- Window tint.
Speaking from personal experience, window tint is one of the most common car mods that police will gladly pull you over for. Regulations very by state, so it’s best to check that stylish mod is legal where you live before “blacking out” your vehicle. In most instances, there are few to no regulations on window tint on the rear windows of your vehicle, so chances are you can tint those to your heart’s content.
- Cat delete.
No, I’m not talking about getting rid of your favorite house cat, I’m talking about removing your catalytic converter (often referred do as a “cat delete”). Your catalytic converter’s purpose is to reduce the amount of harmful emissions your car produces. Legal levels of emissions very by state, but in almost every state, removing the catalytic converter on a road-going vehicle is illegal. In some states you can even be fined for having an under-performing or damaged catalytic converter. So that begs the question, why would anyone remove their catalytic converter? The short answer is to go faster and/or make your vehicle louder. Since your car will function just fine without a catalytic converter (albeit while producing more harmful emissions) it can be removed without damaging the rest of the vehicle. Without the flow of exhaust being impeded by needing to first be filtered through your catalytic converter, the increased flow helps your vehicle produce more power. So, I would steer clear of this modification unless your vehicle is exclusively driven at races and rallies.
- Muffler modifications.
Some people aren’t aware that there is actually a legal limit (in most states) to how loud your car can be. The exact amount of decibels your car’s exhaust noise must be under vary from state to state. Ways that make you car louder than what might be legal include, replacing your muffler with a high-flow one, removing your muffler all together, having a damaged or old muffler, or “Straight piping” your vehicle. Straight piping refers to removing everything from your exhaust system possible, creating the maximum amount of flow from your engine. This is done for the same reason as cat deletes (which is often part of straight piping), to produce more power. But then again, who doesn’t like a loud, meaty exhaust sound? (A lot people, it turns out.)
This one again varies by state, but there are a lot of light-related modifications that will attract unwanted attention from your local police department.
Underglow, for instance (lights underneath your vehicle to light up the ground below it, popular among young people and “ricers”) will almost definitely get you pulled over if the light is either red or blue. In some states you may get pulled over regardless, but red and blue are particularly reserved in some legislature for emergency vehicles only. On top of this, red lights are often exclusively allowed on the rear of your car, so they are not confused for brake lights at night.
Many states also have strict regulations on light bars and headlight color. As a rule of thumb I would not use any aftermarket headlights or colored film over your headlights, unless you are 100% sure of your state laws. Having a light rig on top of your truck or SUV could get some unwanted attention from the police aswell.
- Light tint.
On the same vein and window tint and light modifications, window tint that reduces the brightness of your headlights to unsafe levels. Lights are often darkened in this fashion for cosmetic reasons, included in “blacking out” a vehicle. In most states, this modification is legal as long as your lights aren’t running and your lights otherwise would need to be on. Again, the amount of tint allowed on your lights varies from state to state, so do your homework before opting for this mod.
- Over-sized wheels.
Another lesser-known potentially illegal modification is increasing the size of your wheels. Some regulations prohibit wheel size based on how much larger they can be compared to the manufacturer’s specified wheel size. Other regulations require the wheels to be no wider than the body of the vehicle, as not to stick out beyond the vehicle itself.
One of the more advanced modifications often done to vehicles is tuning. Tuning a vehicle adjusts the internal computers that regulate various things about how the vehicle performs. Most often cars are tuned in this fashion to increase horsepower by increasing fuel consumption and air flow. Due to this increase in fuel consumption, harmful emissions are also increased. This increase in emissions can exceed the allowed limit in your state. So always be cautious and read up on your local emission laws before performing this kind of modification.
- Fuzz Busters.
Radar detectors (often referred to as “fuzz busters”) or prohibited in many states. Radar detectors are small devices often placed on the inside of vehicles. Their purpose is to scan for police radars nearby and alert the driver that a police radar is close. This way, the driver has a better idea when “the coast is clear” and they can speed or perform other illegal activities while driving, and is why they are so widely prohibited.
- Lift kits.
A popular modification for trucks is a lift kit. Lift kits add height to your vehicle, and make the vehicle more ideal for off-roading and other work. Trucks are often lifted for the aesthetic, and often times to an amount that adversely affects handling and visibility why driving. These reasons are why there are limits in most states on lifting trucks, some limiting the height of the lift, others banning them almost altogether.
- Lowered suspension.
On the flip-side of increasing the height of your suspension with a lift kit, lowering your suspension may also get you pulled over. In most states, a car’s suspension must past a certain height. While hydraulic suspension provided a safer way to lower a vehicle’s suspension without damaging the vehicle, hydraulic suspension has been out-lawed on road-going vehicles in many states.
- License plates.
So, obviously license plates aren’t illegal. However, there is a slew of laws surrounding license plates, and to what extent you can modify them. Many people opt to have a frame around their license plate, change the location of the plate, or only have one license plate instead of two. This is one modification that is most depending on what state you live in.
This is one you probably already knew was illegal, or at least assumed so. It also probably won’t get you pulled over, but might run you a serious fine if it’s discovered if you’re pulled over for something else (like speeding, because, you know, nitrous is good for that). Nitrous is dangerous as not only can the sudden increase in power make handling your vehicle difficult, but can cause unpredictable drivetrain failure. In the event of an accident, the high pressure and high flammability of the nitrous can be a major hazard. With the high risk and danger involved with nitrous, this is simply one mod I would steer away from, even if it wasn’t so widely banned from street use.
- Loud stereos.
One mod many people go for first is an upgraded stereo. While there is nothing illegal about an upgraded stereo, there is a noise limit. Many states have a noise limit for stereo systems similar to those about exhaust systems. As long as you keep your volume at a reasonable level, you should have nothing to worry about regardless if your stereo system. But if you max out the volume in a residential area, be prepared to deal with the consequences.
There you are, 13 of the most common car mods that could get you pulled over. Of course, there are other mods that will get you pulled over, but these are the ones you will see most often. Thanks for reading!