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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.
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 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 12 feet 6 inches in height.
North Carolina requires emissions testing on vehicles manufactured in 1996 and after. Safety inspections are also required each year.
Lighting and windows
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.
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 25% 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 25 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.
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