In the country vehicle modification is a sticky subject. You can install cool upgrades or make modifications to your vehicle as long as you comply with the rules and laws of the land.
Breaking the law can have serious consequences. We are sure that you don’t want the police seizing your vehicle, right?. So you should know some of the car modification rules that exist in our country.
Car Modification Laws
As a rule of the thumb, many modifications that upgrade the safety of the car is legal. For example, affixing LED DRL to your stock headlamp is not illegal. Daylight Running Lamps stay on during the day and night; as long as your engine is running. DRL not only makes your car look cool, but it makes driving safer. In India, these kinds of vehicle modifications are greeted with a big yes. However, those modifications that change the exterior dimensions of the vehicle are unfortunately illegal.
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It is legal to get your car painted in a completely different colour. But you will need to get the new colour approved by the RTO.
On the other hand, you can legitimately install vinyl body wraps on your vehicle even without any sort of permission from the authorities. Body-Wraps last long and can preserve your car’s factory paint.
If you are fitting new tyres, you should make sure that the tyres are not sticking out from the car body. You cannot fit very big tyres on your vehicles either. You can, but it won’t be legal.
But if you own a base model of the vehicle you can upgrade the tyres with the ones that come in higher trim level. The section width of a WagonR VXi tyre (the first three number on the tyre size code) is 165mm while the base model WagonR LXi has 155 section tyres. So, you can swap your LXi tyres for your VXi ones. Doing modifications like this won’t get you in any trouble
You should not install steering spinners, IRVM screens or Bull Bars aftermarket. However, there are a lot of accessories like door protectors, body-kits and rain guards that you can install. On the other hand, you cannot make variations like changing the number of seats your car has.
This is one of the customizations that a lot of motorists go for. However, oversized alloy wheels are banned and you will have to face the repercussions if caught. It is okay to get new alloy wheels for your vehicle. But the lip of the wheel should not jut out of the sides of the tyres.
Let’s say, you have a WagonR LXi. You can switch your wheels for new ones with a rim diameter of 14 inches. You can do this because WagonR VXi which is the top variant has wheels with a 14-inch rim. This means you are not really going beyond what the manufacturer has specified.
The car engine can be modified. But you need to get a permit from the Road Transport Office (RTO) first. Some changes to the engine are legal while others are not. You cannot swap out your engine with a more powerful one. Your engine capacity should not exceed what the car manufacturer specifies.
The horns you install in your vehicle cannot be louder than 80 decibels. If you are getting them aftermarket, make sure to comply with these norms.
The Pollution Control Board has banned air horns thanks to the noise pollution it stirs up. Along with this CPCB has also forbidden the use of multi-toned and musical horns.
No changing the structure of the vehicle
Since modifying the vehicle’s structure can make it weaker, you are not allowed to change the structure of your car.
If you are making any structural changes you’ll have to follow a list of procedures. Besides, the Automotive Research Authority of India (ARAI) has to approve the new altered components of your car. So increasing the length of your car is more or less out of the question. Unless you have a certificate from the ARAI, a car body longer or shorter than what is stipulated by the manufacturer can get you into a lot of trouble.
The car roof stays
In India, if you want to own a convertible you need to have at least 40 lakh rupees to spend. What if you don’t want to spend 67 lakhs on a Mercedes C-Cabriolet or a BMW Z4? Can’t you just saw off the roof of your hardtop car? Unfortunately, the simple answer would be no. Structural modifications like this can compromise the integrity of your vehicle and can diminish its strength.
So you cannot turn your car into a monster truck, limo or convertible. But if you are still desperate to have a wind-in-the-hair experience while driving, you can invest in a Mahindra Thar. The SUV comes in a soft-top variant at 13.75 lakhs ex-showroom.
If you feel like improving your car’s ride quality you can go for a custom suspension. Getting a new upgraded suspension is okay. But this should not mess with the ground clearance of the vehicle. Even though you can increase the ride height by a few inches, anything above that is considered unlawful.
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In places like Kerala, motorbikes with loud exhausts are a pretty common sight. The state police force keeps itself busy by charging hefty fines on these bikers. Even for cars, aftermarket exhausts that are louder than what is considered legal can be a cop-magnet. If your aftermarket exhaust doesn’t come with the seal of approval of the RTO, for all means and purposes you are breaking the law.
Removing the exhaust muffler is illegal as well. It can also depress the performance of your vehicle’s exhaust system and can reduce fuel efficiency. If you are a Royal Enfield owner, we say think twice before you take off that silencer.
The laws regarding vehicle modification are somewhat ambiguous. So if you are planning to customize your vehicle make sure everything you do is statutory.
Read more about vehicle modification at Here Is A List Of Legal Car Modifications In India and Here Is A List Of Illegal Car Modifications In India