Why You Should Think Twice Before Modifying Your Car

Why You Should Think Twice Before Modifying Your Car

A resident of Jammu and Kashmir reportedly located himself on the improper side of the regulation for modifying his Mahindra Thar and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. The modifications he is claimed to have manufactured to his car or truck consist of a tough top, even bigger wheel and tyres as properly as a large auto siren. It is as a result essential to examine to what extent a client can make modifications to his vehicle. This is important because making modifications may invite legal proceedings.

Buyers are forced to make alterations simply because producers distribute features across distinctive variants which may be out of their achieve whilst in the beginning obtaining the car or truck. For example, a foundation variant of a car may perhaps have more compact tyres than the greater variant or could not have a touchscreen method which has the function of Apple CarPlay and Android Car which are arguably needed in 2022. So, a shopper who simply cannot afford the best variant may perhaps buy the lessen variant and later on, as cash gets to be out there goes and provides these characteristics to his vehicle. Possibly this is why automakers like BMW have come to a decision to change to a membership design which involves them inputting the necessary components required and generating it membership centered, so you can invest in the car but activate other characteristics later on.

Add-ons not exceeding two percent of the vehicle’s fat specified in the certificate of registration are permissible in India. Nonetheless, alterations which modify the standard construction of the automobile so as to alter its basic options have been built unlawful in India by virtue of Section 52 of the Motor Automobiles Act of 1988 which was afterwards amended in 2000 and all over again a short while ago in 2019.

This posting seeks to examine the scope and ambit of Section 52 of the Motor Automobiles Act and the permissible limitations of automobile alteration in India.

An evaluation of the components of Segment 52 of the Motor Motor vehicles Act, 1988 informs us that:

  • No owner of a motor automobile can change the car at variance with the particulars contained in the certificate of registration specified by the manufacturer.
  • The motor or any component of it can be modified or adjusted to ensure that it is operate by a unique gas or battery or liquified petroleum gas or any other resource of power by fitting a conversion package. The Central Governing administration can prescribe requirements, situations, conditions of acceptance, retro fitment and other connected matters for this sort of conversion kits and the modifications have to comply with these disorders.
  • The Central Government can prescribe specs, problems for acceptance, retrofitment and other related issues for the alteration of motor vehicles and in such scenario, the warranty granted by the company will not be considered void for the needs of these types of alteration or retrofitment.
  • A particular person can acquire subsequent acceptance of the registering authority for alterations and convert his car into an adapted auto which must comply with the situations prescribed by the central authorities.
  • Alterations made with no prior approval of the registering authority will have to be introduced to its see within just fourteen days of making the alteration. The certification of registration together with price has to be supplied.
  • The Central Governing administration can exempt alterations of motor vehicles in a way in any other case than the specified way for any precise goal.
  • If an alteration has been manufactured devoid of the prior approval of the RTO, then the operator of the car or truck should report the alteration to the RTO in just 14 days of creating the alteration together with the certification of registration and the approved price.

An alteration is discussed in the Area as this means a transform in the structure of the auto ensuing in a transform in its essential attribute.

The punishment for alterations is observed in Section 182-A of the Act. According to Segment 182-A(1) if a producer, importer or dealer  makes or presents to alterations which violate chapter VII of the Act or rules and regulations the punishment will be a greatest of one yr in jail or with a fantastic of a person lakh rupees for every the car or truck or both of those.

More, Section 182-A(4) presents that house owners altering their cars, like by way of retrofitting motor vehicle elements in an impermissible way faces up to 6 months in jail or with a wonderful of up to Rs 5,000 per such alteration or  with both equally. Thus, it is not only the proprietor of a motor vehicle who faces liability but even a company or dealer.

A two-decide bench of the Supreme Court docket of India dealt with the interpretation of Segment 52 of the Act of 1988 and examined the extent of permissible alterations in the situation of Regional Transport Officer v K Jayachandra (2019). The type of alterations which were being being examined concerned modifications to the chassis of the vehicle, thus really modifying the composition of the automobile.

In its examination of the provisions of the Act, the court took notice of the objects and factors of the modification designed to the provision by Parliament in 2000, in accordance to which alterations built were vital to make certain the basic safety of road end users by prohibiting alterations of any kind including alter of tyres of bigger capability.

The crux of the judgment is that although the RTO does not will need to be burdened for each and every small alteration such as fitting components, if there is any transform in the structure which will be regarded as altering its “basic structure” and is at variance with the particulars of registration then these alterations are illegal.  The maximize in tyre sizing has sought to be produced illegal in watch of basic safety fears by the legislature and this has been recognised and affirmed by the Supreme Court docket.

Even so, just after this judgment, in the exact calendar year, the Kerala large courtroom experienced celebration to deal with an individual who produced an software for changing a Force Traveller ambulance into a Hearse Ambulance in Jeffin Abraham v Joint Regional Transport Officer (2019). When the application was rejected, a number of structural alterations have been made to the van arrived to mild. Though dealing with this, the court docket had occasion to interpret Section 52 of the Motor Autos Act. The courtroom also observed that the Ministry of Highway and Highway’s has issued a clarificatory conversation in watch of the judgment of the Supreme Court.

In essence what the ministry mentioned is that modifications can not be created to the certificate of registration other than to the extent of the entries designed in the very same as per the requirements of the producer. The most important clarification for our uses is:

“A motor motor vehicle, modified by incorporating optional parts offered by its producer or in any other case modified so that it continues to comply with the manufacturer’s specifications, may well not have to have even more certification. In the reported interaction, the Ministry has recommended that the modifications that can be carried out by the car or truck proprietor and would not entail even more certifications are:

(a) Alternative of sections or elements by equivalent parts or components.

(b) Substitution pieces or factors with elements or factors with equivalent practical efficiency.

(c) Optional sections or parts as approved by the vehicle’s manufacturer.”

This clarification produces a problem whereby a shopper who buys a car and boosts its tyre measurement by getting from focused tyre store will violate the regulation, whilst a shopper who goes to the supplier, who is in essence an extension of the producer may perhaps not. In the same way, a client who buys LED tail lights from a 3rd get together as an alternative of the vendor will also be liable underneath the law. This distinction which has been established is perverse considering the fact that the item of the 2000 amendment was ostensibly a security issue. A lot of brands or sellers offer you tyre upsizing either as extras or updates. If Area 182-A (1) bars a producer or dealer from making alterations which violate the Act and its regulations and the intendment of the 2000 laws was in opposition to tyre upsizing, then we must inquire ourselves whether or not these can in simple fact be supplied lawfully as components or upgrades.

There is also ambiguity as to what “continues to comply with the manufacturer’s specifications” suggests. Quite a few customers make alterations this kind of as transforming the headlights to greater quality, some improve the tail lights these are 3rd social gathering add-ons. Even further it can be argued that headlight and tail lights are ‘basic features’ of the cars even while there is no structural change in the motor vehicle. Strain horns being set up are reportedly top to high-priced fines currently being issued by the site visitors law enforcement, but what if the purchaser purchases the horn which is a real accessory offered by the company?

Due to the fact the improve in tyre dimension uncovered unfavourable mention not only in the objects and reasons for the 2000 amendment but a judgment of the Supreme Courtroom and Kerala high courtroom, the argument that as extended as a purchaser chooses a higher tyre size which is specified by the maker, it is permissible would not keep significantly water. Even further utilizing the term “may” produces further confusion as it is not necessary that compliance with the disorders of the interaction would call for no registration.

In see of these judgments, it will be practical to analyze what variety of modifications are getting presently supplied by 3rd party retailers in the current market:

  • Tyres
  • Clutch overhaul
  • Eu/ TCU Tuning
  • Suspension
  • Brake upgrades.
  • Customised exhaust programs
  • Exterior customisation
  • Automation and hydraulics.

These are just some of the publicly out there modifications of which all of which slide foul of Portion 52 of the Act as they would adjust the automobile from what was designed by the company and specified in the certification of registration. These modifications arguably alter the primary functions of the automobile. Additional, in situation a client wishes to make these modifications he will mandatorily have to tell and find consent of the jurisdictional RTO.

In see of the over allow us analyze some illustrative predicaments which may possibly arise when a customer wishes to make some modifications to his motor vehicle:

1. A purchaser buys a automobile and does not like the seat handles. There are no aspect and curtain airbags: The change of seat handles will not consequence in any modify to the construction or simple features of the car and thus is appropriate.

2. A consumer buys a reduced variant of a automobile which comes with 15-inch tyres. The higher variant of the motor vehicle will come with 17-inch tyres. The consumer can method the authorised supplier for upsizing the tyres, even so upsizing the tyres outside the purview of the manufacturer is a grey area in check out of the judgments of the courts and the clarification of the Ministry. There will be no issue in upgrading to a greater makes tyre which are the very same sizing as the tyres the car or truck came with. This is simply because the tyre measurement and technical specs has to be delivered by the producer when furnishing details to the registering authority.

3. The shopper goes to a effectiveness improvement company and enhance the horsepower of the motor and alterations the tune of the motor or modifies the brakes or suspension of the car or truck. This is illegal and impermissible because it would be at variance with the particulars furnished by the maker whilst registering the automobile which consists of the electricity output of the motor.

4. A buyer modifications the stock headlights and tail lights by approaching a third party. He replaces the kinds initially supplied by the company. For occasion, the shopper installs projector headlights which are not provided by the producer on any variant of the motor vehicle. This is all over again a grey space, since if there is no change in wiring and the merchandise is plug and perform and only improves the vehicle and does not violate any provisions of the motor automobile Act, this should really fall in the definition of an accessory and should be permissible. On the other hand, as noticed in the situation of the Thar owner in Jammu and Kashmir, LED tail lights ended up not spared.

5. A buyer buys a reduce stop variant of a car or truck and later on installs a touchscreen method which has wireless Apple Carplay and Android Automobile. This will be an accent and will not require registration.

6. A buyer wishes to change the color of the paint in his auto. He will have to request acceptance from the RTO for this as it will be at variance with the certificate of registration.

7. A purchaser would like to make alterations to the body of the car by setting up human body kits, and modifying the visual appearance of the bumpers. This is impermissible and if this sort of alterations are sought to be produced, approval of the RTO have to be sought.

The serious trouble is with alterations which make the vehicle unsafe and place other folks at risk this sort of as large metal bumper guards which have been produced unlawful. There is also a authentic desire of the maker and dealer to assure quality control and the security of its vehicles for that reason, 3rd social gathering equipment can complicate issues and modifications or alterations created to the vehicle exterior the dealership usually void the warranty which comes with the vehicles. For example, transforming the wiring in a car or truck can cause a brief circuit and result in a fireplace. Modifications such as those made to let differently abled persons for driving have in several situations essential them to seek permission for altering their auto, these are made a decision on a circumstance-to-circumstance basis.

The impact of the clarificatory interaction of the Ministry of Highway and Transportation is that as extensive as you fit genuine equipment or fitments presented by the company, of which an authorised seller is an extension, there really should be no issue and you could not will need to get your alteration registered. This will put a customer who goes to a 3rd social gathering or unbiased store for fitments or specified components at a disadvantage because irrespective of whether or not his fitments and equipment conform to what is prescribed by the company will be up for interpretation of the authorities. Even more just after the amendment in 2019 if the Central Federal government approves sure alterations/ fitments then the very same will not void the producers guarantee.

It would as a result stand to cause that if the specifications of the producer are not tampered or interfered with, then it should not entail a violation of Part 52 of the Act and accompanying procedures. The cumulative outcome is that third celebration components or fitments are viewed with a lens of suspicion as opposed to what is available by the maker or its authorised dealer which are generally much more expensive and out of attain of a lot of individuals.

In conclusion, modifications which do not pose security hazards ought to be permissible third-celebration accessory or fitments must not be banned in totality but examined on a circumstance-circumstance basis to see whether the alteration made is a protection hazard. The alterations the Supreme Court docket of India and the Kerala superior court docket ended up concerned with were extra to do with structural modifications. As a result, the word “basic features” has to be read with structural modifications and not independently, and for that reason equipment which have been expressly exempted by the legislation can be modified devoid of seeking registration. The preference given to makers and their sellers by, in a feeling, exempting their extras or modifications from the rigours of the legislation as opposed to 3rd social gathering accessory stores requirements reconsideration and modifications to a auto ought to not make any difference as prolonged as they do not represent a safety hazard.

It would be advantageous for people if the Union government provides clarity of which equipment are exempted and permissible by way of a list. This would also advise consumers of which equipment will not void the brands guarantee. The endeavour have to be to close any ambiguity surrounding modifications or alterations in cars thinking of it involves time in jail which can prolong up to 6 months for the operator of the automobile.

Raghav Tankha is a lawyer practising in Delhi. Sights are particular.