Vehicle modification refers to any cosmetic changes or alterations to the factory stipulations that improve the car’s performance or enhance the way it looks. However, before you are thinking of getting your car modded make sure to have all the information. This is because not all vehicle modifications are legal. So, here we explore a few car modifications that are off-limits.
Fancy Number Plates
In India, you have to comply with the rules set by the government regarding the number plate of the car. This means when it comes to the plates there is no scope for customising.
A number plate that sports any artwork or unconventional font is definitely illegal. Also, the plate dimensions should not exceed the prescribed size. You are required to display the number of plates in both the front and the rear of the car. Only the cars with HSRP (High-Security Registration Plate) are legal pan India.
The government has banned air horns keeping the safety of the environment and as well as people in mind. If you think intermittent honking on busy streets can make you unfocused while driving, noisy horns can cause even greater problems. Loud noises can contribute to hearing loss, and are certainly harmful to animals and birds. Horns that produce sounds above 100 decibels are prohibited. This is one aftermarket accessory you should stay clear of.
Loud Aftermarket Exhausts
Many aftermarket exhausts are pretty loud, louder than the said 100 decibels. The police keep an eye out for those miscreants with that sort of exhaust. So don’t go for exhausts that make a huge racket and annoy the motorists and pedestrians around you. Yes, you’ll be turning heads and stopping people on their tracks with that exhaust. But when we say people we mean the cops.
Besides several of these aftermarket exhausts that you fit on your vehicles, come sans a catalytic converter. This means they don’t really comply with the BS6 norms. This is because the catalytic converter plays an important role in turning the toxic exhaust gases into water vapour and less toxic carbon dioxide.
Dark Sun Film (Window Tinting)
The legality of tinting depends on the percentage of light that can pass through tinted windows. Window tinting is not always illegal, as long as the tint can filter in enough light. The windscreen at the front and the back should be at least 70% transparent to be road legal. If the tint film you get for your car doesn’t allow 70% VLT it is pretty much against the law. Nevertheless, you can use a relatively darker tint on the side windows. It only has to let at least 50% sunlight through.
However, very dark sun films applied to windshields can affect visibility and increases the chance of accidents. Besides, it would be difficult for the police to see who is inside the vehicle. This would make it difficult for them to do their jobs and effectively catch bad guys. So, this is another reason why very dark window tint is banned in the country.
Modified headlights and taillights are against the law. You cannot really swap your headlamps for the ones with the colour of your choice. And if the headlights are too bright it can blind the vehicles coming from the opposite direction.
Additionally, you cannot equip your PV with any flashing lights or red beacon lights (the latter goes for any vehicle now). That said, you can use neon lights or under glow lights, as long as you don’t turn it on. You should also keep them concealed. This also includes adding additional bright auxiliary lights.
Chopping The Roof
Legally you cannot cut the roof off of your vehicle. You cannot turn your regular car into say a convertible. Plus, you can cut out a DIY sunroof on the top either. The roof of the vehicle forms an integral part of the chassis. Cutting out the roof would mean the structural integrity of the car becomes compromised. All this would increase the safety risk you and the other occupants face.
The legal side of engine modifications is a bit confusing. While some alterations and ‘tuning’ of the engine is statutory others are not. The bill passed by the SC in 2019 clearly prohibits any modifications that do not comply with the manufacturer’s stipulations. This includes upgrading your car engine to a better one.
Barring that, some alterations to the engine can be made with RTO approval. Any differences in the car’s engine number from what is mentioned in the RC book can get you into trouble. So, it is important to keep in mind that the engine number can’t be altered without the RTO signing off on it and that the RC book should reflect any changes.
Bull Bars/Crash Guards
The Bull Bars are metal rod-like structures placed on the bumper of the vehicle. They reduce the damage to the front end of the car by absorbing shock. However, they can also transfer the energy of the impact right to the body of the vehicle. This makes Bull Bars a dangerous accessory.
They can hinder the sensors, like the parking sensors and even the airbag sensor. The airbag sensor is present at the front of the vehicle. When one is in an accident, the airbag circuit becomes complete and the airbags deploy. But if you have Bull Bars installed in your car, this can mess with the sensors and the airbags might not set off in time.
Extra Wide Tyres
An Isuzu D-Max V-Cross owner from Kerala was given a huge penalty of almost half lakh for illegal vehicle modification. The MVD asked the man from Muvattupuzha to bring the vehicle back to the original state if he wants the suspension to be revoked. This modded Isuzu more or less checks the list of all the illegal vehicle modifications that are in existence. This modified pickup flaunts enormous ground clearance, big Cooper tyres and huge wheels just to name a few.
So unless you fancy getting a huge fine and a suspended vehicle in your hands, turning your car into a behemoth as this guy did is not at all advisable. Therefore don’t go around truck tyres shopping for your car. Sure, it’s going to look better, but it definitely is not worth it. However, you can upgrade your stock tyres to the ones that comply with the carmaker’s specification.
This goes for wheels too. You can get alloy rims, as long as the lip of the wheels does not stick out of the side of the tyres.
Body Lifting Kits
Body lift kits elevate the body of the vehicle and are meant to increase the ground clearance of the automobile. Here, even though we change the ride height, we don’t make any alterations to the suspension. But a lift kit can be problematic and hence illegal in India.
Most of the modifications deemed illegal are often unsafe one way or the other. This is because changing the structure or integral elements of the vehicle can pose huge safety risks. Installing Bull Bars can sometimes protect the car but not the pedestrians. Changing the vehicle colour without notifying the authorities means, the car you drive could as well be a stolen vehicle.
These vehicle modification laws exist for a reason. There is a lot of thought and careful consideration behind these rules. In 2019 the Motor Vehicles Act was amended with a good heart, to make the roads a safer place for us all.
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