01 Mar 2019

Vehicle modifications you didn't know were illegal

Is your car street legal?
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There are a tonne of car mods out there, from upgraded exhausts to pimped speakers. But did you know that there are some common mods that aren’t street legal?

Car enthusiasts love to upgrade their vehicles and are well aware of the legal do’s and don’ts, most of the time anyway.

But for the average driver, there are some simple and common modifications they might not know can get you in trouble with the law.

Here are three of the most common mods that get people into trouble and their corresponding national standards that you need to adhere to.

  1. Increased towing capacity

It has been fairly standard practice in Australia to modify our suspension, tow bars and hitches to increase our towing capacity.

Modifying your vehicle to improve its towing capacity is called changing the Gross Combination Mass (GCM) and it is now outlawed by the Federal Government.

Previously, new cars could be modified pre-registration but new laws that came into effect from July 1, 2018 mean that practice is now banned.

This gets murky when you are talking about cars that are already registered, with laws differing from state to state. Check with your local motoring authority before changing the GCM of your vehicle.

  1. Tinted windows

Once, you could buy adhesive tinting strips and just do the job yourself.

However, the laws were changed in 1995 to stop people from tinting their windows to the point that no one could see inside their vehicle.

For windows in the front seat (including the windscreen), the current legal standard is set at 35 percent luminous transmittance (LT).

These laws were revised in 2017, though, which means that windows to the rear of the driver can now be tinted to 20 percent LT.

  1. Lowering your vehicle’s suspension

There is some confusion over how low you can go when it comes to your suspension.

The National Code states that all parts of your vehicle that are not connected to the wheels or mud flaps must not be less than 100mm from the road.

That figure is for a fully-laden vehicle as well, which is where some people can come unstuck.

The best way to test your lowered vehicle (before the police do) is to get a block that is 100mm high, load your car up with passengers and ensure that your vehicle clears the block.

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