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10.04.2015 Car mods – legal vs illegal


Want to modified your motor? See what you can and can't do - saving you time and money.

“I love cars. I recently saw the new Lotus Evora at the British International Motor Show. I made a down payment of £5,000 towards the car and it cost about £45,000. I also went for a personalised number plate and leather seats.” says GB sprinter Jeanette Kwakye.

To stay within the law, you need to know the legal limits to tuning, tinting and styling. It’s all here:
What’s legal?
Steering wheel – you can fit an F1-style race wheel. Legal and it’ll give you a faster, more direct steering feel.
Tuning – you can squeeze extra power from your engine with filters, turbo conversions and steel cat-back exhausts, but the motor must still pass MOT emission tests. And never drop extra power into a tin can that can’t handle it: dangerous and illegal.
Seats – you can fit super-snug, hip-hugging bucket race seats if you wanna feel those corners.
Suspension – you can lower your car’s ride height for a sporty, aggressive look. Again, get advice and don’t chop down your standard springs – this is dangerous.

What’s illegal?
Tinted windows You can see the problem here; too much tint and you won’t see where you’re going, its like driving at night with your sunglasses on. Legally, your windscreen must let in a minimum 75% light, and the front side windows 70%. New cars are made with tinted glass so there’s little room for extra shade.
Sounds Whatever sound system you fit, keep your subwoofers down after 11pm. If not, you’re nicked! (As well as deafened.)
Alloys Bigger, wider, slicker… but not if your rims are too fat and rub or catch the wheel arches. That’s dangerous and illegal. Get expert advice.
Styling Any paint job goes (more or less) except for rally-style numbers; not allowed.
Number plate Don’t change any font (the style of lettering), colours or spacing. Background patterns, logos and graphics are off-limits. All these things make the number plate hard to read and could get you a fine of £1000 and an MOT failure.
Lights Blue lights are illegal. Leave them to the emergency services. And be careful with neons; lights that dazzle other drivers will get you in trouble.
Exhaust A pipe with the bore of a drain pipe might impress your mates, but if it makes the car a lot louder you could be fined heavily for causing a nuisance.

Note! You must tell your insurer about any modifications. Don’t lie! Be prepared for a hike in your premium, and don’t be surprised if you’re refused cover altogether, for even the most minor of changes. Mainstream insurers don’t like modified cars, so you might have to find a specialist company.