Although car modifications are allowed in the UK, some modifications could prove to be rather costly for you, if you are not careful. MoneySuperMarket analyzed the total number of car modification insurance claims in 2021, before revealing which modifications are most likely to invalidate car financing PCP and HP agreements.
Alloy wheels were the most common car modification in 2021, accounting for one in seven requests (14%), followed by suspension changes – which were the second most common car modification (9%).
Four changes that could get you a fine or points on your license
1) Window tints
Risk: £50-100 fine, three point penalty or court
Seven percent of all car modification requests to MoneySuperMarket were for window tinting. However, tinting your windows more than allowed can result in a £50-100 fine, three penalty points or even being reported to court. The front windshield must be 75% untinted and the side windows 70% untinted.
2) Noisy exhausts
Risk: Fine or court
Similarly, MoneySuperMarket recorded more than eight percent of auto insurance claims for exhaust system changes. But exhaust systems cannot exceed the noise limit of 74 decibels. Again, this can result in a fine or being reported to court, as well as making the vehicle more damaging to the environment.
Risk: police intervention
Spoilers are not necessarily illegal. They’re popular, with four percent of MoneySuperMarket’s car modification requests being for the addition of a spoiler. But if not installed properly, it can get you in trouble. The spoiler must be securely fastened. Otherwise, the police might have the power to remove the dangerous spoiler.
4) Nitrous oxide
Risk: fine of £1,000 to £2,500
Using nitrous oxide to increase your engine speed in a gasoline engine is extremely illegal and dangerous. This can increase the pressure of the cylinders, if exposed to enough heat, which could see the nitrous inside expand and break the cylinders, causing an explosion and costing you. Making modifications to the engine in an effort to improve performance could have safety implications and could result in a hefty fine. Potential penalties are £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a van, truck or bus.
It should also be noted that any change which makes the vehicle different from when it left the factory counts as a modification and may affect and invalidate car financing PCP and HP agreements.
Jo Thornhill of MoneySuperMarket said: ‘You should let your finance provider know of any changes to the car, no matter how small. This is because you don’t actually own the car while paying your financial installments on PCP or HP. As long as you are under your contract, the car belongs to the finance company and is its security for the loan.
“So the finance company can put restrictions on the car for as long as they own it. If they need to recoup their losses because you can’t make repayments, they can take the car and sell it. “But modifications to a car can affect its value; they can either improve it or reduce it. In your eyes, you may have improved it, but the finance company may think differently.”
MoneySuperMarket recommends sticking to your contract and returning the car to its original condition before the end of the contract. But that doesn’t always protect you if changes are discovered later. That’s why the best thing you can do is to inform them in advance of any plans to modify the car to avoid unforeseen costs/financial penalties.
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