It’s a great American pastime, sprucing up your car with “mods.” There are thousands of things you can do to change things up but be careful, not all car mods are legal. With the assistance of our tech consultant at Central Ave. Nissan of Yonkers, NY, we have assembled a list of 10 mods that you should be careful of, they might be illegal where you live. (To find out definitively, visit your local DMV website.)
There are laws banning or limiting window tinting in nearly every state. For example, Illinois law prohibits any front or side window tinting. Other states allow some tinting on the upper edge of the windshield. Because they have had so many car-enthusiasts tinting their windows, many states have outfitted police officers carry devices to measure how much light passes through the windows.
There are plenty of kits that will allow you to lift your car high in the air but careful before you buy any of the extreme lift kits. Elevating a car or SUV above 22 inches will get you a ticket in states like Ohio and Florida. Note that some states measure the legal amount of lift by what you add to the factory height. For example, in Indiana, the law says you cannot raise a vehicle more than three inches over the factory height.
License plate covers
In all the states, police will frown if a custom plate frame covers any significant part of a license plate. And if you install one of those devices that automatically covers your license plate when you flip a switch, well, the police really don’t like those. Probably best to not even think about installing one of those unless you enjoy talking to unsympathetic judges in traffic court.
Many states have passed laws to limit how loud you can play music in your car. In some states, police can give you a ticket based on the volume of your music system. Be smart, don’t blast your sound system where it is going to annoy people, especially late at night.
As with vehicle lifts, many states regulate how much you can lower a vehicle. For example, Georgia law prohibits lowering a bumper or suspension more than two inches below factory specifications. Interestingly, neither California nor Arizona has limitations on how much you can lower your car, a fact that has allowed the robust existence of low-rider culture in those states.
Surprisingly, radar detectors are legal for passenger vehicles in every state except D.C and Virginia. However, in most states they are illegal for truck drivers to use. Just a word of advice, most police officers don’t “care much” for radar detectors. If you mount one above the dashboard in a state, even where they are legal, police may give you a ticket for obstructing the view of the driver.
LED undercarriage lights
These things were popular a few decades ago but some people still think colored lights look cool under a car. Although they are LED lights today (not neon tubes) they still may not be legal in many states. This especially applies to red and blue lights which could be confused with the emergency lights that police cars and fire trucks use. Check your local DMV to find out.
Aftermarket exhaust kits and performance mufflers can give your car an extra horsepower boost. However, they usually make your car far louder. In general, police are very sensitive to loud exhausts. Don’t push the envelope too far or you may end up with a noise violation.