Online Vehicle Safety or Non-Compliance Reporting Form Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen with my report?

Your report will be assessed by a Departmental officer to decide if it will be investigated. Even when an investigation is not undertaken, the information you provide in your report will help the Department to identify ongoing and widespread safety issues in motor vehicles across Australia. Information gathered from the online safety reporting form may also be used for auditing and investigation purposes. All reports are kept securely on file within the Department and used to analyse trends or identify reoccurring issues over time.

Not all matters reported to the Department will be investigated. If the Department requires further information in relation to your report a Departmental officer will contact you.

Will my report lead to an investigation?

Whether or not a report is investigated will depend on a number of factors including the nature and seriousness of the defects or issues reported and whether or not other similar complaints have been received. Priority is usually given to matters that have resulted in an injury or issues reported to the Department by Coroners, Police etc.

Can the Department help me with a dispute I am having with a vehicle manufacturer?

The Department is not a consumer advocate and we are not able to act on an individual's behalf. The Department cannot become involved in disputes with vehicle manufacturers or dealers; nor can we assist if you are dissatisfied with your vehicle or its performance. If you are concerned by the product quality or service you have been provided for your vehicle, you may wish to discuss the matter with the consumer protection agency in your state or territory. Contact details for consumer protection agencies in each state or territory can be found on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's website

How will my information be used?

The information you supply to the Department will be kept securely in the Department and used to identify ongoing and widespread safety issues in motor vehicles. The details you provide may be given to other regulatory authorities such as state and territory registration authorities or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for the purposes of identifying systemic safety issues in the Australian vehicle fleet.

What is an Approval Number?

The online safety reporting form asks for an Approval Number if known. These are unique numbers provided by the Department regarding motor vehicles. Providing the relevant Approval Number when reporting a concern to the Department will assist in identifying what vehicle(s) may be relevant and how the vehicle has been imported to Australia or supplied to the market.

Identification Plate Approval (IPA)

An IPA number is a unique number that indicates that a type of vehicle has been approved for supply to the Australian market under Motor Vehicle Standards legislation.

You can find the IPA number on the identification plate on your vehicle. An identification plate is fitted to vehicles and is either a metal plate or an adhesive label that contains important information relating to the vehicle.

Identification plates can generally be found in one of the following places:

  • the boot;
  • the engine bay; or
  • left hand side front row door jamb or B pillar (the pillar next to or just behind the front row of seats).

An example of a typical identification plate can be seen below.

Click to view larger image

Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) approval number

A used vehicle that is imported to Australia may be supplied to the market by a Registered Automotive Workshop (RAW). These vehicles will have an approval number shown on the used import plate, an example of which is below. This plate can usually be found in one of the following places:

  • in the boot;
  • the engine bay; or
  • left hand side front row door jamb or B pillar (the pillar next to or just behind the front row of seats).

Click to view larger image

Vehicle Import Approvals

A Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) is a document, issued by the Department which approves the importation of a vehicle into Australia. The VIA number is found at the top right of the approval document as can be seen below:

Click to view larger image

What is a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?

The VIN is a unique identification or serial number for a trailer or motor vehicle. The VIN is different to the engine number or chassis number. VINs are always 17 digits in length and are a combination of letters and numbers.

Vehicles manufactured prior to 1989 may not have a 17 digit VIN. These vehicles usually have a chassis number which will be unique to that vehicle and can be used to identify it.

The VIN may be found in a number of places including:

  • the vehicle's identification plate;
  • a used import plate;
  • the owner's manual; or
  • registration and/or inspection papers.

What is the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)?

The GVM of a vehicle is the maximum laden mass as specified by the manufacturer.

Depending on the type of vehicle this may be found on the vehicle's identification plate or manufacturers build plate. The location of these plates may vary, but generally can be found on the inside of the door jamb, in the engine bay or in the boot.

What is the Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)?

The GTM is the mass transmitted to the ground by the tyres of the trailer when coupled to a towing vehicle and carrying the maximum load recommended by the manufacturer or importer, approximately uniformly distributed over the load bearing area.

The GTM can generally be found on a manufacturers build plate. This plate is often found on the drawbar or ‘A’ frame.

What is the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)?

The ATM of a trailer is the total mass of the trailer when carrying the maximum load recommended by the manufacturer. This includes mass imposed onto the towing vehicle when the combination vehicle is resting on a horizontal supporting plane.

The ATM can generally be found on a trailer's identification plate or manufacturers build plate. This plate is often found on the drawbar or ‘A’ frame of the trailer.

Whether or not a report is investigated will depend on a number of factors including the nature and seriousness of the defects or issues reported and whether or not other similar complaints have been received. Priority is usually given to matters that have resulted in an injury or issues reported to the Department by Coroners, Police etc.

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Last Updated: 15 February, 2016