Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in North Carolina

The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in North Carolina ARENA Creative / Shutterstock.com

North Carolina has a variety of laws in place that govern modified vehicles. If you live in the state or are planning on moving to it, you need to make sure your modified car or truck follows these regulations so that your vehicle is considered street legal when driving throughout the state.

Sounds and noise

North Carolina has regulations in place concerning sound systems and mufflers on vehicles.

Sound systems

Drivers are not permitted to disturb the peace with unusually loud or riotous sound. If others are disturbed by the loudness of your car’s radio, they can file a complaint. It is up to the officer’s and court’s discretion as to whether your sound system is too loud.

Mufflers

  • Mufflers are required on all vehicles and must dampen the engine noise in a reasonable manner. There are no stipulations as to how “reasonable manner” is defined by the law.

  • Muffler cutouts are not permitted

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

Frame and suspension

North Carolina has no regulations on vehicle lift, frame, and bumper heights. Vehicles must not be more than 13 feet 6 inches in height.

Engine

North Carolina requires emissions testing on vehicles manufactured in 1996 and after. Safety inspections are also required each year.

Lighting and windows

Lights

  • Red and blue lights, flashing or stationary, are only permitted on emergency vehicles or responders.

  • Two additional lights, such as spotlights or auxiliary lamps are permitted.

Window tinting

  • Non-reflective tint is permitted on the windshield above the AS-1 line provided by the manufacturer.

  • Front side, back side, and rear windows must allow over 35% of light through.

  • Side mirrors are required if back window is tinted.

  • Reflective tint on front side and back side windows cannot reflect more than 20%.

  • Red tint is not permitted.

Antique/classic car modifications

North Carolina requires custom-built, replica, and antique vehicles to be registered.

  • Custom-built and antique vehicles must have an inspection to certify they meet DOT safety standards and are equipped for road use.

  • Antique vehicles are those are a minimum of 35 years old.

  • Custom-built vehicles are those that have been completely assembled from used or new parts (year is listed as the year in which it was assembled).

  • Replica vehicles are those that are constructed from a kit.

If you want to make sure your vehicle modifications are legal in North Carolina, 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
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...


Related questions

Q: Went with bigger tires & installed a high flow filter/muffler

Anytime you make changes to the tire's overall diameter, multiple components are going to be thrown out of calibration including, ABS, speedometer and traction control. There was a time when a professional mechanic could reset ECU's, but recent changes in...

Q: I want to put an exhaust system on my car but it is not street legal, what can I do?

When it comes to this type of exhaust system, there is no workaround that will make it legal. If these exhaust components do not have the air quality resource tag on them, then they cannot legally be used on the...

Q: I have a MB WDB2011281F343389-0 and I know it: It would be advantageous to place an intercooler and how to get a design for this?

Admittedly, the 190D is not a big performer, so it's understandable that you would want to do something to improve the power, but I don't think there is much out there for that car. If you are determined, however, there...