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HomeFeatured ArticlesGoMechanic InformativeCar Modifications In India | Legal Vs Illegal

Car Modifications In India | Legal Vs Illegal

Bought your first car of your own? Well, kudos to you for that! Buying your first car is always a special feeling, doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new one or a second-hand car. It always remains ‘the special one’ for you.

Now, your car has to match your taste and preferences, isn’t it? So, why not get it a bit modified and have it look a little better and different than the rest of the lot! Well, hold up before you take it straight away to modify into something that you always wanted. Here are some things that you must know before you get your car modified in India.

Are modified cars illegal in India?

The Supreme Court of India on January 2019 ruled that no motor vehicle in the country can be modified or altered in such a way which makes the data about the car differ from the modified version of the car. In layman’s language, you cannot play with the ‘structural features’ of the car in any manner. Any changes to the car’s chassis or engine have also been termed illegal. So, going above and beyond with your imagination and portraying it on your car can now land you into some serious trouble.

Which car modifications are illegal in India?

Any modification that deviates from the manufacturer’s specifications is not legal.

  1. Width of the tyres: This is a no-brainer, bigger tyres do look good on your vehicle but increasing the width of the tyre to an extent where it protrudes the body of the car, is illegal.
  2. Loudness of the horn: Changing the sound and loudness of the horn is a trend nowadays but the government has declared, that to reduce the noise pollution caused by car horns, the horns cannot be louder than 100 decibels.
  3. Width of alloys: Different alloys can give different looks to your tyres but modifying your alloys, where the lip of the alloy protrudes the tyre edge has been banned by the government.
  4. Width and the length of the vehicle: Well everyone wants a limo or an SUV but not everyone can afford it. So, people go on and hinder with the length of their cars to make it look like a Limo or an SUV. Well, that’s not allowed by the government too.
  5. Modification of engine to a higher capacity one: Inter-changing your engine with a better one does give you better horsepower and efficiency but changing the engine to other than the manufacturer’s specifications is banned too.
  6. Tinting the windows: As per The Supreme Court Of India ruling, car window tinting is prohibited in India. The use of window tint of any VLT (Visual Light Transmission) rating on the windscreen (front and rear), side windows is illegal. Tinted windows straight from the car manufacturer is allowed with certain conditions applied.

Also Read: Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2019

What are some legal car modifications in India?

Well, all the popular car modifications in India and the addition of basic car accessories or something related to the safety of your car is still permissible. Let’s have a look at what is permissible and can be still modified –

  1. Engine modification: Yes, the engines can be changed but it requires prior permission from the RTO (Regional Transport Office). Failing to follow the protocols set by the RTO can lead to cancellation of a vehicle’s registration.
  2. Tyre modification: One can opt to change the tyres of a car within a permissible range as the car manufacturers usually offer different specs of tyres ranging from the base variant to the top model variant. For example – If you have a mid-range model you can go and opt for tyres available in the higher model of the same car.
  3. Minor modifications: Minor fitments like door protectors, decal, rain guards etc can be added to the car without any illegalities.
  4. Colour modification– You can change the colour of the vehicle. Although the only condition being that the colour has to be the one which is RTO approved.
  5. Engine fuel change: You can get a CNG kit fitment in your car if it’s a petrol or diesel one.
  6. Suspension modification: Suspension of the car can be modified to a high performance one for a quality ride. A difference of a few inches from the stock suspension is not illegal at all.
  7. Headlights and tail-lights modification: LED inserts and auxiliary lamps are safe to be installed and are also not rendered illegal by the government.

Is it legal to vinyl wrap a car in India?

The law about Vinyl wrapping in our country is quite ambiguous. The law or the hearing by the Supreme Court bench headed by Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran said nothing about vinyl wrap on a car. It is always suggested that before doing any sort of modification to the colour of your car, always consult with your region’s RTO just to be sure.

Moreover, the fact remains that a vinyl wrap if does not change the colour or texture of the vehicle as it is mentioned in the registration certificate issued by the company then there’s no point in terming it as something illegal.

Got one of those European Union car number plates? Read this: Types Of Number Plates In India

Conclusion

The Supreme Court and the Government of India came up with these rules and regulations after thorough research and suggestions.
Modification of a vehicle is precisely a hard work and involves some skills but only when done properly and safely.

The ruling by the Supreme Court is surely a welcome change against the roadside modders who modify cars and bikes for a little amount hence posing a safety threat as well as an environmental one to some extent.
This move will surely benefit the companies and organisations which follow the specified protocol in modifying a car and hence keeping the soul of the car alive.

Dhiren Chhikara
Dhiren Chhikarahttps://gomechanic.in/blog
Content Strategist at GoMechanic | Delhiite | Love Football | OnePlus Fanatic | Know a thing or two about cars.

139 COMMENTS

  1. Is it illegal to modify a pajero to an offroader like snorket, offroad tyres, carriers. And is it possible to drive in road(not far just below 30kms)

    • Hi Saran,
      As far as these modifications are concerned, they are legal. You cannot modify the chassis or the body though. These additions are street legal too.
      Stay tuned!

    • Hi Amresh,
      It is not recommended to get a sunroof fitted in any car if the carmaker does not provide one. It will require cutting of the roof which will lead to the loss of structural integrity of the vehicle. Stay tuned!

  2. Hi, I Would like to change the look of my Bolero. Modify the front look(Grill), colour and the size of wheels. Is it legal or illegal? And If permission is required, what is the process? Please anyone can answer this. Thanks in advance

    • Hi Harsha,

      You can modify your car as per your requirements but you need to take a note of a few things first. AS for the colour of the vehicle, it is not illegal to change it but you will have to get it endorsed on the Registration Certificate (RC) from your local authorities (RTO). As for the size of the wheel, the overall width of the vehicle should not be affected. And the modification to the body is allowed in the form of bolt-on parts where the basic structure or the chassis is not hampered with. So, yes you can change the look of the front grille though do note that the radiator should not blocked! Stay pinned!

  3. Hi GoMechanic,

    There are vlogs available in youtube showcasing a few modified mahindra jeeps with complete change from powerful engines to huge tyres. Are these kind of SUVs permissible in tamilnadu. Is it advisable to buy from those states and register them in tamilnadu. Pls advise, thanks.

  4. Hi Go Mechanic, i have a Maruti 800 car .I want to convert it into a two seater car by cutting length wise. I have seen one such modified car in You tube. Can I get permission from RTO Hyderabad?
    A.Udaya Sankar Mobile 9440488804 email udayasankar9@gmail.com
    .

    • Hi Udayasankar,

      Modification of any kind that requires modification of the chassis of the vehicle is not permitted in India. You need to consider the fact that if you plan to do such modification to your Maruti 800, it won’t be road legal. Stay tuned!

    • Hi Arihant,
      Yes! of course, you can build your own car from the ground up. It’s just it’ll be track restricted only. This is because it is a herculean task getting the car registered. In addition, you’ll have to read the rulebook by heart to comply with all the norms. Stay Pinned! 🙂

    • Hey Nuthan,
      You can install an aftermarket exhaust. However, there are decibel limits defined for the loudness of the exhaust. Moreover, we suggest you to opt for a reputed name brand exhaust manufacturer.

  5. Hi Go Mechanic,

    I wish to convert my soft top Gypsy to Hardtop one with a small truck space. Thinking about a miniature version of ISUZU Dmax, without modifying chasis or body. Only an additional FRP hardtop and a roll cage shall replace the existing roof and roof frame. Is it legal to do so…?

    Thanks in advance.

  6. Hi

    I am having a ISUZU D Max V Cross and want to change the stock front bumper with a metal bumper and also put a carrier. Is it legal to change it

  7. Hey i m using white led headlight as well as fog lamp in my swift 2012 modal and a police person caught and charges me a fine he do not give any reciept but he took it by saying otherwise he will fine me a 5000 challan. So is it leagal of using white led and fog lamp in swift

    • Hi Aarush,
      It is not illegal using an aftermarket LED lights, provided the LED light has to adhere to norms and should not exceed certain intensity (measured in Kelvins). But still, we would like you to check the rule book just to be sure. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  8. How do you know what is legal or illegal for vehicles? what if a traffic police want to make fake imposes, like i was stopped because my roof top was black taped, what to say in these kind of situation to traffic police

    • Hi Nittan,
      To fight or argue with the police for the right thing, one has to have a really good presence of mind. Also, a person should also be aware of all the rules and regulations here in India. To know more about what’s legal and what’s not, We’d suggest you visit the site of India’s transportation department (Ministry of Road Transport and Highway). Refer to the link below.

      https://morth.nic.in/ais

  9. Isuzu 4×4
    I have to change only back space with some two side handle bar’s,make two seats and cover with tarpaulin from sunlight with easy-to-use and remove.

    • Hi,
      As of now, getting your roof wrapped is not illegal. On the contrary, we have seen the cops giving a ticket for a different coloured or wrapped roof. So, we’d recommend to check it with the transport department in your area before getting it done for your vehicle. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  10. Hi , I’m going to modify my civic there are list of items written

    No 1 – body colour change
    No 2 – sunroof installation
    No 3 – all four wheel negative Camber
    No 4 – alloy wheels
    No 5 – mugen rr kit
    No 6 – spoiler

    So , these are the modifications I am going to do above these which are illegal

    • Hi,
      Sure, you can install LED bulbs in the existing headlight housing. But the catch is that the headlights will have a good throw but it will not be bright. So, we recommend you examine the throw first and then upgrade the bulbs. Stay Pinned!

  11. HELLO TEAM: I PLAN TO FIX / FABRICATE ROOF CARRIER ON MY BOLERO JEEP. IS ROOF CARRIER LEGAL / PERMITTED FOR CARRYING OF LUGGAGE FOR TRAVEL IN PRIVATE CAR/JEEP PLEASE

  12. Hi i wanted to convert a small car into a convertible. Just like a maruti 800 Or zen Or any small segment car to a convertible with canvas cover.

    • Hi Ashwin,
      As per our knowledge if the steering does not hamper the safety of the vehicle (airbag) it is legal. Moreover, changing things on the interior is also legal. Stay Pinned! 🙂

  13. Is it legal to modify Gypsy to a 4 door without compromising strength of the body by adding some reinforcement and adding front facing seats at rear?

  14. I have gypsy soft top varient can i change the stock soft top to other coloured soft tops. And is it legal to drive gypsy without soft top??

  15. Can we modify SUV into overlanding vehicle, such as chop the factory plastic bumper and install high clearance aluminum/steel bumper (airbag compatible), roof top tents, roof racks, awnings, or completing removing the bed from UTE and setting up a modular alu-cab? And can we hitch a trailer in India?

    • Hey Vishal,

      These modifications require you to make substantial changes to the vehicle body and chassis, which might become a cop magnet. Tread carefully here.

  16. Seen in Youtube that Ambassador Car is swapped with Maruti Ertiga Engine having same cc. Is it legal? Whether I can do such a conversion with Petrol Ertiga Engine 1.5 litre or petrol Honda Amaze Engine of 1.5 litre for my 1489 cc petrol Ambassador and whether that could be endorsed in RC book on the ground that no spares or new engine of the original manufacturer is available?

    • Hey Visweswara,

      We advise you to go through your nearest RTO and make changes to you vehicle as per their recommendation.

  17. i wanted to boost the performance on my vtec city 2003, is it ok to install parts like aftermarket air filter, exhaust and get an ecu upgrade?

    • Yes, in essence, you can. But it is easier said than done. Turbocharging any car requires a lot of planning and major tuning to the overall geometry of the vehicle.

  18. Hi Team,

    I want to customize the complete exterior look of the car like the front grill, bumper, fenders, door panels, and spoiler. Can I do it?

  19. Can I add splitters kit, fiber monster spoiler, custom headlight and projector with multiple colours in my alto 800

    • Yes, only if you dont modify the factory colour on your Alto. If you want to change the colour on the Alto, make sure you get the same changes on the RC. Moreover, while installing Projectors, please make sure they are within the permissible limit.

    • Hey Justin, wrapping the roof in any shade of colour other than the factory paint has been deemed illegal and will attract the eyes of the law. However, upsizing the tyre will not cause any problem whatsover.

  20. I want to change the tail light to a clear smoky black taillight. And also to smoke the head light. Is it illegal??

    • Smoking the headlight or the taillights falls in the grey area when it comes to modification. If the tint isn’t too dark and the lights are able to illuminate normally, you are good to go. However, tinting the lights deeming it unusable is not only unsafe but a definite cop magnet.

    • Hey Kaushik, an Engine Swap would require you to get approval from the RTO. Without this, the Engine Swap will be considered illegal.

  21. Hi, I have an ertiga private not commercial vehicle and I want to install roof carrier for lagguage and want to go for trip in multiple states. Pls confirm is it legal or not in pan India or is there any state where it is illegal.

  22. Hi
    I have a ford ecosport 2015 model. I want to upgrade its front look to the facelifted one. Is it legal? If yes, do I need any permission from the RTO?

  23. I want to modify my Volkswagen virtus into some thing like supra car … from front and back
    And I also want to insert that uplift and down left feature of a car to road area thing 🙃 is this under law or its illegal?
    Or can be done with some ways or methods plzz reply with the right information.. 🤍thnku

  24. Hi, I have bolero and I changed the rims(off roading) of my bolero and tyres size same 15inches but front tyre’s goes 2inches out of the body, is it Illegal? Or any permissions for this from RTO

    • As long as the body kit is not drastically modifying the look of the vehicle, it is permitted. Body kits fall under a certain grey are when it comes to customisation.

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