9 Illegal Car Modifications In California (Updated For 2022)

You have to follow many rules and laws for a specific place if you are currently residing in California or you might be planning to move into the state. And you have to obey these laws, and you also have to ensure that the modifications you will do on your vehicle are legal in every state, specifically in California. 

It is also challenging to go outside every day and not see one vehicle that has not received any modifications in the automotive aftermarket world. Modifications of the vehicle are standard and it is usual. However, it does not mean that all of them are legal. 

In the aftermarket industry that has been evolving through the years now, specific modifications have begun skirting the state and federal laws of the US. Some measures were taken up to curtail a lot of these modifications. But unfortunately, some have become illegal in some states, and others have become illegal. 

And so, if you’re planning to install a cold air intake or strap-on lightbars on your vehicle, you have to consider if such modifications are legal and illegal in your state. 

So without further ado, let us learn more about this. Let us start.

Illegal Car Modifications In California

Illegal Car Mods In California

If you consider yourself a self-identified auto enthusiast, you might have a significant impact on vehicle modifications. But unfortunately, most sought car modifications are illegal in many cities, especially in California. So here are the vehicle modifications that are illegal in California.

1. Modification Of Your Exhaust

There is an illegal modification on the exhaust of your vehicle. You might want to remove the mufflers or silencers to silence your vehicle presence, but you are prohibited from modifying your exhaust in California. You can be fined right on the spot, and it will increase the probability of a trip to the bureau of automotive repair.

2. Installation Of Window Tint That Is Very Dark

It is illegal to install a very dark window tint. A dark luxury window is a sought-after modification for your vehicle. But it is a dangerous change. 

It can affect your visibility and can put you to harm. According to the laws of1010, the windshield and front windows will need a visible light transmittance or VLT of at least seventy percent.

3. Application Of Red, Blue, Or Amber Window Tint

Applying a red, blue, or amb window tint is not legal. A black vehicle with a red window tint might look good, but it is not permitted. 

This limitation is applied in combination with the seventy percent VLT requirement. And this is the reason why you cannot find any auto glass specialist who agrees with your vehicle windows.

4. Much Too Bright Underflow

An underflow light might look good, but it can be too bright. For example, it can emit a diffused and non glaring light of 0.05 candela per square inch of an area. And if the vehicle’s neon underflow is too bright, you will not be allowed to drive on it. 

5. Installation Of Red Lights On The Front

If you are planning to do some modifications to your grille or you want to enhance your underglow neon lights, you have to make sure that you are not adding a crimson light to the front. This is because the red light is in front of your vehicle.

6. Additional TV Screen On The Side Of The Driver

California law does not allow you to place a TV screen in direct view of the driver. This is a technical requirement. 

7. Increasing The Vehicle Height Over The Certain Limits

You must be aware that the maximum frame eight you have to achieve for a passenger vehicle is 27 hours. This can be changed on the gross weight of the vehicle.

8. Making Engine Modification

To improve the air quality in California, they control any engine modification to regulate the emissions. So if you do an engine modification, it will improve the engine’s performance.

9. Hanging Items From The Rearview Mirror

Any minor modifications that will obstruct your road view cause alarm. It is also distracting if you have a dangling air freshener in your rearview mirror.

Is All Car Modding Illegal In California?

Not all car modifications are illegal in California. Unfortunately, there are several illegal modifications in California. 

However, not all modifications are illegal. Therefore, you have to learn which are legal and which are illegal. 


In summary, there are people residing in California and people still planning to move into California. And these people are curious about the illegal modifications on every vehicle. 

There are many illegal vehicle modifications that you can do to your vehicle. It would help if you avoided these modifications.



Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more