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Behind The Wheel

Be smart about vehicle modifications

There are many different types of vehicles manufactured today in many different models and colours with a host of accessories to make your ride just right for you. For some of us, this just isn't enough and we want to modify our vehicles to suit our personalities and desires. Some of these modifications are unique and permitted by law, but some are unsafe and will put you in conflict with vehicle safety rules. How do you know what is allowed and what isn't?

One might think that a vehicle purchased new or used from a dealership would be a pretty safe bet to be legal. After all, it is illegal for someone (dealer or not) to display a vehicle for sale or sell it if it is not equipped as required by the Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations. Unfortunately it is still "buyer beware" here too as illegal modifications are not as uncommon as you would expect, particularly in relation to window tinting.

Common sense might be your next thought. If it wasn't legal, the businesses should not be able to sell the parts to you, should they? If that was true, you would not see ram's head taillight covers, black plastic covers for all lights, light bulbs in all colours of the rainbow and many other common modifications. Beware of the small print: "Consult your local authorities..." It's usually a pretty good indication that you may not want to use it.

Do you have any questions? There are probably three good places to go for advice, the local traffic enforcement unit, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement and your local designated inspection facility. It is always better to ask first and avoid both legal difficulties and wasting the money spent on illegal equipment that will have to be removed.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

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About the author...

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years in his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. It was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and now Schewe retired from the Force in January of 2006, but the column became a habit and continues.

E-mail him your questions or concerns: [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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