The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in South Carolina

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Those who live in South Carolina and those who are planning to do so need to understand the laws throughout the state. If you have a modified car or truck, the following laws will help you understand whether your vehicle is considered street legal when driving on the roadways throughout the state of South Carolina.

Sounds and noise

South Carolina regulates the amount of sound that is permissible from your vehicle. Failure to comply with the following laws can result in fines up to $200 and/or 30 days in jail for the first offense and second offenses. A third offense could result in fines of up to $500 and/or up to 6 months in jail.

Sound systems

It is a violation of the law to listen to your car radio system at volumes that annoy others when in state parks. There are no other statewide regulations concerning other areas.

Mufflers

  • Mufflers are required on all vehicles and must prevent unusual or excessive noise.
  • Motor vehicles with exhaust bypasses or cutouts are not permitted on the highways.

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

Frame and suspension

South Carolina does not have bumper or frame height restrictions. However, the following are additional laws that must be followed:

  • Vehicles cannot exceed 13 feet 6 inches in height.

  • Passenger vehicles cannot be lowered or raised more than six inches – this does not apply to pickup trucks.

Engine

South Carolina does not require emissions testing and does not have regulations concerning engine swaps and modifications.

Lighting and windows

Lights

  • License plates on the rear of vehicles must be illuminated with white light.

  • Brake lights on the rear of the vehicle must be red, yellow or amber.

  • One spot lamp is permitted that does not hit the road surface over 100 feet in front of the vehicle.

  • Two fog lamps are permitted providing the light does not rise more than 4 inches above the center of the lamp at a distance of 25 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.

  • Blue lights are not permitted on passenger vehicles.

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

  • Two side cowl or fender courtesy lamps with white or amber light are permitted.

  • Lights with intensity of 300 candlepower or more must be positioned so that the brightest portion does not hit the roadway over 75 feet from the vehicle.

Window tinting

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

  • All tint must be non-reflective.

  • Side mirrors are required if the rear window is tinted.

  • Red tint is not permitted.

  • Sticker identifying tint levels as legal must be on each window between the glass and film.

Antique/classic car modifications

South Carolina offers two different options for classic or antique vehicles:

  • Year of Manufacture Plates - These are for vehicles more than 30 years old and require an Application for Year of Manufacture License Plate.

  • Antique Plates - Vehicles must be 25 or more years old and can only be driven for parades, exhibitions, club activities, tours, and other similar events.

If you want to make sure your vehicle modification is legal under the laws in South 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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