While cars for some people are simply a way to get from point A to point B, for others they’re an essential part of life. They’re a way to express themselves, show off their style, and customize a prized possession.
When it comes to car modifications, it seems there are a million ways to trick out your ride. Custom racing stripes, fuzzy dice, spinning rims, you name it.
But there are some car mods that can get you in trouble. Steer clear of these 8 illegal car modifications if you want to avoid getting slapped with a huge fine.
1. Lift Kits/Suspension Limits
You’ve probably seen cars like this before, particularly in trucks owned by guys named Joe who wear solely white tank tops. Installing lift kits or suspension boosters definitely gives your car a certain “Mad Max” aesthetic; it raises the car higher than normal which beefs it up.
While certain lifts are legal, each state has certain lift laws that indicate how high you can legally lift your car’s suspension. Lifting a car too high with lift kits can make the car harder to handle, which can lead to dangerous driving and crashes.
If you really want to go crazy with a car’s suspension, you might be better off with an RC car seeing as most states don’t let you lift more than a few inches. Read more about your RC options to get your lift kit fix.
2. Low Suspension
On the flip side of suspension lift limits are low suspension limits. Some people want the low riding look of 80s mobster cars or of professional racecars for their cars.
This isn’t always aesthetic either. A lower suspension can reduce drag, boost your speed all while giving your car a more unique look.
However, this modification can also get you in trouble. The level which you can lower your suspension will depend on your state. Check your state’s laws before going for this mod.
3. Window Tints
Tinted windows are some of the most common car mods out there. However, tinting your windows too dark can have significant effects on your visibility, which poses a safety risk while driving.
Different states have different laws on how dark you can tint windows on a vehicle. For example, Connecticut law states that the side and rear windows must have at least 32% light transmittance. Mississippi, on the other hand, allows a lower light transmittance of 28%.
4. Certain Color Neon Lights
You might think that neon light car mods died in the 90s, but they’ve stuck around. Ever see the tricked out cars in The Fast and the Furious? Every car was guaranteed to have at least one neon light mod.
While neon lights themselves are not generally illegal, certain colors and types are (again, depending by the state). Most states ban the use of red and blue lights as modifications on civilian vehicles. This is understandable: they don’t want people to mistake your car for a police car.
Some states don’t allow any colors besides white or amber. Others don’t allow neon lights that flash or flicker. Do your research before adding neon lights to your ride.
5. Off-Roading Lights
Speaking of lights, off-roading light rigs can pose a problem for you. They aren’t illegal when used for off-roading (aka their actual purpose), but they can be illegal in other situations.
Many rigs are large and can be a distraction for other drivers. If they’re on when driving on the highway, they can reflect light differently, which is a safety hazard for you and other drivers. Many states require them to be covered, or taken down, when driving on “real” roads.
6. Exhaust Modifications
Exhausts are sold with mufflers in order to quiet the noise of the engine. There are also certain parts in place to prevent dangerous emissions from polluting the air.
Modifying either of these things can be illegal. As with most things on this list, it will depend on your state. Noise levels are regulated, so if you remove your muffler or modify it to give your vehicle a louder sound, this could result in a fine.
This is also true with modifications that affect your car’s emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has laws in place that are there to protect the environment, namely the Clean Air Act.
Any modifications to this part of the car could put you in violation of these laws.
7. Nitrous Oxide
We know we’ve already referenced The Fast and the Furious, but this film is surprisingly relevant for this article. Something that that franchise loves to show off is the use of nitrous oxide to give cars a boost during races car chase scenes.
Laws concerning Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) will depend on the state you’re in. But, generally, NOS is illegal for civilian car use. In Ohio, you have to sign a form stating you know that it’s illegal to use in your car at the time of purchase.
The use of nitrous oxide in your vehicle can also count as an exhaust modification, which we already went over is illegal in most states.
8. Radar and/or Laser Jammers
Radar and laser jammers use certain radio waves in order to make police radar and speed laser guns malfunction. Sounds great, right? You can avoid getting tickets, speed all you want, and rule the roads.
Well, not quite. Radar jammers are illegal in all states since they violate Federal Communication Commission (FCC) laws on radio signals. Laser jammers are also explicitly illegal in many states including Virginia, Texas, and Colorado.
Wrapping Up Illegal Car Modifications You Should Avoid
Customizing your car is a fun and personal thing. Want a pink car with a yellow racing stripe? Go for it. Want spinning rims to impress your buddies? Sounds cool.
But these 8 illegal car modifications are ones you should avoid. Even if they look cool or make your car look beefed up, it’s not worth the potential hundreds you could face in fines, or even time you could spend in jail.
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