14th Nov, 2019
Car modifications are nothing new – most of us have encountered souped-up versions of common consumer vehicles while out on British roads. For some people, those sorts of encounters are enough to tempt them into making their own modifications to their personal cars. If you’re ever that way inclined, though, there are a couple of things you should know first. The consequences of an ill-judged car modification can be severe, ranging from hefty fines to devastating collisions that could even end up prematurely scrapping your car!
Basically a car modification is something that changes the appearance or ability of your car, altering it from its original factory condition. There’s an almost endless list of the sorts of modifications that can be made to your car. To name just a few:
Those are just to name a few! Some people like to make modifications to their cars as part of a hobbyist car club or syndicate, whereas others do it as a way of improving their own personal driving experience. However, even the simplest car modifications are rarely straightforward, as they can bring up a lot of practical and legal obstacles.
Some of the issues with certain car modifications are somewhat obvious, but others can create issues that aren’t quite so easy to foresee. It’s worth being aware that whatever kind of modification you make to your car, it’s almost certainly going to increase your insurance. Here are some of the biggest problems you might find:
They affect your fuel economy
Any increase to the size of your wheels is probably going to bring an associated drop in fuel economy, raising your costs. This is similarly true of wide-bore or sports exhausts – it may give you that booming sound some people find satisfying, but in any case it’ll likely make a dent in your car’s actual performance.
They impact your ride and handling
Bigger wheels won’t necessarily make your car more manoeuvrable, and you might find you suddenly struggle to properly make corners or navigate on UK roads. Sometimes big wheels are fitted with low profile tyres, which can make you even more vulnerable to punctures and similar types of damage.
They increase noise and emissions levels
If you live in a big town or city, you may well have heard the rumble and boom of a wide-bore exhaust down residential roads late at night. It may be satisfying for the driver, but it’s hugely irritating for everyone else – which is why the authorities have strict noise limits in place for vehicles. If a modification exceeds these limits, it automatically disqualifies the car from UK roads. Similarly, wide bore exhausts can lead to an increase in emissions which means an automatic MOT fail.
They can cause you security issues
Upgraded stereos and similarly tempting electronics can make your car vastly more attractive to thieves, especially if they’re clear to see from a distance. Drivers who modify their cars don’t always invest in the security they need to protect these modifications, which can lead to some hugely nasty surprises – such as a newly empty parking space. On another note, it’s also worth remembering that these sorts of installations can cause problems with your existing electrical systems, too.
How do modifications affect insurance?
Even if your car modifications are legal, it’s almost certain to cause complications with your insurer – namely by making your policy more expensive. Insurers tend to define car modifications as an additional risk factor in policies, and on the whole will judge them to make the vehicle in question more unsafe. Most of the reasons we’ve already outlined factor into this judgement – increased attention from thieves leads to a higher risk, whereas botched DIY jobs by enthusiastic amateurs can make it highly dangerous to drive. Performance-enhancing mods like engine alterations can make it easier for the driver to lose control, leading to more severe crashes. Meanwhile, replacing specialist parts can be far more difficult and expensive. And all that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
The law is also a bit complicated on car modifications. Many of them are legal with strict conditions attached, whereas others are outright illegal. The penalties can range in severity, from £50 fines to long-term disqualifications. Even for relatively simple modifications, it’s always worth doing your research!
Whether you opt to modify your vehicle or not, though, there’s one universal truth – there will come a day when you’ll decide to scrap your car. When that day comes, at Scrap Car Network we’re here to help. Just fill in your car reg and postcode to the fields on our homepage, and we’ll waste no time in giving you an instant online quote!