8 Car Modifications that are Illegal in The U.S.

There was a time when people thought car modifications mean adding cool racing stickers. However, popular car action movie franchises like Need for Speed and The Fast and the Furious have started an everlasting craze of car modifications that goes insane. Many American youngsters spend thousands of dollars on car modifications to improve its performance, looks, and sound.

However, most of these people aren’t aware of car modification laws and end up losing their money, time, and also expectations. We’ve made a list of 8 car modifications that are illegal in the U.S.

8 Car Modifications That are Illegal in The U.S.

There could be a broad list of car mods that are beyond what the U.S. law allows and there have been many cases where owners have to remove the mods to avoid their cars getting seized. Here are the top 8 popular car mods that are completely illegal in the U.S.

8 Car Modifications That are Illegal in The U.S.

1. Lights on Rooftops

This may seem ridiculous but lights on the front rooftop of a truck could lead to serious dangers. Some truck drivers spend a ridiculous amount of money on lights and other upgrades to feed their pride and joy. It’s like they are made for some lifelong journey instead of a school run or regular morning commute. Though these lights can be useful for after dark road trips, it is also as dangerous. Some states have prohibited the use of these lights.

In 2017, North Carolina prohibited the use of these lights by passing a law as it used to distract or blind other riders.

2. Loud Exhausts

All new vehicle’s exhausts are equipped with something known as a muffler. It controls the noise levels coming from the exhaust. Generally, it is illegal to remove it but many enthusiasts exchange it with aftermarket exhausts to make the engine roar more bassy. Again, different states have different rules on exhaust sound levels. In Texas, you can get away with any engine noise because of a lack of rules. California allows up to 95 decibels while Kansas limits it to below 90 when measured from 50 feet. Minnesota requires all vehicles to be equipped with mufflers at all times. Remove it or use one that’s too loud and you’ll get a ticket to harsher punishment.

3. Nitrous


Okay, sure, the use of Nitrous depends on the state you live in.  But it is also true that not a single NOS manufacturer would say that it is completely okay to have a bottle of Nitrous hooked up for use on a public street. Most of the states restrict the use of nitrous off roads. While some places like California have a unique set of rules.

95% of sports cars indeed get a nitrous kit but one can only use it on racing tracks or private property. It isn’t supposed to be used on the streets. The reason is that it endangers even first responders’ lives while dealing with accidents. And anything that would make a fireman nervous isn’t supposed to be on regular streets.

4. Neon Lights

Many would think, why on earth someone would have a problem with funky neon lights? While it may look your vehicle looks cool and flashy while driving, it’s not so cool to end up hurting someone. Extra neon lights distract not only others but the driver also, especially in a tunnel. Arizona only allows amber and white neon lights on the side of the car. Michigan has banned red and blue lights as it can confuse other drivers with a police car,

5. Removing Emission Equipment From Exhaust

We are continuously taking steps towards environmentally friendly cars. The success of Tesla, hybrids and EVs is a pure example of reduced pollution from cars. There are a set of rules for the allowance of emission from exhausts of cards that rely on gasoline but any mods on exhausts can worsen the amount and type of emission from the exhausts that can lead anyone to charges.

All cars come with devices to control the emissions but if you want to remove them for fun or to modify the performance of your car, then be also ready for charges under the Clean Air Act.

6. Lifted Suspension

Lifted Suspension

This is one of the most common types of modification used in trucks. However, some legal boundaries do apply as they can man trucks difficult to handle and dangerous on roads. If you are travelling from one state to the other, then do check the local suspension norms. For example, Connecticut allows living suspension to a maximum of 4 inches while Georgia limits it to only 2 inches.

7. Number Plate Frames

People also like to personalize their number plates to reflect their own personality and style. There isn’t a law in place to stop anyone from customizing number plates. You can do Disney princess or Star Wars. No one will object to the frames as long as it isn’t obstructing the view of the number plate. It all depends on the state. For instance, North Caroline has completely banned frames on number plates for all vehicles registered in the state.

8. Very Low Ground Clearance

Low ground clearance

This modification not only improves appearance and handling. Sometimes people go to extreme levels to reduce ground clearance and to reduce drag to achieve faster speed. Many states have limitations on how low the ground clearance can be. They all have different rules. Break it and you’ll find yourself in big trouble. Georgia’s 2-inch ground clearance also applies to lowered suspensions.

Reasons Why Some Car Mods are Illegal

We all know that young men and women with car craze often tend to overlook not only their own but also people’s safety. This is the only reason why there has been a set line on what a car owner can and cannot modify. Some performance-improving mods tend to endanger many lives while some simple mods like bright rooftop lights, coloured led headlights, low suspension aren’t even ideal for driving and also breach U.S. safe driving norms.

That’s why it has become important to set some ground rules and limiting standards for car modifications.


All in all, the laws and restrictions on car modifications are in place for safety reasons. One cannot use nitrous on regular roads and simply get away with it. Moreover, the different statewide rules make things even more complicated. People love to put their own stamp and fulfil their own joy with over-the-top customizations. They spend ridiculous amounts rising their insurance premium and end up violating the rules. Our list of popular illegal car modifications will help you better to understand the state-wise situation of the laws.

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