Photo credit: Nikoleta Antonak, @nikitafu
A common question, but one you may not have a clear answer to: what vehicle modifications are illegal in Alberta? The answer can be found in the Traffic Safety Act, but keep in mind that many modifications that may be legal on the road might not sit well with your insurance provider.
Modifications include any changes made to the original manufactured design of a vehicle. If you change your vehicle from factory specifications, you may run the risk of affecting your insurance. This is especially true with powertrain and performance modifications.
Vehicles may be modified to change their appearance or improve performance; however, modifications must comply with Alberta’s regulations in order for them to be road legal. As well, make sure to check with your insurance provider before making any modifications to ensure that your vehicle insurance will still be valid. It is also a requirement under the SAF1 (owned automobile) insurance application form to declare all vehicle modifications when applying for auto insurance.
Common Modifications that are illegal in Alberta:
Tinted windows and Window glazing
- A person shall not install, replace or cover the window glazing in a windshield or in a left or right side window of a vehicle that is beside or forward of the driver with a transparent, translucent or opaque material.
- A person shall not install, replace or cover the rear window glazing in a vehicle with a transparent, translucent or opaque material unless the motor vehicle has outside rear-view mirrors on both the left and right.
Tinting the windows in your car affects how the glass could break if you are involved in a collision. It also decreases a driver’s depth perception and vision.
- The light from a headlamp must be white, and the lens and bulb of the headlamp must be made of clear, untinted glazing.
- A person shall not attach or apply anything that colours the light from a headlamp or a bulb in the headlamps.
- Tinting of the headlights and the rear taillights is illegal. Any colour other than the colour specified for that specific location is in violation of the regulations.
Modifying the colour of your lights can cause confusion and distractions to other drivers and they can be confused with the coloured lights that are used on emergency vehicles.
- A motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine must have an exhaust muffler that cools and expels the exhaust gases from the engine without excessive noise and without producing flames or sparks.
- A person shall not drive or operate a motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine if the exhaust outlet of the muffler has been widened.
- A person shall not drive or operate a motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine if a device is attached to the exhaust system or the muffler that increases the noise made by the expulsion of gases from the engine.
Beyond the regulations above, a vehicle with a modified exhaust may also produce noise in violation of municipal bylaws.
- Your license plate must not be covered or blocked. It must not have a cover over it, including one that is clear or smoked.
If you are looking into a customized license plate for your vehicle, read about what types are rejected in Alberta in our blog post here.
A full list of regulations can be found in the Traffic Safety Act through the Alberta Queen’s Printer.
Even though modifications can make your vehicle look better in appearance, amplify its sound, or increase its performance, breaching equipment regulations can result in fines against you. After adding customization to your vehicle, insurers might find it to have increased risk and be more susceptible to an accident. If the modifications increase your vehicle’s value, then you could be more vulnerable to theft. Most automakers have a performance division for official modifications. When parts or modifications are obtained directly from the manufacturer, it is more likely to be accepted by insurers.
Be sure to always disclose any changes you wish to make to the original manufacturing specifications of your car to your insurance provider, and if you have any questions, speak to one of the experts at Fuse Insurance.
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