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The Guide to Legal Car Modifications in Virginia

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

Whether you currently live in Virginia or plan to move to the area, you need to be aware of the regulations that affect the modifications you make on your vehicle. The following information will help ensure that your car or truck has modifications that keep it street legal on the roads in Virginia.

Sounds and noise

Virginia sound regulations cover the sound system and the muffler.

Sound systems

  • Generally, the sound system cannot be so loud that it disturbs others who are at least 75 feet from the vehicle. Additionally, it has to be at a volume that does not cover the sound of emergency vehicles when on the roadways.

Mufflers

  • All vehicles must have mufflers that prevent unusual or excessive noise.

  • Modifications that make the exhaust system louder than it was from the manufacturer are not permitted.

  • Chambered pipes, which are those that have dents or grooves in the pipes, are not permitted.

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

Frame and suspension

Virginia has regulations for bumper height based on the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

  • Less than 4,501 GVWR – Maximum front bumper height is 28 inches, rear is 28 inches
  • 4,501-7,500 GVWR – Maximum front bumper height is 29 inches, rear is 30 inches
  • 7,501-15,000 GVWR – Maximum front bumper height is 30 inches, rear is 31 inches
  • Vehicles can be no taller than 13 feet 6 inches
  • Front lift blocks are not permitted

Engine

Virginia requires emissions testing throughout several cities and counties. Visit the Virginia DMV website to learn more. Additionally, the maximum size for a hood scoop is 38 inches wide by 50.5 inches long by 1.125 inches tall. No other regulations are listed for engine swaps or modifications.

Lighting and windows

Lights

  • Two fog lamps are permitted – front lamps must be clear or amber, rear must be red

  • No more than four lights can be lit at one time

  • Blue and red lamps are only permitted for Department of Corrections vehicles

  • Flashing and rotating lights are not permitted on passenger vehicles

  • Lights that turn on together must emit the same color light (ie. Headlamps, tail lamps, etc.)

  • All lamps must have DOT or SAE stamp

Window tinting

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

  • Front side window tint must allow over 50% of light to pass through

  • Rear window and back side window tint must allow over 35% of light to pass through

  • Side mirrors are required with rear window tint

  • Reflective tint cannot reflect more than 20%

  • Red tint is not legal for use

Antique/classic car modifications

Virginia allows for antique or vintage plating of vehicles that are over 25 years old. These plates limit the use to shows, parades, tours, and similar activities, along with “pleasure driving” that does not go over 250 miles away from your current residence. These vehicles cannot be used for daily transportation.

If you want to make sure your vehicle is street legal in Virginia, 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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