Are Car Modifications in India legal ? Know the Rules Before You Customize

Are Car Modifications Legal in India? Know the Rules Before You Customize

Passionate car enthusiasts who have a deep emotional attachment to their vehicles often personalize them to reflect their unique style and preferences. These customizations can include altering the design, adding interior accessories, or tuning the engine for improved performance. While these modifications might appear unusual to some, they perfectly align with the owner’s vision for their car. In truth, the possibilities for customization are endless for those who are committed to making their car their own.

While many car modifications are allowed by law, some unusual alterations could result in legal issues. It’s essential to prioritize safety for all occupants and bystanders when modifying your vehicle. Avoid any changes that could weaken the car’s chassis or have a negative impact on the environment.

Are Car Modifications Legal in India? Know the Rules Before You Customize
Mahindra Scorpio converted to Limousine, Is it legal ?


For those considering car modifications, here’s a detailed guide outlining permissible and prohibited alterations in India.

Are Car Modifications Legal in India? Exploring Permissible Customization Categories

Car modifications are typically categorized into three types: aesthetic, functional, and performance enhancements.

Aesthetic modifications are the most prevalent and focus on visually enhancing the car without necessarily improving its performance or functionality. While certain aesthetic changes may violate the Motor Vehicle Act, others are permissible. These alterations can involve exterior and interior customizations to create a unique look for the vehicle.

Functional modifications are typically implemented to enhance the convenience and comfort of vehicle use for both drivers and passengers. These modifications focus on improving the overall convenience and comfort level without involving mechanical alterations. They often revolve around the addition of accessories rather than mechanical adjustments. These customizations can encompass both the exterior and interior areas of the car.

Performance modifications are designed to enhance the capabilities of a car, particularly in terms of speed, acceleration, and overall performance. Typically, cars leaving the manufacturer’s plant are optimized for a balance between performance and fuel efficiency. However, enthusiasts looking for more from their vehicle often customize the powertrain to achieve greater performance.

Legal Car Customizations: Enhance Your Ride Within Indian Regulations

Installing Body Kits: Legal Guidelines for Car Customization in India: Installing a body kit on a car is permissible under the law as long as it is securely bolted on and does not compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle. These kits, such as body cladding, side panels, and front splitters, are commonly added to cars to improve their aesthetic appeal. Some automakers also provide these kits as optional factory-installed or dealer-installed accessories, ensuring that they do not void the vehicle’s warranty.

Changing Car Colors: Legal Requirements and Restrictions in India: Altering a car’s color is entirely permissible in India, but it requires approval from the Regional Transport Office (RTO). However, certain colors like Army Green are exclusive to military vehicles and cannot be used on civilian vehicles. If you intend to change your car’s color, it’s essential to obtain approval from the RTO and update the registration certificate with precise details of the new paint color.

Car Wrapping in India: Legal Guidelines for Enhancing Your Vehicle’s Appearance: In India, applying a body wrap to a car is legally permissible, akin to changing its color. Typically, a vinyl wrap is used, directly applied to the vehicle’s surface to safeguard the original paint from environmental damage and minor scratches or abrasions. Moreover, it enhances the car’s glossy appearance. If the body wrap matches the car’s existing color, RTO approval is not necessary. However, if the wrap differs in color from the car’s exterior paint, informing the RTO and updating the registration certificate (RC) is required.

Adding CNG Kits: Legal Protocol for Eco-Friendly Car Modifications in India: Installing an aftermarket CNG kit onto a car is permissible in India. However, it’s crucial to update the vehicle’s documents with the local RTO accordingly and ensure that the installation of the CNG kit is noted in the registration certificate.

Suspension Upgrades: Legal Guidelines for Smooth Rides on Indian Roads: Modifying the suspension of a vehicle is permissible under Indian law as long as the alteration does not substantially raise or lower the vehicle’s ground clearance. Upgrading the suspension without significantly impacting ground clearance can result in a more comfortable ride, particularly on the often challenging Indian roads.

Adapted Vehicles: Legal Rights and Regulations for Differently-Abled Drivers in India: Making modifications to a car to accommodate the needs of a differently-abled individual is legally permissible. As per the amended Motor Vehicles Act, a person with orthopedic disabilities of 40% permanent disability or more is allowed to drive a car with a length of up to four meters. Additionally, they can drive a car with a petrol engine capacity of 1,200 cc or a diesel engine capacity of 1,500 cc. However, these cars must be registered as ‘Adapted Vehicles’ with the local RTO.

Steer Clear: Illegal Car Modifications Under Indian Law

Lighting Up: Navigating Legal Limits for Vehicle Lighting in India: Extra lighting is another area where rule violations are common. According to the Motor Vehicles Act, lights positioned higher than 1.5 meters from the ground are against regulations. This means vehicles with rooftop-mounted lights are breaking the law. Furthermore, it’s illegal for any vehicle to have more than four headlights. Additionally, lights that cause glare within an eight-meter range are prohibited. Cars are not allowed to have extra lights installed in front and above the height of standard headlights. Moreover, such additional lights should be covered while driving within city limits.

Navigating Noise Regulations for Aftermarket Exhaust Systems in India: A popular modification among car and motorcycle owners in India is installing aftermarket exhaust systems. While some of these modifications don’t significantly affect power output, more expensive options can. However, the issue arises with the excessive noise produced by these aftermarket exhausts. The revised Motor Vehicles Act stipulates that any exhaust exceeding 80 decibels is unlawful. It’s advisable not to install such exhausts unless they are RTO-approved. Despite many motorists openly disregarding this regulation, it remains illegal to do so.

Seeing Clearly: Legal Limits on Vehicle Window Tinting in India: As per regulations, the front and rear screens of any vehicle must allow at least 70 percent of visible light transmission. The side windows can be slightly darker, with a requirement of 50 percent sunlight penetration into the car’s cabin. Despite this, many vehicles feature excessively dark tinted windows, which are against the law. These dark tints not only impede the driver’s vision but also hinder visibility inside the vehicle.

Bull Bars: The Misunderstood Safety Hazard on Indian Roads: There’s a widespread misunderstanding that bull bars improve vehicle safety. However, in the event of a collision, bull bars can severely compromise the car’s structure and potentially damage the engine. They also present a significant safety risk to pedestrians. Despite their popularity in India, particularly among SUVs, aftermarket bull bars are unlawful because they are bolted onto the chassis, diminishing the vehicle’s structural integrity. Additionally, they can impede the proper functioning of airbags during a crash, endangering the occupants inside the vehicle.

License Plate Laws: Another common illegal modification is the use of fancy number plates, which is widely practiced. According to Indian law, all vehicles must be equipped with high-security number plates featuring 3D hallmarked “IND” lettering embossed on them.

Structural Integrity: Converting a sedan into a limousine by extending its length or transforming it into a convertible by removing the roof is strictly prohibited in India. Any structural alterations to a vehicle are illegal and can compromise the integrity of the chassis, posing safety risks to occupants.

Engine Swaps: Regardless of how enticing it may seem to upgrade your SUV with a V8 engine at considerable expense, it’s important to note that such modifications are illegal. The registration certificate of the vehicle specifies both the chassis and engine numbers, which must remain consistent throughout the vehicle’s lifespan. If you contemplate replacing your car’s engine, it’s advisable to first seek approval from the local RTO.

Before embarking on any modifications, enthusiasts should consult with the RTO to ensure compliance with regulations and avoid legal repercussions. By prioritizing safety, legality, and environmental concerns, car enthusiasts can continue to enjoy the art of customization while respecting the law.

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