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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
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Related questions

Q: i cut off the roof

If you still have the windshield and install a roll bar then you should not have a problem, but if I were you I would check with local ordnance to make sure it is legal.

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Hi there. The engine will not start to break down or lose power at that point. The factory engine does not make that much power on its own so I have to assume you are talking about aftermarket power modifications....

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Sounds like a nice build. Assuming you used the 305 crank, the engine will still be called a 5.0 or 305, since that is the cubic inch displacement of the engine.