September 25, 2023

Buying a new car or the first car is always a special feeling for all of us. It doesn’t matter while it is a new one or second-hand car. It always remains very special for us.

Which car modifications are illegal in India?

  • Loudness of the horn: Changing the sound and loudness of the horn is a trend nowadays but the government has declared that to reduce the noise pollution caused by car horns, the horns cannot be louder than 100 decibels.
  • Width and the length of the vehicle: Well everyone wants a limo or an SUV but not everyone can afford it. So, people go on and hinder the length of their cars to make it look like a Limo or an SUV. Well, that’s not allowed by the government too.
  • Width of the tires: This is a no-brainer, bigger tires do look good on your vehicle but increasing the width of the tire to an extent where it protrudes the body of the car, is illegal.
  • Width of alloys: Different alloys can give different looks to your tires but modifying your alloys, where the lip of the alloy protrudes the tire edge has been banned by the government.
  • Modification of engine to a higher capacity one: Inter-changing your engine with a better one does give you better horsepower and efficiency but changing the engine to other than the manufacturer’s specifications is banned too.
  • Tinting the windows: As per The Supreme Court Of India ruling, car window tinting is prohibited in India. The use of window tint of any VLT (Visual Light Transmission) rating on the windscreen (front and rear), side windows is illegal. Tinted windows straight from the car manufacturer are allowed with certain conditions applied.

There is a long-standing debate among the vehicle owners in authorities in India over the extent of the modification. Once the vehicle is on-road and registered with RTO, most of the owners try to modify their vehicles starting from a basic tire change to a complete makeover of a car/ motorcycle. And with this judgment, people are left wondering what can be changed and what can’t be?

Let’s start with modifications that are outlawed. Changing the paint on your motor vehicle to something not mentioned as per your registration certificate, even wraps for that matter, cannot be done without getting the color of your vehicle changed as per your registration certificate by notifying your registering RTO. Upsized wheels that change the track (width between tires) of your vehicle are entirely illegal, although minor changes that do not change the dimensions of the vehicle are possible.

Common Illegal car modifications in India

1 Limbo fabricating

2 Super dark tint casement

3 Exo smelting car

4 Chop weaken

5 Exhaust modifications

6 Fancy number plates

7 Custom car building

8 Very loud sheezer

9 Nitrous inoculation kit

10 Engine interchange without RTO permission

11 Roof modifications

12 Increase in weight of car

According to my perspective modified cars have always been in vogue persevere to entire car lovers across the country, but a number of people know that modification of your cars is sometimes illegal in India because it affects laws and various rules and regulations also creates noise and nuisance in the society.

Modified cars look fascinating but not every car modification is accepted by the law. To know what you should and shouldn’t do when modifying your car, IndianAuto will explain everything about car modification laws in India.

The world of vehicle modification is open for all possibilities. We can see a variety of unusual and exotic modified cars in India, some of which you will never find something similar on the regular car market. The unexpected and unusual style of modified cars is the key to customization’s charm. However, not everyone has the same way of viewing customized cars. These daring car modifications always raise the eyebrows of the lawmakers as traffic regulations in India have strictly ruled out a majority of car customizations as illegal.

Before you handle your cars to the hands of the customizer, it is better that you are fully aware of all the legal stuff regarding the modification of cars.

Why are some modifications classed as illegal?

Before going on sale in the market, each car must go through multiple tests to demonstrate its strength and safety in various driving situations. Everything regarding the structure of a car is well-considered by the engineers to ensure the standard quality for the vehicle. Any adjustment to the core structure can possibly affect the overall quality and upset the dynamics and operation of the whole system.

For instance, some people might not be aware that setting up simple accessories like bull bars on the car fascia can limit the operation of airbags sensors, especially in case of a crash on the front. Another example is the misuse of after-market tires which are bigger than the original tires. This practice will directly affect the emergency braking system. For that reason, no change to the structure and engine is advisable for the sake of car occupants and other commuters’ safety.

Vehicle Modifications Are Now Illegal in India After This Supreme Court Order!

What does the SC judgment say?

The judgment by a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran said in its verdict – “No vehicle can be altered so as to change the original specification made by the manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered, which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration.” According to the provision of the Act, ‘alteration’ means a change in the structure of a vehicle.

The apex court actually sets aside a judgment of a division bench of the Kerala High Court, which earlier said that the structural alteration was permissible as per the provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989. Kerala is known for many modified vehicles on the road. Here’s what the Supreme Court’s judgment that overturns the Kerala High Court judgment says-

“In our considered opinion the Division Bench in the impugned judgment of the High Court of Kerala has failed to give effect to the provisions contained in section 52(1) and has emphasized only on the Rules. As such, the decision rendered by the Division Bench cannot be said to be laying down the law correctly. The Rules are subservient to the provisions of the Act and particulars in certificate of registration can also be changed except to the extent of the entries made in the same as per the specifications originally made by the manufacturer. Circular No.7/2006 is also to be read in that spirit. Authorities to act accordingly.”

What is Section 52 on The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?

The section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 notifies about the alterations in motor vehicles. Here is what it reads-

“No owner of a motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those originally specified by the manufacturer: Provided that where the owner of a motor vehicle makes modification of the engine, or any part thereof, of a vehicle for facilitating its operation by a different type of fuel or source of energy including battery, compressed natural gas, solar power, liquid petroleum gas or any other fuel or source of energy, by fitment of a conversion kit, such modification shall be carried out subject to such conditions as may be prescribed: Provided further that the Central Government may prescribe specifications, conditions for approval, retro fitment and other related matters for such conversion kits: Provided also that the Central Government may grant an exemption for the alteration of vehicles in a manner other than specified above, for any specific purpose.”

What can be modified in a vehicle?

While this can have wide ramifications for the car modification/accessories industry, owners of the vehicle need not worry much. Here’s what can be changed in a vehicle

1) You can change the color of the vehicle as the SC has said that changing the color of the vehicle depending on the customer’s will not deter a vehicle from getting registered.

2) Minor fitments that have door protectors, decals, rain guards can be added.

3) One can change the tires in affordable cars as the manufacturers usually offer different spec tires for base and top variant. E.g., Maruti Suzuki Swift Lxi comes with 160 section tire while the Zxi comes with a 180 section tire. So a Lxi owner can opt for 180 section tires, as the vehicle is the same.

4) The engine can be changed, but it requires prior permission from the RTO. If the protocols are not followed, the vehicle’s registration can be canceled.

The Supreme Court and the Government of India came up with these rules and regulations after thorough research and suggestions. Modification of a vehicle is precisely hard work and involves some skills but only when done properly and safely. The ruling by the Supreme Court is surely a welcome change against the roadside modders who modify cars and bikes for a little amount hence posing a safety threat as well as an environmental one to some extent. This move will surely benefit the companies and organizations which follow the specified protocol in modifying a car and hence keeping the soul of the car alive.

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