20 Weird Car Features That Are Illegal In the U.S.

Car features have transformed a lot over the years. Once, safety belts and airbags were considered just optional equipment before become standard for every car. It’s gotten more attention over the years as mods have become more and more popular with car owners. They love to deck out cars with features from fancy lights to touches meant to enhance their engines and make them powerful racers. Some may be a bit annoying but others can work out correctly. However, many a modder best be careful as some of the features they love are banned by law.

Sure, a few states can look the other way and let folks off with a warning on some features. But others are seriously illegal in several states and federal levels as well. A car owner doesn’t grasp that a feature isn’t just annoying for other drivers but downright dangerous as well and thus no wonder they’re banned. A few fail to realize it until they’re pulled over and hit with a fine. Here are 20 odd car features many may not realize are illegal in the United States and an owner best be careful trying some out.

20 Flamethrower Exhaust


It should be no shock why this mod is illegal. Thanks to numerous TV shows and movies, car owners believe that a car literally shooting out fire looks awesome. Unless you’re driving the Batmobile, it doesn’t. More importantly, it’s a huge blow for the environment and a serious safety issue for other drivers. Cops and various states come down very hard on this as flamethrowers on a car that doesn’t belong to James Bond can land someone in trouble.

19 Extreme Suspension


This goes both ways as many car owners love to mod their cars for extreme suspensions. Some will have the body of the car pushed up by several feet to leave a huge gap between the body and undercarriage. Others will “slam” the bodies to be barely above touching the ground. In both cases, states have numerous laws demanding cars hold to a certain height both ways. Cars must be maintained at a proper level and breaking that can add up to a big ticket.

18 Removing Emissions


Too many car owners (especially the ones who love mods) think that environmental laws are merely light suggestions. The emissions are a key example as many owners will try to adjust their cars to pour out as much emission as possible which supposedly helps it perform better. This ignores how many states are very strict holding to EPA regulations on the amount of pollution a car puts out. Anyone who tries to remove the control device from a new car is liable for prosecution under federal laws.

17 Super Dark Tint


Most states are okay with cars doing a bit of a tint to cut down on the light and heat. They frown on places that attempt to put in some massive tinting for their windows. The general rules is that windows must allow 70% of light transmittance to enter the car so as not to blind the driver to any obstacles on the road. Too many mods go way too far to make the windows very dark which brings up obvious safety issues. It’s trickier to judge than other mods on this list yet trying to tint a window too much just invites trouble.

16 Straight Pipes


Mufflers and pipes are meant to be curved to help with the intake and output. It’s simple car mechanics but scores of owners think it can be altered somehow. However, a straight pipe causes issues with both the noise and the emission output which violate state laws on both levels. New York is very strict on cars having standard mufflers and pipes and will come down hard on straight pipes. Many other states follow suit so this is a mod that can land an owner in big trouble if used.

15 Colored LED Headlight Bulbs


Car owners just can’t leave well enough alone. It's not enough for headlights to just be one color, some owners need to have them in a rainbow of LED shades. Not only is this distracting to other drivers but if installed improperly, it can be difficult to control the beam and thus almost turn into a strobe. In both cases, Kentucky has outright banned these types of lights while other states have directives on the colors. Using LED lamps just adds to the problems of trying to make a car look better.

14 Nitrous Oxide


Contrary to what the Fast and Furious movies might tell you, adding nitrous oxide does not instantly transform any car into a monster speed machine. Many cars simply aren’t designed to handle this and states recognize this by outright banning them. Ohio is the most strict as one has to sign a paper buying nitro to state they will not use it in a car. Thus, if they're caught using it, it means a fine and even jail time. Sellers must also keep a record of buyers which makes it easier to find out who’s breaking the law here.

13 Plate Frames


This may seem odd as surely states can’t get too upset about a personalized license plate? One sees scores of plates that are amazing ever got passed by the DMV. So one would assume they’d be fine with personalized plates involving everything from favorite movies to comics and more. In reality, states dislike these because they can obscure key plate details like license numbers and codes. North Carolina outright bans them and other states have restrictions on how large they can be.

12 Rolling Coal


No one is sure why this mod has taken off and thankfully it’s not wide-spread. But it’s still annoying that some truck drivers think the best way to make their rides look cool is to spew out enough exhaust fumes to choke an elephant. Needless to say, the EPA are not fans of it and numerous states have enacted laws banning the feature and fining anyone who tries it. The only thin “rolling” here is how fast a coal truck owner can go to jail.

11 Remote Car Starters


This may sound like an odd thing to be illegal. Surely, there can’t be much harm in a remote control to get a car running, right? It’s especially useful on very cold days to warm the car up first before it’s driven. As it happens, in 31 states (California, New York, Illinois and Ohio are the top ones), it’s illegal to have your car idling with no one inside. It’s not just for safety but the environment as well. Thus, starting a car without a key may actually earn you a ticket.

10 Neon Lights


Blame the Fast and Furious movies for how this mod has suddenly become so popular. Thanks to the films, car owners assume putting flashy neon lights, especially on the undercarriage, makes their cars look incredibly cool. It actually is a big distraction and can be dangerous putting neon close to an engine. Some states (like Arizona) allow lights on the side but not elsewhere. Other states have conditions on which color lights can be used while other states ban them totally. It depends on where one lives to see if one can get away with this crazy touch.

9 Radar Jammer


For years, drivers have been trying to find ways to get away with speeding. Rather than the logical move of just slowing down, they figure knowing where the cops are and keeping on speeding is the best move. Thus, radar detectors or jammers have been pretty popular. Obviously, states are not happy with something that can encourage unsafe driving. They also violate FCC rules and thus one can be charged under federal law. An attempt to avoid police hassles just invites bigger trouble for owners.

8 Strobing Brake Lights


This is just a feature that can range from just annoying to downright dangerous. Having a brake light act like a strobe makes it harder to judge when the car ahead of you is truly coming to a full stop or not. It can also be very distracting and thus draw a driver’s attention away from a major obstacle on the road. While strobes are looked down on in various parts of the car, the brake lights are outright illegal in several states as a big danger.

7 Race Seats


It’s an annoyance that too many car owners think all one needs is a few alterations and any vehicle can be transformed into a racing machine. This includes removing the original upholstery and replacing them with race seats straight out of NASCAR. The problem is, those seats are meant to exist only for racing, not standard cars. The problem is that these seats were not used for the standard crash tests of the car and thus can cause severe injury. Not only can one be fined but lose the car’s original warranty which means paying a lot down the road.

6 Too Loud Stereos


A good stereo system is one thing. Having one so loud that it can be heard from a mile away is another. The worst are the owners who pack in stereo systems in their cars that look like full DJ sound booths in the back seat and trunk. Many states have strict laws on noise pollution and decibel level which owners must adhere to. It’s okay if the car is parked for a party but these monster sound machines are banned in several states.

5 Cold Air Intake


California takes this mod very seriously as a crime. The problem is that trying to push in too much cold air can affect a car’s exhaust system. That doesn’t stop modders from attempting to use it on the belief it boosts up the power of the engine and lets it run faster. Unless the intake is stamped with an exception label, it’s illegal and adds to a huge fine. Other states offer more leeway but

4 Muffler Deletion


Mufflers are pretty self-explanatory in what they do. Sadly, many drivers believe it’s just an option that doesn’t work for them. They want exhausts so loud they can threaten jet engines for sound and be heard for blocks around. It’s meant to make them seem cool but are incredibly annoying to other drivers and a huge distraction. It varies depending on which state but several have very strict rules on the decibel level of an engine and thus don’t enjoy these massively loud engines boasting such huge sound.

3 High-Intensity Lamps


This is one of those mods that sounds like a good idea in theory but not in practice. Some drivers will think they’re being conscientious by having their headlights be as bright as possible to illuminate before them, especially in night rides. But other drivers can be blinded by these lights to the point of missing obstacles in front of them. Several states have limits to how bright lamps are and banning HD bulbs are not working right for halogen settings.

2 Studded Tires in Good Weather


In places where snow is a near constant, studded tires are terrific. They can be life-saving and aid immensely with cars. But in clear weather, they’re not only unneeded but downright stupid. Studs on a bright summer day can cause a car to lose control and do damage to the tires themselves. Washington state is one of several that outright bans studded tires during the spring and summer months and more ban metal entirely for rubber studs. It shows how, unless it’s harsh winter, studded tires don't belong on a car.

1 Truck Roof Light Rig


There’s something about trucks that makes the owners think a simple trip to the store equals an epic journey. Truck drivers can go all out creating huge mods and various unnecessary additions they think look cool but really comes off amazingly annoying. The roof lights are a major example as truckers think putting up a huge set of lights helps in dark driving. Other drivers find it very distracting and it also affects the weight of the car. North Carolina is one of several states that ban these rigs to keep driving easier.

Sources: zeroto60times.com, Jalopnik, motorists.org

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