Modifying your car!
When you make any changes to your vehicle you need to make sure you have checked what impact this may have, some modifications can be illegal and they may also affect your insurance policy if you do not declare them, so remember you MUST inform your insurer of any modifications to your vehicle as non-disclosure may lead to the invalidation of you insurance policy so no payout if you have a bump. Do your homework, if you are planning to make any changes.
We are all aware of people who dedicate their spare time to customizing their cars and they may spend a fortune on it, however other people may be doing this the correct way.
Don't be led by others' actions make sure you are aware of what you are doing after all it's your licence and you who will pay if you are doing something illegal.
We have tried to compile some common modifications, some of which you may see on many cars, in order to highlight the risks involved if any. You can also refer to The Road Traffic Act 1988 or contact your local police to ask how the law views your intended modification.
- If you have an engine conversion to use Nitrous Oxide it is illegal to use this on a public road. Whilst it is ok to have the bottle in the car, it is NOT ok to have it ready for use. When such a vehicle goes for a MOT the garage checking the car should check that any other modifications are road legal and safe to be used on the public highway.
- Playing your music loud after 11pm can land you in trouble with the police as this can be classed as noise pollution - so keep those subwoofers down low.
- A TV/DVD screen in the front of the car that is within reach or sight of the driver whilst driving is not just a big distraction and very dangerous it is NOT allowed.
- If you decide to get bigger tyres make sure they do not stick out further than the edge of the wheel arch as again this can potentially land you in trouble.
- If you have an unreadable number plate this too can be illegal make sure you do not change the fonts, getting your plates from a reputable store will make sure you keep it legal. You will have to produce certain documents in order to have a plate made up.
- If you are thinking about any kind of additional lighting to your car eg, neon strip lights etc you may want to check that they will comply with Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 as your car should only have white to the front, white or amber to the sides, and red to the rear. You must make sure they do not cause any undue discomfort to any other road user and they should be independently switched and fitted. Advice would suggest that you check with a reliable source before embarking on this one.
- Tinted windows are not illegal as long as they meet the required specifications, you can ask the Police or Vosa about the laws before embarking on this modification, a lot of people find the ‘DrY' option more cost effective but you may fmd that you can get stopped by the Police or Vosa who can check the VLT (Visual Light Transmission) and if it iss found that the VLT is less than the legal requirement you can be stopped from using the vehicle until the tint is removed.
So key points to remember about any modification is to check firstly if they are legal, secondly what the costs may be - whether this is to your insurance as well as the cost of the parts. Thirdly have the modification carried out properly so you know that your car is still going to be road worthy - carrying out any modifications yourself if you are not properly qualified may cost more in the long run if it goes wrong.
Remember if in doubt you can ring the police and they will always give you the correct information you need.