A lukewarm teal table lamp. A modular kitchen. A bunch of bonsai trees on the dinner table. Our affinity for modifications knows no bounds. More so, when it comes to modifying our cars. The world of car modifications is mesmerising, marvellous, and thriving. This is the world where the passion for revving up your ride eclipses everything else. But with endless possibilities come great responsibilities, and in this case, the responsibility of following the vehicle modification rules in India is paramount.
In today’s blog, we will delve deep into the enchanting yet murky world of illegal car modifications in India, including the RTO permissions required for car modification, old car modifications in India, illegal car accessories, and of course, the question that has plagued us all – what car modifications are legal in India?
Car modifications have been a contentious issue for quite some time now. While car enthusiasts across the country continue to push the limits of what’s possible and permissible, the authorities are not too pleased with the rampant flouting of the car modification law. The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 clearly states that no person shall alter any vehicle in such a way that it no longer complies with the provisions of the Act. However, despite the clear rules and regulations, illegal car modification has become a thriving industry in India, with many workshops and garages offering modifications that are not only illegal but also extremely dangerous.
But it’s not just the new cars that are being illegally modified. Many car enthusiasts in India are opting for old car modifications to give their vintage rides a new lease of life. However, without proper certification, these modified cars are not roadworthy and pose a serious risk to both the driver and other road users.
We understand that it’s tempting to give your ride a unique look, but it’s equally important to do so within the framework of the vehicle modification rules in India. So, before you head to the garage for that flashy modification, make sure that you read this blog to know which modifications are legal, which ones aren’t, and what modifications won’t put yourself or others at risk.
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Welcome to the fascinating world of illegal car modifications in India — a world where passion and rebellion collide in a heady mix of speed, power, and danger. While many car owners in India take pride in customising their rides, not all modifications are in accordance with the law.
So, what are illegal car modifications, and why are they illegal in India? Simply put, illegal car modifications are any changes made to a vehicle that does not comply with the rules and regulations set by the government. These modifications can range from the installation of fancy accessories to major overhauls of the engine and other critical components.
The government has set strict guidelines for vehicle modifications to ensure that they do not affect the performance and safety of the vehicle and that they comply with the emission norms. This is why any modification that alters the vehicle’s original design, structure, or performance may be considered illegal.
For example, an improperly installed nitrous oxide system can cause an explosion, while a modified suspension system can affect the car’s stability and cause accidents. In addition, illegal modifications can also void your car insurance, leaving you liable for any damages or injuries that may result from an accident.
So, before you decide to modify your ride, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with illegal car modifications in India. While some modifications may seem harmless, they can have serious consequences legally, environmentally, and physically. We’d recommend that you keep reading as we make deeper inquiries into the specific types of illegal car modifications and the rules and regulations governing them.
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Engine modification involves making changes to the engine’s air intake system, fuel system, and exhaust system, and is one of the most popular types of car modifications in India. These modifications can disproportionately increase the power output, torque, and overall performance of the engine, but they also have serious legal implications.
This means that modifications like turbocharging, supercharging, and nitrous oxide systems are illegal unless you obtain the necessary permissions from the RTO (Regional Transport Office). Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines, vehicle impoundment, and even imprisonment.
Another popular car modification is lighting, which includes headlights, taillights, fog lights, and underbody lighting. While these modifications can enhance the look and feel of your car and make you feel like a superstar from The Fast and the Furious franchise, they are subject to strict regulations in India.
In India, the law prohibits the use of blue and red flashing lights on any vehicle other than emergency vehicles. Similarly, the use of HID (high-intensity discharge) lights is also illegal.
Modifications to a car’s suspension can have a significant impact on the way it handles on the road. Lowering the car’s ground clearance lowers the centre of gravity of your vehicle and can improve its stability and handling. On the other hand, lifting the suspension can enhance the off-road capabilities of your car.
Any modifications that lower the car’s ground clearance beyond the specified limit is illegal in India. This is because such modifications cause the vehicle to scrape the road and make it unsafe to drive. Similarly, modifications that alter the car’s suspension geometry or design are also illegal.
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Exhaust systems are an essential component of any vehicle, and modifying them is one of the most common car modifications in India. Some popular exhaust modifications include installing generic and subpar mufflers, entirely replacing the exhaust system, or adding a new exhaust tip. However, these modifications are illegal in India as they increase noise levels beyond the permissible limits set by the government.
In India, the permissible noise limit in industrial areas is 75 decibels during the day and 70 decibels at night. For commercial areas, the daytime limit has been kept at 65 decibels and 55 decibels at night. Meanwhile, in residential areas, the permissible limit is 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night. Any modifications that increase the noise level of the vehicle beyond the aforementioned limits are not allowed.
Tinted windows are a car modification that can enhance privacy, and security and reduce heat gain. However, they are subject to strict regulations to ensure road safety. In India, any car modifications that make it difficult for people outside the vehicle to see inside are not allowed. This means that tints on the front windshield are not allowed, and the permissible limit for side and rear windows is 70%.
Racing modifications can significantly enhance the car’s speed and performance. This includes engine modifications, using lightweight materials, nitrous oxide systems, racing tires, roll cages and adding aerodynamic enhancements. However, these modifications are illegal in India, and driving a modified car on public roads is strictly prohibited.
Racing modifications are allowed only on private tracks or during authorised racing events with proper permissions from the concerned authorities.
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Theoretically, licence plate covers can protect your licence plate from dirt and damage. However, using such covers is considered an illegal car modification in India. Under the Motor Vehicles Act, of 1988, licence plates are required to be visible at all times, and licence plate covers can obscure them, making them difficult to read. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your licence plate is always visible and not covered by any accessories or modifications.
Making your car horns louder is another common car modification in India. While a loud horn can alert other drivers on the road, it can also be uncomfortable for other people on the road. It can also be illegal if the sound levels exceed the permissible decibel limit set by the government.
Under the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, the noise range for horns has been fixed between 93 decibels (dB) and 112 dB. Anything beyond this limit is considered illegal and can lead to fines or vehicle impoundment.
The addition of side footsteps on SUVs is another modification that is considered illegal in India. While side footsteps make it easier to get in and out of an SUV, they also increase the risk of accidents and collisions. Therefore, the government has banned the addition of side footsteps on SUVs to ensure road safety.
It is important to consult with the rules and regulations put out by the government or the local Regional Transport Office (RTO) to ensure that any modifications you make to your vehicle are legal and comply with all regulations. That being said, here are some legal car modifications in India that would help make your vehicle your style statement:
Upgrading your car’s wheels and tyres can improve its aesthetic appearance, performance, and handling. As long as you keep your new wheels and tyres compatible with your car and comply with RTO regulations, they are considered legal.
Fog lamps and auxiliary lights help improve visibility during adverse and inclement weather conditions. However, it is important to ensure that the installation of these lights is done under the rules and regulations put out by the RTO.
GPS navigation systems can be installed in your car and are extremely helpful when it comes to providing directions and making your driving experience easier. Ensure that the GPS is done by a professional and that it is not obstructing the driver’s view.
Upgrading your car’s audio system is a great way to provide a better music experience. However, it is important to ensure that the new system complies with RTO regulations, follows the permissible sound limit, and is not causing any noise pollution.
Parking sensors and rear-view cameras make parking easier and help drivers avoid collisions.
Replacing the seat covers and floor mats can significantly enhance the comfort and appearance of your car’s interior. It is recommended to ensure that the new covers and mats do not obstruct any safety features and that they pair well with the overall look and feel of your cabin.
Adding an air freshener or other utility accessories can help keep your car smelling fresh and clean and enhance the quality of your ride. It is important to ensure that these accessories do not obstruct your visibility.
Seat belts are a necessary safety feature and a legal requirement. Ensure that the seat belts are of good quality and that the installation is done by a professional to avoid future complications.
A roof carrier provides additional space for luggage and other items in vehicles that lack sufficient boot space. It is recommended to check the RTO guidelines on the permissible dimensions of the roof carrier.
A high-quality security system helps provide additional protection to your car and belongings. When investing in a security system, make sure that you’re getting value for your money.
In most cases, illegal car modifications are not only dangerous but can also lead to legal consequences in India. However, this doesn’t mean that car enthusiasts cannot express themselves through their vehicles. Several legal modifications can enhance the look, feel, and performance of your car. From kempt and pearly alloy wheels to rugged and riveting body kits, car modification can be a great way to personalise your vehicle and make it stand out from the crowd.
Illegal car modifications can also impact your car insurance policy. Insurers often have specific guidelines on what modifications are allowed and what modifications are not. Illegal modifications can lead to the rejection of insurance claims or cancellation of the policy altogether. It is recommended to check with your insurance provider and get a better understanding of any modifications that would nullify the warranty of your car.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the line between legal and illegal car modifications is a thin one. And you need the agility, awareness, and precision of a tightrope walker to make sure that you’re always on the right side of the law. In the end, it all comes down to being a responsible citizen while modifying your car. Don’t let the temporary allure of obnoxious and unlawful car modifications lead you down a path of legal and financial troubles. Choose from the range of legal modifications and enjoy the thrill of customising your car without having to worry about your safety and other consequences.
Q. Can we modify cars in India legally?
A. Yes, we can modify cars in India legally, but the modifications have to comply with the legal car modification rules as per the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.
Q. Why is vehicle modification illegal in India?
A. Vehicle modification is illegal in India because unauthorised or illegal modifications can pose a threat to road safety. Any changes made to the car that may compromise the original design, structure or performance can lead to accidents or fatalities.
Q. What car modifications are illegal?
A. Some of the car modifications that are illegal in India include heavily tinted windows, using loud exhaust systems, modifying engine displacement or power output, making changes to the suspension, installing high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, etc.
Q. How much does it cost to modify a car in India?
A. The cost of modifying a car in India can vary depending on the type of modification, the brand, and the model of the car. It is recommended to check with your trusted car workshop for their price list. For example, a basic engine tuning modification can cost between ₹15,000 to ₹50,000. However, if you want to modify the entire car’s body, it can cost you anywhere between ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakhs or even more.
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