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The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in New York

The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in New York ARENA Creative / Shutterstock.com

If you live in New York or are moving to the area, if you have a modified vehicle you need to know what is permissible on the roadways throughout the state. The following guidelines will help ensure that your vehicle is considered street legal in New York.

Sounds and noise

New York has regulations in place to control the amount of noise or sound that your vehicle is allowed to create or emit.

Sound systems

In New York, sound that is 15 or more decibels above the ambient sound in a given area when measured 15 or more feet from the source is not permitted.

Mufflers

  • Mufflers are required on all vehicles and cannot allow sound levels higher than 15 decibels more than the ambient sound in which the vehicle is being driven.

  • Muffler cutouts are not permitted.

Tip: Always check with local county laws in New York to make sure you are following any municipal noise ordinances that may be more stringent than state-level laws.

Frame and suspension

New York does not have regulations on suspension and frame lift heights. However, cars, and SUVs must have bumpers mounted between 16 and 20 inches, while trucks have a maximum bumper height of 30 inches. Additionally, vehicles are only permitted to be 13 feet 6 inches in height.

Engine

Vehicles in New York must undergo emissions testing and safety inspections each year. However, there are no additional regulations on engine swaps or modifications.

Lighting and windows

Lights

  • Red and blue flashing lights are only permitted on emergency vehicles.
  • No auxiliary or additional lamps beyond those installed at the factory are permitted.

Window tinting

  • Non-reflective tint is permitted on the top six inches of the windshield.

  • Front side, back, and side windows must allow over 70% of light through.

  • Rear window can have any tint darkness.

  • Side mirrors are required if back window is tinted.

  • Sticker signifying legal tint levels is required between the glass and film on window that is tinted.

Antique/classic car modifications

New York offers historical plates for vehicles that are over 25 years old and that are not used for daily driving or transportation. Vintage plates are also allowed for the year in which the vehicle was manufactured if it is not used for daily driving or transportation.

If you want to make sure your vehicle modifications comply with New York law, YourMechanic can provide the mobile mechanics to help you install the new parts. You can also ask our mechanics what modifications may be best suited to your car using our free online Q&A system, Ask a Mechanic.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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