Most drivers are content with the standard design of a vehicle that manufacturers release. However, some gearheads aren't satisfied with having an ordinary vehicle and want to stand out from the crowd. For example, they get a thrill from owning a vehicle painted in orange. While the paint is the starting point of modifying a vehicle, car junkies can take the modification to a whole new level. Fitting bigger tires on the rims and decorating the vehicle with lights are the norm. While movies such as Fast and the Furious have given us plenty of ideas for how to modify our vehicles, some of the modifications are illegal. The authorities have set laws against certain modifications, as it deems those recreations to be a danger to other road users. For example, while installing additional lights on your pickup may grant you extra visibility and make you feel more masculine, the authorities have deemed that your additional lighting could prevent other road users from having clear visibility, therefore posing a great risk. Before you book an appointment at the custom shop, you need to be aware if the modifications you're planning for your vehicle are illegal. Our list will help you avoid modifications that will prompt the police to pull you over and, in some cases, seize your vehicle. More specifically, our list will help you to know twenty car modifications that are illegal.
18 Automatic License Plate Covers
The first time I saw one of these was in a James Bond movie. Bond used it to mask the identity of his Aston Martin while chasing the bad guys through town.
Avoiding speeding fines is the reason that most of us would get license plate covers.
The police would issue a ticket if you covered only part of the numbers. The entire license plate must be visible. Drivers who are prepared to take a chance with fitting their vehicles with a license plate cover will land up in hot water with the police. The best solution is to abide by the speed limit.
17 Laser Jammers
In most instances, the police will use laser guns instead of radar devices to monitor the speeds of vehicles on the highway. Some states have reported issuing half of its tickets by using laser readers. To thwart the police from giving you a ticket, you can opt for installing a laser jammer in your vehicle. You can purchase the laser jammer at an average cost of $600. The jammers distort the signal sent from the police's device. California, Minnesota, and Texas have passed laws against the use of laser jammers in vehicles. If the police catch you, they'll give you an additional fine on top of the one for speeding.
16 Off-Road Lights
When you buy a vehicle such as the Ford F-150 Raptor, you intend to go off-road. Driving off-road usually requires additional lighting. Fitting your vehicle with light bars isn't illegal as long as you use the lights when you're off-road. However, you can drive your vehicle on the highway only if you cover the light bar. If you use the light bar on highways, it can reflect off oncoming headlights and put other drivers in danger. You may accidentally use the light bars if you don't cover it; that's why it's critical to have a cover over the light bar.
15 High Riders
Hollywood has released numerous movies that feature 'Bro Trucks.' Those are pickups that the typical jock at university drives to show his colleagues. Being elevated in your vehicle higher than the rest of the drivers on the road may make you feel masculine, but it's also illegal. Before elevating your truck, you should check your state's lift laws.
Elevating a midsize sedan or a muscle car above 22 inches in Florida and Ohio will result in a ticket if the police see your vehicle.
Trucks are allowed a maximum of 26 inches above the ground.
14 Window Tinting
The law of window tinting varies in different states. Sometimes, the degree of the tint also plays a role. The law in Illinois prohibits front or side window tinting unless the driver has a medical condition, which he can prove. Some states allow for the tinting of the upper edge of a windshield or tinting that transmits at least the minimum percentage of light. You're not allowed to tint the front windshield entirely, and in some states, you cannot tint the rear window. The police carry devices that measure the amount of light that passes through the windows.
13 Radar Devices
If you own a passenger vehicle, you can fit it with a radar device unless you're in Virginia or Washington D.C. Drivers who are operating a commercial vehicle aren't allowed to install a radar device. If you drive a truck, you can be certain that the police will give you a fine if they discover a radar device in your vehicle. The placement of the radar device is also crucial. If you mount it above the dashboard, the police can give you a ticket for obstructing the driver's view. Each state has specifications regarding radar-device laws.
12 Excessive Sound System
One of the best aspects of owning a vehicle when we were teenagers was to fit it with as many speakers as possible. The windows rattled when we pumped the bass, and the female passengers blocked their ears. Although you may think it's cool to do that these days, you may be in violation of a law in certain states. Many states and local municipalities have passed a law to limit excessive noise. If your system emits a higher level of decibels than the state law, the police can give you a ticket. The Florida Supreme Court passed down a car stereo law in 2012.
11 Neon Lights
Decorating your vehicle with lights may get you the attention of onlookers, but the police will also have a look at your vehicle.
Modifying your vehicle to look like Vin Diesel's car in the Fast and Furious could get you a ticket from the police since they don't like the look of your vehicle.
You need to check the local law regarding the undercarriage light, as you may be prohibited from fitting lights under cars since the police don't want citizens to confuse your vehicle with theirs. Most states have banned blue and red lights under vehicles.
10 Low Riders
Lowering the suspension of your vehicle may make you feel as if you're going faster or boosting the aesthetics of your car. As there are laws for lifting your vehicle, there are also laws that relate to lowering it.
The state law in Georgia prohibits drivers from lowering their bumper or suspension more than two inches below factory specifications.
The state of Maryland also has restrictions regarding the lowering of your vehicle. However, the states of California and Arizona haven't instituted a law.
If you're looking to give your car additional horsepower, exhausts may be a great prospect. Getting an additional exhaust or modifying the current one might be something you desire but can be illegal. If your modifications disable or alter emission levels from your vehicle, you're in violation of a state law. Also, your vehicle won't pass the inspection with the modifications. The police may be on your case if the modification has led to the engine exerting a louder noise than the norm. An excessively loud engine may result in you getting a ticket.
8 Removing Emissions
Drivers who were around in the '70s will know that you could've modified the emissions equipment back then by removing it from a smog-choked car and tuning the carb. After the modification, you would've experienced a boost of around 40 horsepower in the performance of the vehicle. These days, you're not allowed to remove the emissions equipment from your vehicle. We're fortunate these days that the modern fuel injections, combined with computers, make the car powerful, so we don't have to remove the emissions.
7 License Plate Frames
Besides license plate covers, the frames on license plates are also illegal. While it may be fun and cheap to visit a junkyard to find an intriguing license plate frame, it could prompt the police to pull out the ticket book and give you a ticket. A license plate frame that covers any of the numbers or letters, even partially, will be deemed by police as a violation of the law. The state name, letters, and numbers must be visible for you to avoid a ticket. The easiest way to solve that problem is not to get a license plate frame.
6 Nitrous Oxide
Even nitrous oxide manufacturers will admit that it's illegal for drivers to fit their cars with a bottle, especially if the vehicle is a street car used for racing. Most racing cars have a bottle of nitrous injection kit fitted, and it's not only track cars.
Besides the excessive speed that a nitrous oxide kit permits drivers, it's illegal because of the inherent danger when an accident occurs.
The nitrous oxide bottle contains high pressure and will be a dangerous object to possess in a vehicle when an accident occurs. The kit will make any fireman nervous.
5 Headlight/Tail Light Modification
If you bought a Lexus IS in 1998, you were a proud owner of a vehicle that was fitted with Altezza tail lights. Those were one of the first visible tuner mods on vehicles that were a fad at the time. Soon afterward, most vehicles in the parking lot of a high school had the same modification. The appeal of the lights was the clear and chrome housing. Then, drivers made adjustments to the headlights with the different levels of chrome, black paint, and fake carbon fiber. The poor quality of the lights resulted in leaking or fogging, and that could cause the police to stop you and go on the side of the road.
4 Rolling Coal
Those who want to burn a lot of fuel but not see any performance as a result should buy a Harley Davidson. Those who cannot afford a Harley Davidson but want the same result can opt for rolling coal. The concept of rolling coal requires vehicle owners to modify their diesel trucks to burn more fuel than necessary, all for the sake of emitting smoke out of the exhaust like a train. Rolling coal results in engine wear and loss of power. The drivers of these trucks pay money to waste fuel and drive slower. The regulators want to increase the fines for these vehicles to several thousand dollars.
3 Turning Your Car Into A Limousine
Modifying a vehicle that involves altering its structure is illegal. This goes for drivers who want to convert their sedan into a limousine by cutting their vehicle in half and stretching it from the middle. Doing this type of structural change to the vehicle can be dangerous, especially when a professional doesn't carry out the job. Once you convert it into a limousine, the inspectors need to test the vehicle. In most cases, they don't deem the vehicle to be roadworthy, making your creation an illegal machine on the road.
2 Studded Tires During Good Conditions
In icy weather and snow, fitting your vehicles with studded tires can help prevent accidents. In some states, due to severe conditions, it's compulsory for drivers to fit their vehicles with studded tires. While studded tires are used as a safety measure, some drivers feel that they can use it for cosmetic modification. Some states have laws against studded tires on vehicles during warm periods. Other states have banned the use of metal studs in favor of the rubber options. Make sure to check the law in your state to ensure you're not in violation.
1 Cold Air Intake
Adrenalin junkies do all sorts of modifications to their vehicles to ensure that their vehicles perform at optimal speeds. One of the strategies that these drivers use is an advanced engine modification called "cold air intake." In certain states, such as California, it's illegal to do that modification if you don't have the relevant certification. The modification affects the car's emission from the exhaust, which has a negative effect on the environment. To make the modification legal, you need to have a cold air intake that has a CARB EO exemption number.
Sources: Cheat Sheet; Zero to 60