The Consequences of Having Illegal Modifications in Your Car


Vehicle owners thinking about personalizing their cars by integrating modifications need to think twice and ask their insurers before executing their plans. Even the slightest of modifications potentially alter the cheap car insurance premiums significantly. They can also read the policy disclosure statements on the car insurance online portal to know their insurance company’s policies around car modifications.

Incorporating modifications is no doubt a splendid way to soup up cars. Yet, the vehicle’s altered appearance or performance because of some modifications may increase the risks of theft or a car collision. It may also make the car more expensive to repair. The amplified risks and payout potential mean the policyholders are more likely to make costlier claims. It is precisely the reason insurance companies find dealing with some modified vehicles a risky business.

Which are the most common illegal modifications?

Plenty of modifications are legal and may not make any difference to an insurance premium. Others are illegal no matter which way you look at it, and these include:

  • Noisy/Loud exhaust systems.
  • Dark (more than permissible limits for a particular state/territory) tinted windows.
  • Non-compliant engine modifications.
  • Integrating superchargers or turbochargers.
  • Lowering the vehicle body too far.
  • Underbody neon lights.
  • Non-compliant tyre replacements, e.g. they don’t adhere to the manufacturer’s minimum load capacity specifications.
  • Replacing seat belts with harness belts that aren’t secure.
  • Roll bars or roll cages.

What happens when your vehicle harbours illegal modifications?

Suppose your car modification belongs to the illegal category of modifications, then you may face any of the three challenges:

  •       Be at a high risk of being issued a heavy fine.
  •       No chance of your car’s registration being renewed.
  •       Vehicle seizure by the police or the state/territory transport authority.

What are the additional challenges to driving a modified car?

Once aware of it, you may have  the police or state/territory transport authority send you a defect notice if you are driving a defective vehicle ( one that doesn’t meet the roadworthiness requisites and registration standards). For instance, if your car has inappropriate tyres or a too-low lowered body, it will need correction before you can legally drive on the road. As a vehicle owner, it is your responsibility to get any defects fixed and only use the vehicle when it is safe and legal to drive.

If you are a young or an inexperienced driver, you may not be sanctioned permission to drive vehicles that have inculcated certain performance modifications.

You may have to seek official approval from the transport authority before carrying on with some complicated modifications like an engine upgrade, steering and brake replacements, gearbox and rear axle changes, etc. 

If you try to claim while you have illegal modifications or mods your insurance company doesn’t know about then your claim could very well be denied and your policy cancelled. Also, there is a high probability of an insurer denying providing you with initial cover if you have a heavily modified vehicle.

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Before proceeding with a car modification, you need to check whether it is legal with your best car insurance company. You may also research to find the applicable guidelines around a particular state or territory’s vehicle standards regarding modifications. The best place to find these resources is on the state or transport authority’s official website and your vehicle insurance portal.

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