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The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in Rhode Island

If you want to modify your vehicle and you live in Rhode Island or you are moving to the state with a modified vehicle, you need to know the laws and regulations so that you can keep your car or truck street legal. The following information will help you drive your modified vehicle legally on the roadways throughout Rhode Island.

Sounds and noise

Rhode Island has regulations on the sound levels from both sound systems and mufflers.

Sound systems

When listening to your sound system, the sound cannot be heard inside of a vehicle that is closed from 20 feet away or by someone who is outside and 100 feet away. The first offense of violating this law is a $100 fine, the second is $200, and the third and any additional offenses is $300.

Mufflers

  • Mufflers are required on all vehicles and must prevent unusual or excessive noise.

  • Headers and side exhausts are permitted if the remainder of the exhaust system limits the noise emitted by the engine and they do not increase the sound beyond the maximum decibel levels described below.

  • Muffler cutouts and bypasses are not permitted on the highway.

  • Muffler systems cannot be altered or modified in a way that makes them louder than what the original manufacturer installed on the vehicle.

Failure to follow these stipulations will result in the same fines mentioned above.

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

Frame and suspension

Rhode Island suspension and frame laws include:

  • Vehicles cannot exceed 13 feet 6 inches in height.
  • Suspension lift cannot exceed four inches.
  • There are no frame, body lift or bumper height limits.

Engine

Rhode Island does require emissions testing, but does not have any regulations regarding engine swaps or modifications.

Lighting and windows

Lights

  • A white light is required for illuminating the license plate on the rear of the vehicle.

  • Two spot lamps are permitted providing they do not hit the road at a distance of 100 feet away from the vehicle.

  • Two fog lamps are permitted providing the light does not rise more than 18 inches above the roadway at a distance of 75 feet or more.

  • All lights with a candlepower higher than 300 must be aimed so that they do not hit the roadway more than 75 feet in front of the vehicle.

  • Red lights in the front center are not permitted on passenger vehicles.

  • Flashing or rotating lights are not permitted on the front of passenger vehicles other than turn signals.

Window tinting

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

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

Antique/classic car modifications

Rhode Island offers antique plates for vehicles that are 25 or more years old. These vehicles can be used for club activities, exhibitions, parades, and other types of public interest activities. However, it cannot be used for daily general driving. You will need to file an Application for Registration and Title Certification.

If you want to make sure your vehicle modifications are in line with the laws in Rhode Island, 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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