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Drivers warned of court and hefty fines for making four common car modifications

Drivers have been warned against making illegal modifications to their car that could see them hit with a court order, a hefty fine, and points on their license.

Any made to a vehicle that makes it different to when it left the factory is considered a modification and could invalidate car finance PCP and HP agreements.

Vehicle experts at MoneySuperMarket undertook research into the most common car mods in 2021, finding that alloy wheels came in first place — accounting for every 1 in 7 inquiry — followed by suspension changes and exhaust system changes.

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They also looked into which alterations were most likely to invalidate finance policies and land motorists in trouble with the law.

Jo Thornhill from MoneySuperMarket said: “You need to let your finance provider know of any changes to the car, no matter how small.

“That’s because you don’t actually own the car while paying your finance installations on PCP or HP. As long as you are within your contract, the car belongs to the finance company and is their security for the loan.”

“Therefore, the finance company can place restrictions on the car while they are the owner. If they need to recoup their losses due to you not being able to make repayments, they can take the car and sell it.

“But modifications to a car can affect its value; they can either improve it or lower it. In your eyes, you might have improved it, but the finance company may think differently.”

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The experts recommend sticking to your contract and returning the car in its original condition before the end of the agreement, and informing your finance provider of any plans to modify the car in advance to avoid any unexpected financial charges/penalties.

Here is a roundup of four car modifications that could land you in big trouble.

1) Window tints

Risk: £50-100 fine, 3 penalty points or court

7% of all car modification inquiries to MoneySuperMarket were about window tinting. However, tinting your windows more than allowed can result in a £50 to £100 fine, three penalty points or even being reported to court. The front windscreen needs to be 75% tint-free, and the side windows 70% tint-free.

2) Loud exhausts

Risk: Fine or court

Likewise, MoneySuperMarket recorded over 8% of car insurance inquiries for exhaust system changes. But exhaust systems cannot go over the noise limit of 74 decibels.

Again, this can result in a fine or reported to court, as well as making the vehicle more damaging to the environment.

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3) Spoilers

Risk: Police intervention

Spoilers aren’t necessarily illegal. They are popular, with 4% of MoneySuperMarket’s car modification inquiries about adding a spoiler. But, if not installed correctly, it can get you into trouble.

The spoiler needs to be fastened safely. If not, the police could have the power to remove the unsafe spoiler.

4) Nitrous oxides

Risk: £1,000-£2,500 fine

Using Nitrous Oxide to boost your motor speed in a gasoline engine is extremely illegal and dangerous. Doing this can increase cylinder pressure, if they are exposed to enough heat, which could see the nitrous expand within and shatter the cylinders, causing an explosion and costs for you.

Making changes to the engine in an attempt to improve performance could result in safety implications landing you a hefty fine. The potential penalties are £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a van, lorry or bus.

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