Sleek lines, great looks and improved car performance are what dreams are made of for every car enthusiast out there. You can achieve all that and more through car tuning and drive the car you’ve always fantasised about. But tuning your car is not like you’ve seen it in the movies. You can’t just take your vehicle to the first auto shop you come across, tell the mechanic what changes you want them to make, and then skip forward to the next scene where you drive off in a jaw-dropping car that looks nothing like the one you brought in.
We don’t want to burst your bubble or kill your car tuning dreams, but back in the real world, things are a little more complicated than that. Like any other country in the world, the UK has specific laws and regulations when it comes to car tuning. Customizing your car might sound like an exciting and fun thing to do, but it’s also something you have to approach with care. Certain car alterations are illegal in the UK, so modifying your car without knowing the rules and what it implies can get you in trouble.
If you want to find out what car tuning is all about and what aspects you have to take into consideration when tuning your car in the UK, you’ll find all the information you need in this article. So, read on and drive safe.
What is car tuning?
Car tuning or car modification consists of any change made to a car in order to optimise performance or improve appearance, altering its original specifications. There’s a variety of modifications one can make to a vehicle, but the most common ones target enhancing engine performance, ensuring smoother response or changing car aesthetics.
There’s a big difference between car repair and car tuning, as the first refers to replacing a faulty part in a car with an identical one or fixing the damaged part, whereas the second implies adding or replacing car parts with different ones with the sole purpose of enhancing performance and/or appearance.
The car tuning market is currently thriving in the UK, with companies such as Cooksport providing a wide range of performance car parts, car tuning services and bespoke solutions for all car lovers who want to customize their rides.
Different types of car tuning
If we were to break down car modifications into different categories, we would have to types of car tuning:
- Cosmetic car tuning – it implies alterations made to a car to improve its appearance. Some of the most common changes that focus on car appearance include tinted windows, specialised paint work, dashboard customisation, LED lighting, wheel accessories etc. With cosmetic car tuning you can make your car look (almost) anyway you want and add some character and personality to it.
- Performance car tuning – as the name implies, performance car tuning is all about making your car perform better, whether that means improving speed, response, power, or fuel efficiency. While these modifications won’t change how your car looks on the outside, you’re going to feel the difference when you get behind the wheel.
Illegal car modifications in the UK
When it comes to car tuning in the UK, there’s one sensitive aspect that needs to be addressed – knowing which car modifications are legal and which are not. As you can assume, you can’t just alter your car’s appearance and functionality as you please. There are rules and laws you have to take into consideration before you make any changes to a vehicle. So, here are the modifications you should cross off your car tuning list:
- Neon lights – it’s illegal to add neon lights to your car, unless you place them on the bottom of the car, out of sight, and they’re dim enough so they won’t bother other drivers.
- Rear and headlight tints – the only accepted colours are white and yellow for the headlights and red for the tail lights.
- Window tints – you can tint your windows as long as you make sure the front windscreen is at least 75% tint-free and the side windows are 70% tint-free.
- Loud exhausts – keep that exhaust noise under 74 decibels and you’ll be fine.
- Spoiler upgrades – while spoiler modifications are generally accepted, you have to pay attention to the method of modification. Spoilers have to be properly fastened, with no sharp edges in sight and they have to be correctly sized to avoid legal issues.
- Nitrous Oxide engine modification – engine modifications that involve the use of Nitrous Oxide are both illegal and unsafe. Adding Nitrous Oxide gas can improve engine performance, but because of the potential risks it involves, these modifications are completely prohibited by law.
Car tuning and insurance
A lot of people ignore the fact that any change they make to their cars, whether it’s for looks or performance, can have an impact on their insurance. Even the smallest modifications can have some kind of impact on car insurance costs, so you have to keep that in mind when tuning your car.
No matter the scale of the modification you’re planning to make, it’s important to contact your insurer and let them know about it. You might have to pay a higher premium for it, but it’s better than dealing with an invalid insurance when you or someone else files a claim. In some cases, car tuning can even lower the cost of your insurance, so you have more than enough reasons to consult with your insurance provider in advance.
Tune your car the smart way
If you want to make a few modifications to your car or give it a complete makeover, here are some tips to keep in mind before you start the tuning process:
- Inquire about the legality of the modifications you’re planning to make
- Consult with your insurance provider to find out how the changes will affect your insurance costs
- Always choose a professional auto tuning company to get the work done
- Find out if the changes are reversible or not
- Learn about the risks that the modifications might involve