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The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in Texas

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

If you live in Texas or plan to move to the state, you need to know the laws concerning modified vehicles. Below you will find information that will help you ensure that your modified car or truck is considered street legal when driving on Texas roads and highways.

Sounds and noise

Texas has regulations in place that limit the sound levels that your vehicle can produce.

Sound systems

  • Sound levels from a car stereo system cannot exceed 68 decibels within 15 feet of the vehicle. Violations are considered a misdemeanor and are punishable by fines of $50 - $1,000 on the first offense and $100 - $2,000 on each subsequent offense.

Mufflers

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

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

Frame and suspension

  • Texas does not limit frame, bumper or suspension lift heights.
  • Vehicles can be no taller than 13 feet 6 inches.

Engine

While there are no regulations mentioned about engine modifications and swaps, many areas in Texas require emissions testing. Visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website for more information.

Lighting and windows

Lights

  • All bulbs must have an SAE or DOT stamp.
  • Red bulbs are currently not DOT approved.
  • Off-road and show-only equipment are not permitted for use on roadways.
  • Stop lamps and tail lamps must emit an amber or red color.
  • Illuminated license plate frames, including neon colors are not permitted.

Window tinting

  • Non-reflective tint is permitted on the windshield above the AS-1 line from the manufacturer or along the top five inches.

  • Front side and back side windows must allow over 25% of light to pass through.

  • Rear window tint can be any darkness.

  • Side mirrors are required with rear window tint.

  • Tint on front side and back side windows cannot be over 25% reflective.

  • Sticker identifying legal tint levels is required on the driver side window between the glass and film.

Antique/classic car modifications

Texas offers a variety of antique and classic car plates:

Antique

  • Vehicle must be over 25 years old.
  • Vehicle is not required to pass annual inspections.

Classic

  • Vehicle must pass annual safety inspection. Certain criteria such as seatbelts will be determined by whether they were originally included by the manufacturer.

Street rods and custom vehicles

  • Street rods are those that were manufactured prior to 1949 or that look as if they were manufactured before 1949.

  • These vehicles require titles and safety inspections.

If you want to make sure your vehicle complies with the laws in Texas, 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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