In India, there are car enthusiasts who buy new cars and loves to modify them for better looks and performance. Now, the thing is that one needs to understand that what’s the legal position of the car modifications that are done in India along with the applicable provisions.

The legislation for car modifications in India

Most of the provisions related to car modifications are governed by the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988 and the Central Motor Vehicle Rules of 1989. The alteration of the motor vehicles is mentioned under Section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, which states about the modification of the vehicles. Under this section, no owner shall modify a motor vehicle that interferes with the specifications prescribed by the manufacturer. However, some of the car modifications are not restricted under this section. Some of the modifications are as follows:

  • The conversion of the vehicle from petrol to CNG by using the CNG kits prescribed by the central government is permitted under this section. No owner shall use CNG or LPG kits that are not prescribed by the central government. One must refrain from altering the characteristics of a vehicle without any proper authorization under this act.
  • Engine modifications are also allowed under the section, but only with the approval of the state government. The state government is the one that authorizes people owning at least one vehicle to replace the engine with another unit of the same vehicle model and engine.

Additionally, the section also mandates that changes made to a motor vehicle must be reported to the registering authorities. Any kind of modification that has to be made to a vehicle used for hire or purchase purposes needs approval from the owner.

There can also be modifications made to the windows by using tints, but one should ensure that there is 70% visibility for the front and rear windows and 50% for the side windows. This is mentioned under Rule 100(2) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989. Anything below these would be deemed to be illegal in India. The louder horns are also prohibited under Rule 21 of the Cental Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, because that causes unpleasant noise on the roads and disturbs the other drivers on the roads.

Some of the modifications are restricted in India, but one can still make modifications to add some modern features to the new car without affecting the structural integrity of the car.

Case Laws

The Kerala High Court’s division bench had previously declared that structural changes to motor vehicles were allowed under the 1989 Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules. Kerala is hence the home of a large number of modified cars, and these cars still have a very large fan base. “In our considered opinion the Division Bench in the impugned judgment of the High Court of Kerala has failed to give effect to the provisions contained in section 52(1) and has emphasized only on the Rules,” reads the Supreme Court’s ruling, which overturns the Kerala High Court’s decision. It is therefore impossible to say that the Division Bench’s ruling accurately laid down the law.

The Act’s provisions supersede the Rules, which may also be altered in a certificate of registration—with the exception of entries made in accordance with the manufacturer’s original specifications. In such spirit, Circular No. 7/2006 should also be read. Authorities must take appropriate action. Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran comprise the bench that rendered this decision for the Supreme Court in the case of REGIONAL TRANSPORT OFFICER & ORS. VERSUS K. JAYACHANDRA & ANR.


In conclusion, car modifications are great until they don’t cause harm to the others on the road. Some car modifications which causes disturbances are already banned by the Supreme Court of India in the interests of justice. The Government of India and the judiciary must still promote the car modifications that cause no legal harm and promotes the car culture in India.

Contributed by: Abhiraj Singh

Sushant University (2021-26)

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