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Old 04-07-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default 10 Common Illegal Alterations Made to Cars



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Editorís Note: The following article is from Criminal Justice Degrees Guide and has been reprinted here with permission.

Itís a fact, we love cars. But we love them even more when they look and sound nice too. If you want to have the sharpest-looking car or meanest-sounding truck on the block, you may have to make some alterations to get these desired results. What many drivers donít know is that some of the coolest and most popular car modifications are actually illegal. The rules and regulations on vehicle alterations tend to vary from state to state, but these 10 illegal alterations are some of the most common ones out there.
1. Window tinting
Dark window tinting is one of the most common illegal alterations made to cars. Every state has different laws regarding window tinting and regulations, including light transmittance and location of tinting. Some states are stricter about tinting the driverís side window and the windshield. For the most part, a light tint is the best way to go and will keep you out of trouble with law enforcement.
2. License plate frames
Customizing license plates and the frames that keep them in place is very popular. It may seem harmless to have a customized frame that advertises a dealership or your favorite sports team, but you can actually get pulled over and ticketed if the frame covers up the state name or numbers in any way. Tinted and reflective-plate covers are also illegal in many states.
3. Exhaust
Adding a performance exhaust to your vehicle can make it more powerful, faster, and louder than before. Drivers who install a new exhaust system may have a noisier and meaner sounding vehicle, but youíll also run the risk of being ticketed if itís too loud and causes any noise complaints.
4. HID headlamps
Drivers who want a customized look for their car might be tempted to get a HID headlamps kit to install, but this popular alteration is illegal in all 50 states. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that no HID headlamps meet the federal photometric standards, so if you install these you may end up with a pricey ticket.
5. Undercarriage lighting
Undercarriage lighting is a popular, but often illegal alteration made to cars. Adding bright neon or LED lights may be illegal in your state, especially if it interferes with the front and rear lighting. Some states have restricted certain colors and color combinations that might cause confusion or distractions on the road.
6. Lifts
Lifting the suspension or frame and body of your vehicle can drastically change the way your car looks and drives. As popular as this alteration is, your state may have a limit on how high you can go. Some states set their height restrictions based on maximum headlight and taillight heights and others measure by maximum bumper heights. Depending on the state you live in or drive through, you could be ticketed for an excessive lift.
7. Muffler delete
Drivers who want to increase the horse power and noise level of their vehicle may consider installing muffler delete pipes. But itís important to know that every state has different laws relating to muffler delete alterations, but for the most part, itís illegal. Most states require all vehicles have a working muffler to prevent excessively loud or unusual noises, but adding a muffler delete or similar device to your vehicle is illegal.
8. Studded tires
Many drivers install studded tires to get better traction on slippery roads during the winter season, but these tires can also destroy pavement. Even though studded tires have been approved by the federal government and received the DOT rating, some states do not allow them on their roads or only at certain times of the year.
9. Off-road lamps
High intensity off-road lamps are very bright and very illegal in some states. These 100-watt (or more) lights are often attached to the grille of trucks or mounted on the roof of vehicles. Off-road lamps might help you find your way through the dark wilderness, but they are completely unnecessary for everyday driving. The range, intensity, and light patterns of these lamps are extremely distracting on the road and can cause danger to oncoming traffic.
10. Cold air intake
This is a common alteration made to mostly muscle cars and four-cylinder import vehicles. Drivers install cold air intake systems for various reasons, but one of the most common is to produce more power from the engine. But this increase in power can result in an increase in fuel consumption and emissions. Your car may seem like itís running better, but if youíre exceeding the legal emissions limits, you could be in trouble with the law.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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#10? Seriously?

Most any car, you install a free-er flowing intake, you GAIN MPG.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:43 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by WeldingHank View Post
#10? Seriously?

Most any car, you install a free-er flowing intake, you GAIN MPG.
Especially in conjunction with one of these:




























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Old 04-07-2012, 10:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by WeldingHank View Post
#10? Seriously?

Most any car, you install a free-er flowing intake, you GAIN MPG.
No change either way as mass air flow sensor will automatically adjust fuel to air.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by teh POD View Post
Especially in conjunction with one of these:

LMAO!
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:37 PM   #6
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No HID headlamp meeds the standards...

Try no AFTERMARKET HID Retrofit.

They wouldn't be DOT certified on ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT if those didn't meet the standards... and retrofitting OE HIDS meet the standards just as any car built with factory HIDs meets them.

Tinting that abides by the law is not illegal.

License plate covers that meet the law are not illegal.

Exhaust is only illegal if it violates noise ordinance, (which is not enforced considering all of the flatulent trucks and motorcycles around here) or defeats emission control devices, like the catalyzers. Or if the government is overstepping.

Studded tires are not always illegal.

Almost the whole list is based on circumstance, not completely illegal at all times, in all locations. If most of the circumstances of these things are legal, but some are beyond the legal limits, is it really accurate to portray many of these activities as illegal?

A lot of this is government over-reach making laws prohibitively restrictive for their own purposes, usually to collect fine revenues.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:46 PM   #7
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So muffler deletes are illegal, but catalytic converter deletes aren't. . .

Nick
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:48 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
No HID headlamp meeds the standards...

Try no AFTERMARKET HID Retrofit.

They wouldn't be DOT certified on ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT if those didn't meet the standards... and retrofitting OE HIDS meet the standards just as any car built with factory HIDs meets them.

Tinting that abides by the law is not illegal.

License plate covers that meet the law are not illegal.

Exhaust is only illegal if it violates noise ordinance, (which is not enforced considering all of the flatulent trucks and motorcycles around here) or defeats emission control devices, like the catalyzers. Or if the government is overstepping.

Studded tires are not always illegal.

Almost the whole list is based on circumstance, not completely illegal at all times, in all locations. If most of the circumstances of these things are legal, but some are beyond the legal limits, is it really accurate to portray many of these activities as illegal?

A lot of this is government over-reach making laws prohibitively restrictive for their own purposes, usually to collect fine revenues.
Well, while it is circumstancial, by avoiding them altogether, the government doesn't collect any fine revenue.
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:07 PM   #9
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Penalizing the citizenry through frivolous fines, are an unequally applied tax.

This is a nation of laws... and the law is supposed to be written for all people, not to single out certain activities of certain people, or to be written such to make reasonable people into law breakers, in order to control or extort money from them.

Maybe the government should be spending our money more wisely, and not need to collect fines for frivolous things that shouldn't be crimes.

There shouldn't be monetary gain as motivation for the police to enforce the law anyway. Law enforcement should be a legislative budget item, and any fines collected should not be used in a way that sways the enforcement or creation of the law.

Fiscal responsibility would also lower the tax burden as well.

But they have been so fiscally irresponsible, at such a high rate, and for so long, that it may be beyond being solved.
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:14 PM   #10
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1-neon srt4 came with no mufflers. only resonators. 2- ive got a ticket for 100% clear plate covers. 125 bucks. 3- illegal exhaust, are you kidding me? harleys and sport bikes are 20 times louder than most cars on the road today.
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Old 04-09-2012, 10:01 PM   #11
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if only they would actually enforce illegal HIDs
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Old 04-09-2012, 11:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cefoskey View Post
if only they would actually enforce illegal HIDs
It's hard to enforce because:

1. Unless it's way off (like below 4000k or above 6000k), it may not be too obvious for cops to ticket
2. Some people do install them on cars that have HIDs as an option, so it's not as if cops know for sure if it's a trim level that did or didn't come with them
3. Cops are also looking out for hundreds of other moving violations at the same time, some of which aren't based on actual driver errors... out of date tags and the other stuff already mentioned (front plates, tint, suspension height, etc.).
4. Just because you still see cars with aftermarket HIDs doesn't mean that it's not being enforced
5. Headlights are on at night, and unless the cop is driving into the vehicle head-on, then all they'll see is headlights in their rear view or on the other side of the road and not necessarily the actual car itself, so unless it's an old piece of crap, it may not be obvious to them that it's a car that doesn't have available HIDs unless they have memorized every car's headlight clusters
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:25 PM   #13
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I feel like this article is to identify common modifications that people make, but is trying to point out that these people may not realize that there are certain provisions regarding those modifications to make them legal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
No HID headlamp meeds the standards...

Try no AFTERMARKET HID Retrofit.

They wouldn't be DOT certified on ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT if those didn't meet the standards... and retrofitting OE HIDS meet the standards just as any car built with factory HIDs meets them.
Factory HIDs are legal, some faux HID's or DIY stuff are not. Most people use the wrong HID's...

Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
Tinting that abides by the law is not illegal.

License plate covers that meet the law are not illegal.

Exhaust is only illegal if it violates noise ordinance, (which is not enforced considering all of the flatulent trucks and motorcycles around here) or defeats emission control devices, like the catalyzers. Or if the government is overstepping.

Studded tires are not always illegal.
Certainly, and as you had identified, these are legal if they are within the confines of the law. Though, lol to the part I bolded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
Almost the whole list is based on circumstance, not completely illegal at all times, in all locations. If most of the circumstances of these things are legal, but some are beyond the legal limits, is it really accurate to portray many of these activities as illegal?
Most people make these modifications without understanding what the law is. The article kind of makes it seem like these mods are worse than they are, but is trying to make you to think twice before you mod your car.

Person: "I'm going to put limo tint on all my windows and remove my exhaust because it seems cool and I see it on other cars"

Article's attempt: "Before you do, check your local laws."

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Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
A lot of this is government over-reach making laws prohibitively restrictive for their own purposes, usually to collect fine revenues.
...lol
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:14 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by WeldingHank View Post
#10? Seriously?

Most any car, you install a free-er flowing intake, you GAIN MPG.
Unless your new car has a carb or speed density EFI, nothing about a CAI or air filter is going to change MPG one bit.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:42 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by 424wrx View Post
. 2- ive got a ticket for 100% clear plate covers. 125 bucks. 3- illegal exhaust, are you kidding me? harleys and sport bikes are 20 times louder than most cars on the road today.
Nobody said the clear plate cover was legal. There are lots of loud bikes, there are lots of loud cars, sometimes they get pulled over. Do you really believe loud bikes don't get hassled? And most bikes are on the roads for a small fraction of the miles of a car, so of course a loud car is more likely to be heard by The Man.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:00 AM   #16
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If you put hid bulbs in a headlamp for halogen bulbs, it causes distracting light patterns because the reflector shape is not designed for it. That is probably why they are not legal.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:06 AM   #17
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motorcycles are not subject to the same exhaust laws as cars....


know your laws before disputing them
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:26 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by island boyeee View Post
motorcycles are not subject to the same exhaust laws as cars....


know your laws before disputing them
Not necessarily true. There are now emissions laws that bikes built after 2006 must meet stricter tailpipe emissions laws and typically require the use of a catalytic converter of some kind. Removing any of those components would be breaking federal laws, just the same way as it would if you did on a passenger car.

Many states also have local mandates on decibel levels for motorcycles.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:44 AM   #19
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sorry, i was referring to volume, not emissions.


and i'm in MA, only referencing what i know holds true here. and in all of New England, for that matter.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:09 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by island boyeee View Post
sorry, i was referring to volume, not emissions.


and i'm in MA, only referencing what i know holds true here. and in all of New England, for that matter.
Massachusetts

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 82 decibels when measured at a speed of 45 mph or less.

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at a speed of over 45 mph.

http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/moto...-noise-limits/
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:59 AM   #21
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2 exhaust modifications (since I count the muffler as part of that) and no mention of removing catalytic converters? I think that article misses the big issue with exhaust modifications. Probably more important than the noise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HipToBeSquare View Post
Penalizing the citizenry through frivolous fines, are an unequally applied tax.

This is a nation of laws... and the law is supposed to be written for all people, not to single out certain activities of certain people, or to be written such to make reasonable people into law breakers, in order to control or extort money from them.
That's a good argument for a national standard backed up with yearly inspections that go beyond an OBDII scan. I agree.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grzydj View Post
Massachusetts

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 82 decibels when measured at a speed of 45 mph or less.

A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at a speed of over 45 mph.

http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/moto...-noise-limits/
huh... i've never seen or heard that mentioned. i guess it's bc there is no way they could ever enforce that
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:05 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by island boyeee View Post
huh... i've never seen or heard that mentioned. i guess it's bc there is no way they could ever enforce that
Probably because most Harley Davidson's are ridden by middle aged white guys, which cops don't hassle.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Snowphun View Post
Nobody said the clear plate cover was legal. There are lots of loud bikes, there are lots of loud cars, sometimes they get pulled over. Do you really believe loud bikes don't get hassled? And most bikes are on the roads for a small fraction of the miles of a car, so of course a loud car is more likely to be heard by The Man.
Exactly -- unfortunately too many people think that certain laws are not being enforced just because THEY don't see everyone violating that vehicle code getting ticketed.

I will say that loud motorcycles, as obnoxiously loud as they are (and also how their owners tend to go full throttle at every opportunity), do seem to get less attention, but again, I'm sure that they get tickets too.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:50 PM   #25
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well i'm 27 on a sport bike... never been bothered. nor have any of my friends i ride with
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