Modified cars – what you need to know
Cars can be modified to improve performance or style. If you’re considering modifying your car or you have purchased a modified car, you can find information below on modifications including in-car entertainment, lights or reflectors, suspension and brakes.
What is a car modification?
A car modification is a change made to a vehicle so that it differs from the manufacturer’s original factory specification. The changes can be made to improve performance, aesthetics, or be purely functional.
Staying safe and legal is extremely important when modifying your car. It is essential to remember that too many modifications can affect the road handling of your car. It could also put you on the wrong side of the law and perhaps your insurance company.
Over the last few years there has been a huge increase in the amount of in-car entertainment devices that have become available for the motorist.
However, it’s important to remember that as technology improves, the driver of the car still has the most important job to do – and that means they must not get distracted by in-car entertainment, such as watching a TV screen in the rear-view mirror, or rummaging around with an MP3 player. Moving images within view of the driver are illegal whilst driving.
Lights or reflectors
Headlamps must show a substantially white or yellow light. Rear position lamps must show a steady red light to the rear only. Tinting of rear reflectors which will reduce efficiency in darkness is not permitted
Wheels and tyres
Changes to wheels and tyres can significantly alter your car’s behaviour on the road. Important points to consider when fitting bigger wheels and tyres is to:
* ensure they are approved by the vehicle manufacturer
* provide adequate clearance between tyre and bodywork
Modifications to the suspension which is the fitment of stiffer springs and lowering kits, should be only be done where the car’s road handling will not be compromised. This work must be carried out by a competent engineer.
Modifications to your car’s brakes must at all times be carried out by a competent engineer. Before parting with your money, seek advice from independent suppliers and the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that the brakes you intend fitting are approved and will not involve any major modification of existing mounting points.
Number plates must:
* comply with current legislation
* be displayed in a prominent position
* not be misleading
All exhaust silencers must be maintained in a good and efficient working order. You will be breaking the law if you remove a silencer or make any modification that would make that vehicle emit a noise louder than the original exhaust before it was modified.
To read more about the above car modifications you can download a copy of the ‘Modified Cars – what you need to know’ leaflet or you can contact Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) directly.
A modification can be a great way to personalise your car, and even improve its performance – there is a downside though, it can quickly bump up the cost of your car insurance.
While many of us don’t go as far as ‘Pimp Your Ride’ in the changes we make to our vehicles, it’s still important to consider a potential downside – namely, that vehicle modifications can increase the cost of your car insurance.
Even if you’re not looking to ‘pimp’ your ride, you may find just a slight modification is enough to push up the price of cover.
How do modifications change the price you pay for car insurance?
Insurance is based upon risk, and when quoting for cover insurers use a number of factors before arriving at a price.
Car modifications can seriously affect how insurers assess your car insurance policy in two key areas:
* Risk of Accident – Modifications that change the look and performance of your vehicle are assessed by insurers to be a higher accident risk. These include engine changes, sports seats, body-kits, spoilers, etc.
* Risk of Theft – Some modifications, such as phone kits or performance modifications, also increase the chance that your vehicle is broken into or stolen.
In general, many of the performance and aesthetic changes made to vehicles will increase the cost of cover. Interestingly, insurers even rate specialist paint and decals as a higher risk, and ‘go faster stripes’ and rally numbers are cause for concern when considering the cost of cover.
On the other hand, performance and aesthetic changes such as tinted windows and alloy wheels are both more commonplace and considered low risk.
There are some functional car modifications, such as aftermarket fitted satnavs and phone kits, can also increase insurance costs because they are considered a high theft risk, whereas others can reduce premiums. For example, parking sensors mean you are less likely to have a prang when reversing, while having a tow bar means that when hooked-up you are spending more time driving at a moderate pace.
Advice on insuring a modified car
So you’ve modified your car and you’re looking to insure it, here are some practical tips on what to consider:
* Always tell insurers about modifications made to your car, as not declaring could invalidate your policy. When you run quotes with MoneySuperMarekt you’ll be asked about modifications on the application screen – make sure you don’t leave anything out.
* If you’re changing your car from the factory specification, always tell your insurer at the time you make a change. Different insurers have a different view on what constitutes a modification, so it is always best to check whether your insurance policy is impacted.
* When renewing insurance for a modified car, always run a number of quotes as this could be an easy way to save money. Each insurer has a different view on risk, so comparison is a good way to find the cheapest.