Be Smart About Vehicle Modifications

Tinted WindowsThere are many different types of vehicle manufactured today in many different models and colours with a host of accessories to make your ride just right for you. For some of us, this just isn't enough and we want to modify our vehicles to suit our personalities and desires. Some of these modifications are unique and permitted by law, but some are unsafe and will put you in conflict with vehicle safety rules. How do you know what is allowed and what isn't?

One might think that a vehicle purchased new or used from a dealership would be a pretty safe bet to be legal. After all, it is illegal for someone (dealer or not) to display a vehicle for sale or sell it if it is not equipped as required by the Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations. Unfortunately it is still "buyer beware" here too as it is not as illegal modifications are not as uncommon as you would expect, particularly in relation to window tinting.

Common sense might be your next thought. If it wasn't legal, the businesses should not be able to sell the parts to you, should they? If that was true, you would not see ram's head taillight covers, black plastic covers for all lights, light bulbs in all colours of the rainbow and many other common modifications. Beware of the small print: "Consult your local authorities..." It's usually a pretty good indication that you may not want to use it.

Do you have any questions? There are probably three good places to go for advice, the local traffic enforcement unit, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement and your local designated inspection facility. It is always better to ask first and avoid both legal difficulties and wasting the money spent on illegal equipment that will have to be removed.

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A few years ago I bought 2 clear plastic covers for the licence plates on my vehicle, thinking they would be easier to keep clean than the plates.  After opening the package at home I noticed the small print re "Consult your local authority."

So I found the law, being MVA Reg 3.03 which states, "A number plate must be kept entirely unobstructed and free from dirt and foreign material, so that the numbers and letters on it may be plainly seen and read at all times and so that the numbers and letters may be accurately photographed using a speed monitoring device or traffic safety device prescribed by section 83.1 of the Act."

Then I contacted ICBC and the local police regarding enforcement.  ICBC send me an email saying that clear plastic covers were OK, but tinted plastic covers were not because they obscured the plate.  Delta Police agreed that clear plastic covers were OK, but the Surrey RCMP said that license plates are not to be covered by any cover.

I returned the clear plastic covers to Canadian Tire and got a refund.  However, I continue to see many vehicles with a tinted plastic cover over their license plates, so I'm guessing MVA Reg 3.03 is not being actively enforced.

How many raised pickups have we seen on our roadways ?  Most of these raised vehicles are very unstable.  In their original configuration from their manufacturer, they were engineered to be safe and stable.  Changing the suspension and height characteristics can completely alter their stability.

In BC we do a very poor job policing modified vehicles.  It's not like police can't see that these vehicles are raised, they apparently don't know what to do about them or don't care.

Section 25.20 of the MVA Regs "Salvaged, Modified and Reconstructed Vehicles", regulates modified vehicles.

Sec 25.20 This Part applies to a vehicle that was
(b) altered by changes to its suspension height by more than 10 cm from the original basic specification of the vehicle manufacturer.

Sec 25.21 (goes on to say) A person must not drive, operate or park a vehicle on a highway until it has been presented to a designated inspection facility and an approved certificate of mechanical condition in a form set by the director has been issued in respect of the vehicle by an authorized person.

Oh,,, 10 cm ?  is 3.93701 inches, not much at all.  Many of these "jacked up" vehicles are raised much much more than that

What percentage of these vehicles have been certified safe by an inspection facility ?  I would doubt any.