How to Keep a Modified Car Legal

Written by ehow cars editor
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Modifying your car gives you a chance to express your own style and flair. Whether you like the low-slung look with a huge air intake hood or the jacked-up four-wheel drive truck with monster tires, you need to know a few things to keep you on the right side of the law. If your car's not street legal, you could receive a ticket from a police officer.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Keep your seatbelts. If you're installing racing seats in your car, make sure you reinstall seatbelts for the driver and the passenger. Purchase separate floor-mount seatbelts if the originals were seat-mounted.

  2. 2

    Maintain an unobstructed view. When mounting an air intake hood or other features in the front of your car, make sure you have a clear view of the road while sitting in your seat.

  3. 3

    Clear your windshield. Tint only the side and rear windows of your modified car. Your front windshield should be clear, allowing a police officer and other drivers to see inside the vehicle from the front.

  4. 4

    Stay off the road. Unfortunately, some of the modifications you see at car shows are not legal on the street. If you are running straight pipes instead of an approved muffler, you risk getting a fine or having your car impounded if you drive it on public roads. If you're competing in modified car shows, bring your car on a trailer and take it home the same way.

  5. 5

    Raise a pickup truck but keep the bumper at a legal level. Raise trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) with lift kits but make sure their bumpers adhere to a safe level, usually about 15 inches from the ground. Contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for the specifications in your local area.

  6. 6

    Leave the mud flaps on dual rear wheels. Removing them is illegal, since dual wheels tend to throw rocks backwards and into the windshields of vehicles following behind.

  7. 7

    Prepare to speak to local law enforcement if you modify your car to resemble the cars in popular racing movies. Officers are pulling over drivers even if they aren't breaking any traffic laws to allow the officers to determine whether or not the modifications are street-legal.

Tips and warnings

  • Follow the law when modifying your car. Due to the increased incidence of street racing, law enforcement is cracking down on cars that don't strictly adhere to vehicle standards.

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