Car and Bike Mods: Are They Illegal?

by Kshitij Rawat | 22/08/2019
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We love to customise our vehicles, but do we understand how such modifications can affect our vehicles?

Adding bull bars to our cars and replacing stock exhausts on our motorcycles for loud ones, these are just some of the most popular modifications we do on our vehicles. Sadly, such modifications are illegal and may cause the cops to be on your tail. To quote Article 52 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, “Provided further that the Central Government may prescribe specifications, conditions for approval, retrofitment and other related matters for the alteration of motor vehicles and in such cases, the warranty granted by the manufacturer shall not be considered as void for the purposes of such alteration or retrofitment.”

What that means is, any modification that doesn’t come straight from the manufacturer and isn’t certified by the central government is deemed illegal by default. Sounds pretty serious right? That’s because it really is! The implications of this Bill are tremendous, and much more serious than you’ve previously thought.

 Police checking for illegal mods and writing fines for offenders

Also check- 7 Unpopular Traffic Rules In India You Might Not Know

The reason for this rather dramatic decision is primarily because of safety concerns. Amidst rising concerns about the high numbers of road accidents and fatalities, the Government of India is pushing for higher safety standards in Indian road cars. Auto manufacturers have largely been accepting of this, especially Tata Motors. In fact, Tata Nexon was the first vehicle by an Indian manufacturer to ever receive a 5-star Global NCAP rating.

What does all this have to do with your sweet mods, you ask? Well, those mods can sometimes hamper with the safety features provided in the vehicle. Bull bars, which used to be a very popular accessory on SUVs and MPVs, reduce the crumple zone in case of a collision, leading to more sever impact on the passengers of the vehicle. They can also interfere with the sensors that deploy the airbags, thereby increasing the risk even further. Other times, the mods don’t increase the risk of an injury, but rather become the cause of injury themselves. Just look at how a poor-quality alloy wheel caused an unprompted accident.

Does this mean you should refrain from customising your ride? No, it certainly doesn’t! All it means is that you need to be careful and follow certain guidelines. Custom paintjobs are not outlawed, neither are stickers and wrappings on the exterior of the car. You only need to make sure you get the approval of your local RTO before you take to the road. You can also upsize tyres and fit additional equipment on your car, provided that the weight of the vehicle is not affected more than 2%. Any aftermarket CNG or LPG kit that you purchase should also be approved by the Govt. of India, and needs to be mentioned on the registration certificate by your local RTO.

Illegal exhausts on Royal Enfield bullets removed by policeIn terms of changes to the interior of the car, things are more lenient. You can change your seats, seat covers, interior lighting, infotainment system, sound system, etc., as you like. You cannot, however, play excessively loud music on public roads, and tinted glasses are banned. Other than that, you cannot fit a loud aftermarket exhaust or express your creativity on your vehicle’s number plate. These things are sure to land you in trouble. Needless to remind you, the fines for such infractions have also been increased by a huge margin!

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