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Understanding Car Modification Rules

Updated On Oct 15, 2023

Understanding Car Modification Rules - Customise with Confidence

The word "modification" in terms of cars can be a great cause for thrills. Car modification is a booming industry in India. Most enthusiasts will do anything to make their prized cars stand out of the crowd. If you're reading this blog, chances are high that you're all set to modify your car too! 

However, before you start selecting the designs you want, you must learn about the car modification rules in India. This is because making excessive changes could get you in hot water with the authorities. So, with that in mind, let’s go over everything you need to know about car modifications and their rules. 

What is a modified car?

Any vehicle that has been altered from its original manufacturing specs is referred to as a "modified car" in general. These modifications might be as easy as painting the car a different colour, swapping out the tyres for ones of a different brand or size, or going as intricate as adjusting the engine to perform better.

Modifications can be broadly classified into two categories:

  • Cosmetic Modifications: These alterations primarily change the aesthetic appeal of the car without significantly impacting its performance or functionality. Examples include new paint jobs, vinyl wraps, custom lights, and the installation of body kits that alter the vehicle's appearance.
  • Performance Modifications: These are focused on improving the car's driving dynamics and overall performance. They involve changes made to the engine, suspension, exhaust system, or brakes to enhance speed, handling, or fuel efficiency.

Owners modify their cars for various reasons, including to showcase their unique style, to improve the vehicle's performance, or to make it more comfortable or technologically advanced. Whatever the reason may be, it’s crucial for car owners to understand the legal boundaries within which modifications must occur to avoid penalties or the cancellation of their vehicle's registration.

Understanding Car Modification Rules

What are the types of car modifications?

Car modifications are a unique way for individuals to express their personalities through their vehicles, making each car distinct and a reflection of its owner. Here, we'll explore the primary types of car modifications available to vehicle owners in India.

1. Exterior Modifications

Exterior modifications are one of the most common and visible forms of customization. These changes are made to the outer part of the vehicle, affecting its aesthetic appeal. Examples of exterior modifications include:

  1. Paint Jobs & Vinyl Wraps: Unique paint colours, matte finishes, or vinyl wraps allow owners to alter their car's colour, creating a personalised look.
  2. Alloy Wheels & Tyres: Upgraded wheels and tyres not only enhance the vehicle's appearance but also potentially improve its handling and performance.
  3. Body Kits & Spoilers: These components can transform a vehicle's look, making it appear sportier and more aerodynamic.
  4. LED Lights: Custom lights, including headlights, taillights, and underglow kits, add a unique flair to the vehicle.

2. Interior Modifications

Interior modifications aim to increase comfort, convenience, or the aesthetic appeal of the vehicle's cabin. Some popular interior modifications are:

  1. Upholstery Changes: Owners often upgrade to premium materials like leather or custom fabrics for seats and interior trims.
  2. Tech Upgrades: Installing advanced infotainment systems, GPS navigation, reverse cameras, or upgraded speaker systems enhances the driving experience.
  3. Custom Dashboard: A redesigned dashboard can offer a fresh, new look to the car’s interior.
  4. Additional Accessories: This could be ambient lighting, seat covers, steering wheel covers, or other elements that improve comfort and aesthetics.

3. Modifications that Change Performance

For those looking for improved performance and driving dynamics, there are modifications available that impact how the vehicle runs and handles:

  1. Engine Tuning: This can optimise the car's performance, improve fuel efficiency, or increase horsepower and torque.
  2. Exhaust System Upgrades: Aftermarket exhaust systems can enhance performance and give the vehicle a distinct sound.
  3. Suspension Modifications: Adjusting or replacing suspension components can improve handling, ride comfort, or lower the vehicle for a sportier stance.
  4. Brake Upgrades: Performance brakes provide better stopping power, essential for high-speed driving or racing scenarios.

Before diving into the world of car modifications, vehicle owners should be well aware of the local laws and regulations regarding these changes, as some modifications might not be street-legal or could void the vehicle's warranty. Always proceed with caution and consult professionals for advice and assistance.

Car Modification Rules in India

Navigating through the car modification rules in India is crucial for every vehicle owner contemplating customisation. Here’s an overview of the significant rules you need to follow:

  • Legal Approvals: Some modifications require approval from the Regional Transport Office (RTO). Without the necessary permissions, your vehicle could be deemed illegal.
  • Safety Standards: All modifications must adhere to the safety standards set by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). Any alteration compromising safety is strictly prohibited.
  • Emission Norms: Modifications should not cause the vehicle to violate established emission norms. Any alteration leading to increased pollution is illegal.
  • Structural Changes: Modifications involving structural changes to the vehicle chassis or body need special approval from the RTO.
  • Colour Changes: If you decide to change the colour of your vehicle, it must be updated on your registration certificate.
  • Silencers and Horns: Loud exhausts and horns are against the law as they contribute to noise pollution. Always check the legal noise limits before making alterations.

How Do Modifications Affect Car Insurance?

Car modifications can significantly influence your car insurance policy:

  • Premium Changes: Insurance companies might increase premiums for modified vehicles due to the perceived increase in risk.
  • Policy Void: Some modifications, especially those illegal or not approved, could lead your insurance provider to void your policy.
  • Claim Rejection: In case of illegal modifications, insurers may refuse to honour claims, even if the modification wasn’t the cause of the accident.
  • Disclosure Requirement: You are required to inform your insurer about any modifications made to your vehicle, failing which can result in claim rejection.
  • Special Insurance: Some insurance companies offer specialised policies for modified vehicles, covering the added components and features.

Before proceeding with modifications, engage in a detailed discussion with your insurance provider about how each change will impact your policy and premium. Understanding the insurance implications beforehand will help you make informed decisions and safeguard against future complications.

Always undertake modifications responsibly, with a thorough understanding of the legal and insurance implications to enjoy a smooth, hassle-free driving experience.

Modifications That Do Not Affect Car Insurance

Not all modifications result in changes to your car insurance premium or coverage. Here are some common alterations that usually don’t influence your insurance:

  • Cosmetic Changes: Modifications like vinyl wraps, decals, or new paint jobs typically do not affect insurance as they don’t alter the vehicle’s performance or safety features.
  • Interior Upgrades: Improvements such as new upholstery, upgraded stereo systems, or the addition of infotainment screens often have no bearing on insurance policies.
  • Wheel Changes: Swapping out your wheels for aesthetic purposes is usually insurance-neutral, provided it doesn’t affect the car's performance or safety.
  • Roof Racks & Carriers: Adding storage solutions like roof racks or carriers is generally acceptable since these don’t impact the car's inherent safety or performance.
  • Replacement Parts: Using OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts for repairs or replacements usually doesn’t influence insurance.

Final Thoughts

Modifying your car can be an exciting way to personalise it, making it truly yours. However, it’s imperative to understand the rules governing car modifications in India and how these changes might affect your insurance policy. While some upgrades are considered safe and legal, others might not only result in policy alterations but also lead to legal complications.

Before you start with the modification process, do thorough research and, if necessary, consult with professionals who understand the legalities and insurance implications involved. Being well-informed and cautious helps you avoid potential hurdles, ensuring that your modified vehicle is not just a joy to drive but also compliant with all regulatory and insurance norms.


  1. What authorised vehicle modifications are permitted in India?

Modifications that fall under the legal category include roof racks, interior renovations, and swapping out parts for original equipment. A comprehensive list of allowed modifications can always be obtained by contacting your local transportation department.

  1. Do all auto changes impact the cost of insurance?

No, only modifications that drastically raise the car's worth or change its performance or safety features can have an impact on insurance rates.

  1. Is window tinting permitted in cars?

According to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, vision through the side windows should be 50% and through the front and rear windows should be 70%. Deeper hues are prohibited.

  1. Is it possible to add nitrous oxide to my car?

No, because nitrous oxide kits drastically change a car's performance and can be harmful, installing them in an Indian vehicle is prohibited.

  1. Are unauthorised car modifications subject to penalties?

Indeed, depending on the seriousness of the offence, unlawful modifications may result in fines, having your car impounded, or even going to jail.

  1. Does insurance change if the car's paint colour is changed?

Although it's allowed to alter the colour of your paint, you should still notify your insurance company as the change may have an impact on the terms or prices of your coverage.

  1. Is it possible to modify the engine of my car to make it more powerful?

Unless approved by both the RTO and your insurer, any modifications that materially affect the vehicle's performance are frequently prohibited and may nullify your insurance coverage.

  1. Are loud car exhaust systems permitted?

Exhausts that are louder than the government-mandated permitted limit are prohibited. Fines may be imposed for modified exhaust systems that produce excessive noise.

  1. Do I have to notify my insurance company of little changes?

Any modification, no matter how small, should be reported to your insurance in order to prevent issues while making a claim.

  1. Can car changes be made without the RTO's approval?

Yes, in order to guarantee that the alterations adhere to the Motor Vehicles Act, the approval of the Regional Transport Office (RTO) is required for any significant adjustments.


This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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