California Car Modifications

Sage Champion, Staff Writer

Car clubs, car meets, and modifying your own car has been a popular American pastime. It’s a whole car culture that’s been going on for years now, and in California, you see some of the rarest, fastest, and coolest cars in all of the U.S. Sadly, 90% of them are illegal and any highway patrolman or any city policeman can force you to pop your hood and potentially give you a ticket for thousands of dollars if you don’t remove all the modifications.


The laws about car modification differ from state to state, and even though California is known for its twisty roads, scenic roadways, and expensive cars;  almost all car modifications are illegal in California. Not just performance mods are illegal either, you can’t have tints darker than 70% in the front, your headlights and fog light must be white, you can’t have any exterior lights on the vehicle, and worst of all, you aren’t allowed to modify the exhaust system at all.


One of my coworkers has done some modifications to his car and hasn’t had a problem with the authorities just yet. “Even my yellow fog lights are illegal,” he said, “if I get pulled over and they decide to have me pop my hood and give me a ticket, not only would I have to take everything off the car but I might also even need to pay a thousand dollar ticket,” he said. Even though the modifications he has on his car would pass a smog check–except for the visual inspection– it’s all up to if a police officer. If he feels like giving you a ticket for it, he can. This just causes stress for everyone with slight mods on their own car whenever they drive down the road.


Basically, the car modification laws in California are for the state to make money by making aftermarket manufacturers pay to get carb certification (California air and resource board). Even if it would be completely ok in any other state, and would even pass a smog check. California’s car modification laws need to be changed so car owners have the freedom to do what they want with what they pay for.