Home Cars 20 Car Mods That Are Outlawed In The USA

20 Car Mods That Are Outlawed In The USA

Vukasin Herbez November 30, 2018

The car tuning market is as old as the car industry itself. People have explored ways of improving the exterior, interior, and performance of their cars for decades. For years, most legislators didn’t pay attention to this part of the automobile world since the modifications weren’t serious. After all, they didn’t affect the performance, safety, or stability of vehicles in a major way.

However, in the last few decades, the car tuning scene in the USA has exploded. From coast to coast, car tuners are introducing many products that thoroughly change the driving dynamics and road holding. Some components are strictly aesthetic enhancements, but some are expensive suspension, engine, or chassis modifications. But since most of these products can change the manufacturer’s specifications, affect the car’s stability or even reduce the driver’s visibility, lawmakers have changed the traffic rules.

So now, in most states, the rules of the road forbid car owners to use dangerous or risky parts or components that can affect visibility, lights, stability or emissions. In fact, you could face a big fine if you get caught. Of course, your local laws may vary, but almost all the mods on this list are illegal in most of America.

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20. Light Bars

LED light bars are extremely handy if you use them while driving off-road or in dark areas without traffic. However, it is illegal to have them on the highway unless you turn them off and then cover them. These light bars are infamous for being extremely bright and powerful.

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So, having them on in regular traffic can blind the upcoming drivers, causing accidents. And that is why you should cover them when not in use, so you don`t accidentally turn them on and earn yourself a ticket.

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19. Extremely Loud Sound Systems

Of course, the cops can’t give you a ticket if you have a massively powered audio system in your car and drive with it around. But if you pump that bass beyond the legal limits, be sure that a patrol car will follow you.

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However, the definition of “loud” varies from state to state. Also, most cops measure the decibel level as well as the distance from the car to determine if your audio system is too loud.

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18. Automatic License Plate Covers

Automatic license plate covers are simple devices that mount on your license plate. They allow you to fully cover your plate at the flick of a switch. The trick with this modification is that it is legal to buy and own, but not legal to use. They are useful for drivers who want to violate some sort of traffic rule or law to avoid jail time or a steep fine.

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If there are cameras at the intersection or on a nearby building, all they have to do is press the button and go for it. So remember, if you get caught having one of those devices on your car, you will be in big trouble.

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17. Rolling Coal

If you are not familiar with the concept, Rolling Coal is like a big diesel truck with modifications. Some people tune the engine as well as the exhaust. They produce big clouds of black smoke that looks menacing and sounds like thunder. Rolling Coal trucks are not faster or more powerful than regular diesel trucks, but they are dirtier and louder.

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However, a few states like New Jersey, Illinois, and Texas are looking to make Rolling Coal trucks illegal. Soon, those owners who like to put out enormous clouds of black smoke could pay a fine for as much as $5,000. And once one state passes it, expect the rest of the country to introduce similar laws and regulations.

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16. Nitrous Oxide Kits

Of course, nitrous oxide kits or nitrous kits are popular with speed freaks. When they are properly installed and controlled, they are a potent power upgrade. However, the police are sensitive about nitrous oxide bottles in streetcars. And that is why most Nitrous users hide their bottles in remote areas of the trunk or under their seats.

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The reason is simple. If you have a nitrous oxide bottle in your car, you are not a stranger to street racing, which most states forbid.

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15. Dark Window Tint

Window tint is one of those things every state and county treats differently. In some areas, the darkest five percent tint is illegal to purchase and install. But in some places, you can get off with just a warning. The point is, some lawmakers consider window tint dangerous since it severely limits the driver’s visibility. Also, dark tint can prevent people on the outside from seeing who is in the car.

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Most manufacturers design those high-quality window tints to provide additional privacy without limiting the visibility from the car. Many window tint makers offer factory-installed window tints, but on a smaller scale of up to 75 percent. So, if you want a dark window tint, ask around in the local shops who specialize in installing it. However, be ready to talk to a police officer if you travel to a place with stricter laws on window tint.

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14. License Plate Frames

This is an extremely inexpensive and rather pointless modification. Nobody thought they could outlaw them, but apparently, the police think stylized license plate frames affect the visibility of plates. And that is an offense.

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The problem with thick license plate frames is that they cover most of the plate. This makes it hard or even impossible to read the plate. Some kitschy frames are clearly against the law since they make plates almost unreadable. That is why you should avoid this kind of product since it can cause you a ticket.

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13. Emissions Removal

It is no secret that a car will run better if the exhaust system is free of all catalytic converters and mufflers that can choke the engine. However, in the quest to meet safety regulations, manufacturers install multiple exhaust monitoring sensors, mufflers, and components to pass emissions tests. However, in recent years, most manufacturers are able to produce fast and powerful yet still environmentally-acceptable sports cars.

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But some people remove their mufflers to “free” the engine. But by doing that, they mess with the engine’s electronics and ruin any warranties they have. Also, they’ll have big problems with the law since they clearly forbid cars with emissions equipment missing.

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12. Headlight Modifications

One of the least expensive yet fastest things you could do to mod your car is to change the headlights. With so many quality brand name replacement units, you can give your ride a facelift, but also get the best level of light and visibility. However, some people choose low-quality replacement headlights to save money.

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And they not only ruin the looks, but they also reduce the visibility factor of their car. It is against the law to add headlights that are either too dim or too bright. Both the driver and oncoming motorists must be able to see.

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11. Radar Detector

Radar detectors are a burning question in the car community. Some states consider radar detectors illegal while others allow you to have them. But, if the police prove that you have been using one, you’re going to get a ticket. Also, they are becoming obsolete due to a new generation of police speed radars that use cameras and calculators to determine your speed. That means there are no radar waves to detect or jam. In most cases, police radars send radar waves that bounce off the speeding vehicle and return to the radar, which calculates the returning speed; thus, showing the speed of the moving car. Radar detectors work as a jammer or as an alerting device. The jammers cause police radar to get bad return signals and disable them from reading the speed properly.

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The alerting device tells you there is a radar up the road, so you can slow down in time. In the past, radar detectors proved to be effective, saving many drivers a lot of money. The problem is they also gave motorists the confidence to drive faster, which is unsafe. Today’s radars work more like a camera that calculates the moving speed with great precision. And since there are no radar waves, it is impossible to jam or detect them. So if you already have a radar detector, conceal it and never put it in a visible place like the bottom of your windshield. And finally, if you are planning to buy one, save your money and just drive the local speed limit.

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10. Loud Exhausts

Yes, it’s true that a powerful car needs to have a distinctive and strong exhaust sound. There is no better sound than a raspy V8 on idle. And while a big part of the automotive culture is about the loud exhaust pipes, it looks like the insanely sounding muscle cars are going to be extinct. That’s because most states forbid loud exhausts and ask manufacturers of such systems to tune them to legal decibel limits. It is possible to have a quality-sounding exhaust powerful enough to let you know you are in a fast car. But they can be quiet enough, so they don’t wake up the neighborhood or start car alarms.

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One of the major concerns in urban areas is noise pollution, and much of it comes from cars and other vehicles. So, to keep the noise levels down, police are cracking down on homemade straight pipe exhausts that are louder than approximately 90 decibels.

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9. Bro Trucks

Pickup trucks are the automotive symbol of America and they had been around forever. This means that pickups are the basis for all kinds of modifications. A popular mod is those lift kits that add extra ground clearance for better off-road driving. Also, those lifted trucks look cool and tough, and millions of truck enthusiasts agree. But some drivers take it too far. Commonly known as “Bro Trucks,” those extremely lifted pickups have been popular in recent years, but also illegal in some states. The problem is not with the concept of more ground clearance, though.

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In fact, there are numerous two to three-inch lift kits that will perfectly suit your truck and make it more capable. The problem is when you lift your vehicle two to three feet more than stock. This way you get a truck that is hard to get in and out of that handles poorly and is prone to rollovers. Also, if you are having an extremely high vehicle, it’s hard to see and maneuver in tight spaces, such as parking lots or crowded streets. All this makes extremely lifted Bro Trucks illegal in some states. In fact, most states have imposed the maximum limit for bumper, hood or light height for each specific vehicle class.

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8. Lowriders

Despite the affiliation with criminal gangs, Lowriders are one of the coolest, most impressive types of custom vehicles. Low and lean with wild color schemes, beautiful graphics, shiny chrome and hydraulics systems, how can they be illegal? Apparently, apart from being police magnets, they are also against the law in some states.

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The problem with Lowriders is their ride height. They are so low, they scrape the pavement, which results in the police having to be on the lookout. Some cities allow Lowriders and their signature hopping, but only when the cars are stationary or moving below 15 mph.

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7. Under Body Neon Lights

For decades, laws have prohibited the use of adding flashing red and blue lights to vehicles to keep people from acting like the police. People have used faux police lights to zoom through busy traffic with ease since the other drivers thought they were letting the police go by.

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But when neon lights became popular in the early 2000s, things got even more complicated. When done right, neon can look cool, but still, having an underbody glow can distract other motorists. And that can cause accidents, and eventually a ticket.

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6. Studded Tires in Warm Weather

In some parts of America where the continental climate is harsh and the winters are long, studded tires are a good way to fight icy roads. This is perfectly fine while the weather is cold. But if you use studded tires during spring or summer, you are up for a big fine.

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The reason is simple, they make studded tires to dig into the ice. However, when there is no ice on the road, studs can damage the road surface and destroy the tarmac.

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5. Cold Air Intake

This is a common and practically harmless modification you can do to your car. However, if you live in California, this could be illegal since cold air intakes can change the emissions.

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And because those California laws are particularly strict, it can be a problem with the police. So, before installing the cold air intake, check with the manufacturer.

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4. Messing with the Taillights

Lots of companies offer special taillight replacement. It’s a budget-friendly, easy way to change the look of your car. However, almost all taillight mods are illegal.

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By changing the taillights, you could affect the visibility, affecting driver safety, and that is something the law forbids.

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3. Colored LED Bulbs

Even if you don’t change the headlights but only swap the bulbs, you could still be in trouble. Some states forbid the use of colored LED bulbs in headlights.

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And that is because they are distracting to other drivers and cause serious crashes.

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2. Using Slicks on the Street

If you are a serious racer you know that the tires are a crucial part of a car’s dynamics. In fact, performance tires are a must for any powerful car. However, some racers use slick tires with racing rubber they design to perform best on the track.

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To show off, some drivers mount slick, racing tires on their streetcars and drive around. Unfortunately, doing that is highly illegal since slick tires are useless in the rain and in normal traffic. So, don’t use them, or you will get a big fine.

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1. Using Police Lights

Some people think they are clever to add blue and red lights on their cars to imitate the police car and pass through the traffic with ease. But when they get caught, they not only get an enormous fine but also criminal charges and possible jail time. So, never install a set of blue and red lights behind the grille of your Crown Victoria, since you could end up in major trouble.

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These are the top 20 car mods that are illegal almost everywhere in the USA. Have you ever had one of these mods on your car? Hopefully, you didn’t end up behind bars for using it.

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