The Guide to Legal Car Modifications for All States

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Vehicle modifications can take many forms, from simple modifications such as light window tinting to under-vehicle LED lighting to the more complex frame and suspension modifications. Laws and regulations for vehicle modifications have been set in place for many reasons, including being an effort to reduce harmful vehicle emissions and ensure drivers stay safe through the reduction of possible vehicle-related distractions.

Some of the items that can be considered a vehicle modification by different states include:

  • Mufflers, including whether use is required, decibel limits, and baffle requirements
  • Sound systems, including decibel limits related to time and location
  • Frame and suspension modifications (“lifting” or “low-riding”)
  • Lighting, such as the required amount of working vehicle lights, locations, such as under-vehicle LED lighting, and overall limits to brightness and possible color
  • Windows, including tinting limits and allowed tint types (e.g., reflective tint)

Violating the laws related to vehicle modifications can result in fines and penalties, so when driving around your hometown, or planning a trip out of state, be sure to check that any modifications to your vehicle comply with state laws and regulations.

In addition, many states have laws and regulations regarding what is considered an “antique vehicle.” Since this can impact items such as seat belt requirements, emissions, and more, be sure to check that your older vehicle falls within legal guidelines for an antique before heading out on that cross country roadtrip.

Also, vehicle modifications may impact the ability to get car insurance as well as the overall cost. YourMechanic has information on how to insure a car with modifications to help drivers stay informed and educated.


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