Little-known motoring rule could see drivers hit with hefty £2.5k fines

We've all heard of pimping our rides, but it may not always be worth making your car look pretty.

While car modifications, such as installing subwoofers or tinting windows, can enhance a vehicle's performance or aesthetics, it's important you know what you're doing.

This is because some alterations can result in substantial fines and penalties for drivers. If you get it majorly wrong, you're looking at coughing up as much as £2,500.

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To help motorists stay on the right side of the law, car insurance experts at Compare the Market examined the different rules and regulations regarding car alterations. The team also shed light on how changing a car can impact insurance prices.

Little you may know, you can actually face pricey penalties for making some of the most popular car modifications. Though some changes may help your vehicle look good, the alterations may not aid you in the long-run.

So avoid breaking the bank by staying away from some common makeover mistakes.

Here is how making some modifications can impact your wallet.

Lowering suspension, adding large spoilers or tinting headlights – £2,500 fine and three points

Lowered cars aren’t necessarily breaking the law, but the alteration must not interfere with the steering or affect the height of the headlights on the car. Suspension changes should always be carried out by a competent mechanic, and components should never be cut and welded together as this can make the car dangerous to drive.

Adding a spoiler to a vehicle also isn’t illegal, but the spoiler must be securely fitted to the bodywork to make sure it won’t detach when driven, and it shouldn’t have any dangerously sharp edges. Under regulation 30 of the Highway Code, the spoiler also can’t obstruct the driver’s view of the road or traffic.

Headlights can be tinted, but by no more than 50%. The tint should also not alter the colour of the light, meaning they should remain white or yellow at the front and red at the rear.

The Highway Code states that car lights must be working at all times, and they should also be kept clean and clear. If drivers fail to comply with any of these regulations and are therefore seen to be using their car in a dangerous condition, they could face a fine of £2,500, plus three penalty points on their licence.

Installing a subwoofer – the vehicle could be seized by the police

Installing a subwoofer isn’t against the law, but if drivers are deemed to be playing it loud enough to cause alarm, distress or annoyance then the police have grounds to stop the vehicle.

Under the Police Reform Act 2002, they also have the power to seize and remove the car if a driver fails to adhere to a warning about noise levels.

Tinting windows – £60 fine and three points, along with the car taken off-road until the window tint is removed

The law states that the front windscreen of a car must let at least 75% of light through, while the front side windows must let at least 70% in.

It's illegal to fit or sell glass that breaks these regulations, and if a car’s windows are tinted too heavily, the driver could be given a "prohibition notice", which stops them from using the vehicle until the extra tint is removed.

Alternatively, they might receive a penalty charge notice, which would result in a fine of £60 and three penalty points.

Modifying the exhaust to make it louder – £50 fine and the car taken off-road until the exhaust is removed

It's illegal to modify an exhaust to make a vehicle louder after it has been "type approved", meaning it meets environmental and safety standards. The police can also take action if a vehicle’s silencer doesn’t work in the way it was designed, or if a motorist is deemed to be driving in a way that creates too much noise.

If drivers are caught with an excessively noisy exhaust, they could face an on-the-spot fine of £50, and their car may be taken off the road until the offending exhaust is removed.

Motor insurance expert at Compare the Market, Julie Daniels, said: "No matter how minor the modifications are, any alterations to a car can potentially impact the cost of yourcar insurance. Often it will cost more to insure a modified car because of factors such as a greater possibility of theft, higher risk of speed-related accidents or simply because your car has increased in value and may now cost more to repair.

"If you decide to modify your car while you have an existing insurance policy, you need to notify your provider about the change. Ideally, you should check with your provider before altering your vehicle, to find out how it might affect your premium or if there will be any amendment fees involved.

"You must also do your research to ensure that all your modifications are legal. If any changes break the law, then you won’t be able to take out cover at all, and you’ll also risk hefty fines and penalties."

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