07.10.2022: As a car aficionado, it’s important to ensure that you’re aware of the law surrounding car modifications. There are plenty of different things you can do to your car to make it stand out from the crowd and ways in which you can change things to suit your
As a car aficionado, it’s important to ensure that you’re aware of the law surrounding car modifications. There are plenty of different things you can do to your car to make it stand out from the crowd and ways in which you can change things to suit your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences.
However, there are certain changes that some people choose to make that are actually a violation of the law. We’ve put together this guide to help you better understand this and modify your car within the confines of the law.
Understand What Modification Means
There is a stark difference between repairs and modifications, and it’s important to differentiate between these two things. Repairing a vehicle generally entails either fixing a specific part or replacing it.
While, in theory, this could be seen as modifying the car in some sense, you’re not really changing anything about the shape or function of the vehicle. For all intents and purposes, the car will be relatively the same as it was before being repaired.
A true modification of a car, however, is where you will either visibly change the appearance of your car, such as adding a spoiler or simply applying a new coat of paint, or actually changing the performance of the vehicle, too.
Types Of Modifications
As you’ll know, there are countless things you can do to your car to improve the appearance or the performance of the vehicle, and that’s why it’s crucial for people to do their research before attempting any of these. The world of car modifications is a legal minefield, and most areas of modification have both legal and illegal components.
If you’re caught with any illegal modifications, there is a strong chance of you getting charged and receiving a fixed penalty notice or, in some severe cases, a court summons. Avoid this risk by complying with the law when it comes to modifying your car, and you’ll be able to enjoy your custom vehicle without any concerns. Here is a list of some common things that can be changed on your car, which modifications are allowed and what is banned under UK law.
There are some changes that you can make to your windows that can be an improvement to the aesthetic of your car. The most common of these window modifications is the window tint. This is where special tinted material is stuck over the windows via adhesive, darkening the glass to provide a sleek look to the car.
Some people also choose to tint their windows for added privacy while driving. However, there are some very specific laws regarding window tinting that you have to follow. The legality of a window tint is based on the percentage of light that is let through into the car, and it’s actually illegal to use a tint that doesn’t let in at least 75% of light through the windscreen and 70% through the front side windows.
What many people don’t know, however, is that there are actually no laws in the UK for tinting your rear windshield or rear passenger windows. However, it’s worth noting that your view is going to be restricted, and this could increase your risk of an accident, so be wary when tinting your windows.
One of the more common modifications to a car is the addition of a new, custom number plate. These aren’t exactly a proper modification to your car, but it’s worth mentioning due to their huge popularity. Buying a custom number plate is okay to do in the eyes of the law, as long as you follow the rules.
The format of modern number plates usually includes the date of when the vehicle was manufactured. These are the two numbers following the first two letters. You cannot make an older vehicle look like a newer one by giving it a number plate showing a more recent date. For example, your old car that was built in 2016 and had a 16 plate cannot be given a 21 plate.
However, there are dateless custom plates that are perfectly legitimate but don’t carry the dated format. This is the most common choice of customised number plate as people tend to find plates that seem to spell out their name, initials or something personal to them in a combination of numbers and letters.
Modifications to the body of your car are probably much more lenient compared to others. There are a few things that you can do to modify your car’s physical appearance, and that includes the addition of entire body kits to a stock car, or the addition of new bumpers, spoilers, or a grille, for example.
Most of these things are perfectly legal as long as they don’t negatively impact the performance of your car, and they are perfectly secured. When it comes to these modifications, it’s also important that they don’t obscure your view in any way. For example, you can fit a spoiler to the back of your car as long as you are still able to see cars behind you. Some also like to lower their car’s suspension so that the body sits lower to the ground.
This is generally okay to do as long as it doesn’t impact your ability to turn or control the car. It’s worth noting that this is also more likely to get you stopped by police as they will want to check that everything is safe.
This is where we start to get into riskier territory. Of course, we should note that there are some legal modifications you can make to your engine, but many more are to be avoided. You can make several modifications to a car’s engine that surpass the quality of the standard factory parts and, in theory, can even make the vehicle safer.
For example, you could add higher-quality brake pads to your car or even an entirely brand-new engine and drive train. Registered mechanics do these sorts of things daily, and you’ll often be able to have one tune up your vehicle for you to improve its performance. However, there are a number of things you should avoid, such as removing your catalytic converter or implementing a nitrous oxide modification. These are illegal so forget about them entirely.
When it comes to lighting, safety is paramount, as lights are a pivotal part of signalling and guiding other road users as to what your vehicle is doing. However, this doesn’t stop people from wanting to add lights to their cars to complement the rest of the aesthetic.
It is legal to have neon lights fitted to the underside of your car in the UK, but there are some very strict rules regarding this. First of all, the lights cannot be red, blue, or green as these are reserved for emergency service lights. Also, the neon tubes you have fitted to your car must be entirely hidden away so that only the glow from the bulb is visible under your car.
If the tubes themselves are visible, you can very quickly be stopped by the police and issued a fixed penalty. You also need to be able to turn the lights off via a standalone switch so that you can turn them off if instructed by the police.
The lights also cannot be flashing or too bright, which would distract other drivers. All in all, it’s probably smarter to avoid using modified lighting altogether just to be on the safe side.
photo Pexels Matheus Bertelli
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