension to be raised for adequate underbody clearance. Although these types of suspension changes under MA are also legal, some states and territories allow for higher suspension lifts for MC-rated vehicles.
Fact is, even though Australian Design Rules are applied on a national basis, state and territory transport authorities (and insurance companies) tend to have their own interpretations, which is what creates many grey areas for owners.
We should point out that the Everest 4WD is not the only MC-compliant off-roader sold in Australia with an MA rating, so Ford is not alone in dealing with this complex issue. The company should also be commended for listening to its customers and addressing their concerns.
Our best advice for Everest 4WD owners is to contact their insurance company to determine if there are any issues relating to planned or existing modifications to their vehicles. Ford Australia is also keen to answer any queries owners may have regarding this issue, either through Ford Customer Service on 133-673, on Twitter @fordaustralia, via Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org