Modifying a vehicle can transform your ordinary set of wheels into something truly unique. And for some people, there’s nothing better than tailoring a car to match their specific tastes. But if you’re considering making modifications to your vehicle, whether this is something small like adding spoilers, or a larger change like lowering the car’s suspension, there’s a few things you should consider first.
Certain modifications could affect your insurance costs, while others may not adhere to UK law. We’ve therefore looked at a few of the more popular modifications below, and explored the ins and outs of them in more detail.
Drivers looking to improve the handling and performance of their vehicle may consider lowering the suspension. This will generally mean better cornering, traction, as well as improved aerodynamics.
You’ll probably be relieved to know that lowering your suspension is completely legal within the UK, though it is something that will be examined when your vehicle gets an MOT. So you’ll want to ensure that the job gets done right – this may not be a modification that’s easy to do yourself.
While this may seem like an easy change that can totally transform your vehicle, car lighting is actually very highly regulated, so you need to tread carefully. Your front lights can’t be more than 50% dimmed, and have to emit either white or yellow light. Rear lights must be red – any other colour is illegal.
Most neon lights, on the car or under it, are illegal too. Essentially, any lights that could distract other drivers are against the law. The only way you can get away with these sorts of lights is if they only light up when the vehicle is parked.
Like lowering the suspension of your car, adding spoilers can improve the aerodynamics and handling of the vehicle. This modification is also fully legal in this country, as long as the spoilers are secured safely to the body of the car, don’t obscure your vision, and don’t have any protruding or sharp edges.
Bear in mind that spoilers will be considered when you get an MOT, though they are unlikely to cause any problems. The spoilers would have to be very poorly fastened or outrageously large to be an issue.
Putting in tinted windows is a fairly common vehicle modification. But it’s not as simple as just tinting all your windows so that nobody can easily see into the car – there are UK laws to look out for. Although there are no restrictions on the back passenger windows or rear windscreen, your front windscreen must let in at least 75% of light, while the front side windows have to let 70% of light through or above.
These limitations make sense if you think about it – you have to be able to easily see out of your car, otherwise you could get into an accident. Should you wish to install tinted windows, it’s generally cheaper to do this yourself – most of the expenses come from man hours.
You may be able to improve the horsepower of your vehicle with a more efficient exhaust system, though some people are just looking for a showier option. A louder exhaust – imagine something with a deep growling tone – implies that you’ve got a powerful engine. But it’s these loud noises that can make modifying your exhaust illegal, along with exceeding emission regulations.
All UK vehicles have a noise limit of 74 decibels. And if your car goes above this limit, the police will probably hear you coming. Vehicles that don’t meet current legislation are therefore likely to be pulled over fairly quickly.
Can You Modify a Car on Finance?
In most cases, as you’re not the legal owner of a financed vehicle, you won’t be able to make any modifications to it. Ownership of the car essentially stays in the name of the lender until you settle the balance, whether this is the final payment of a hire purchase contract, or the balloon payment of a PCP deal.
However, some finance providers will allow people to modify a vehicle, if they request permission beforehand. This tends to be more common with hire purchase agreements, as the intention is for the borrower to own the car at the end of the contract. With a PCP arrangement, you may have to restore the vehicle to its original condition before handing back the keys.
Does Modification Impact Your Insurance?
For the majority of modifications, your insurance will increase after these have been carried out. Reasons for this include the fact that making a car more unique or attractive could make it a target for thieves. And anything that impacts the performance of the vehicle could impact the likelihood of you being involved in an accident.
Some modifications though, can lower your insurance premium. If you modify your vehicle so that it becomes safer, this will often mean that you pay less for insurance. The main thing to remember is that you need to let your insurer know about any modifications, whether they increase or decrease your premium. If you don’t, you could be declined when you make a claim, or there could be penalty fees.
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