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Vehicle modifications

Vehicle modifications are changes or differences to the original equipment manufacturing specifications (OEM) of a vehicle.

If replacement or aftermarket parts of the vehicle are not to OEM specifications then it can be considered a modification. Some modifications can be in breach of the Vehicle Equipment Regulation set out by the government.

Common modifications that are illegal

  • Tinted windows / window glazing
    • A person shall not install, replace or cover the window glazing in a windshield or in a left or right side window of a motor vehicle that is beside or forward of the driver with a transparent, translucent or opaque material. 
    • Tinting of the headlights and the rear taillights is illegal as noted under the Regulations for lighting. Any colour other than the colour specified for that specific location is in violation of the Regulations.

  • Headlamps
    • A motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle or moped, must have at least two headlamps, one on each side of the front of the motor vehicle.
    • The light from a headlamp must be white, and the lens and bulb of the headlamp must be made of clear, untinted glazing.
    • A person shall not attach or apply anything that colours the light from a headlamp to the headlamp, part of the headlamp or a bulb in the headlamps.

  • Tail lamps
    • A tail lamp must be capable of emitting a red light that is visible from at least 150 meters to the rear.

  • Colour
    • A lamp on the rear of a vehicle must emit red light unless this Regulation permits another colour.
    • Taillights produce a red light to indicate to other drivers the vehicle is stopping or slowing and in some cases turning.  If this is not seen then the potential for rear end collisions can occur.

  • Mufflers
    • A motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine must have an exhaust muffler that cools and expels the exhaust gases from the engine without excessive noise and without producing flames or sparks.
    • A person shall not drive or operate a motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine if the exhaust outlet of the muffler has been widened.
    • A person shall not drive or operate a motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine if a device is attached to the exhaust system or the muffler that increases the noise made by the expulsion of gases from the engine or allows a flame to be ignited from the exhaust system.
    • If the vehicle or motorcycle doesn’t have any baffles or resonators inside the muffler, or is missing the muffler, it causes the vehicle to expel the gases from the engine, creating excessive noise and could cause flames or sparks.

  • License plates
    • Obscured or covered license plates are illegal. The license plate must:
      • be properly attached, visible and un-obscured at all times;
      • not have any cover over it, whether it’s clear or smoked; or
      • have a distorter which distorts the plate.

    • If the plate is covered with a cover or a plate distorter this item can be seized and used as evidence in court.

Why are tinted windows illegal?

  • If the vehicle is involved in a collision the glass is designed to break into small pieces, the window film doesn’t allow this to happen and the glass can become a large sharp object, possibly causing injury to the occupants.
  • Tinted windows decrease the vision depth that a driver observes through the window, reducing his/her perception of objects through the window.
  • Police officers are unable to observe how many occupants may be in the vehicle during traffic stops.
  • Civilians are unable to identify occupants should the vehicle be involved in a hit and run or possible road rage incident.

Why is there specific colouring in place for lights?

  • Other colours aside from white light in the front of a vehicle is distracting to oncoming vehicles, it could cause momentary blindness.
  • Can cause confusion as only emergency vehicles are permitted to have colored lights in the front of the vehicle.
  • There is the issue of illumination, where there can be a problem with traffic signs and wildlife not being illuminated properly.

How can I make a vehicle (dirt bike, racing car, etc) street legal?

These types of vehicles can be made street legal by ensuring that the vehicle meets all the standards required to safely operate the vehicle on the roadway. These include:

  • working signal lights, headlights and brake lights;
  • mirrors;
  • exhaust system in proper working order;
  • adequate braking system that can bring the vehicle to a stop;
  • bumpers (if applicable); seat belts (if applicable);
  • speedometer; and,
  • horn.

Is it illegal to sell/distribute modifications?

It is not illegal to sell modifications; it is up to the consumer to be aware of what modifications they want to do and educate themselves with the laws and also to speak to law enforcement for advice if they are unsure of what is acceptable.

If you purchase a vehicle and it has modifications it is your responsibility to make sure that the vehicle conforms to the vehicle equipment regulation. If the modifications are in contravention of the regulation, arrangements should be made to correct this or you will be subject to the fines associated with the infraction.

If you are in breach of any of the equipment violations, the following could happen:

  1. You will be issued a summons for the infraction.
  2. You will be issued a vehicle compliance form. This means:
    • You will be given 60 days to repair the problem and be instructed to attend a district office to show that the repair has been completed.
    • The vehicle may be directed to a repair facility of your choice to have the repairs done.
    • The vehicle cannot be driven until the repairs are completed.
    • The officer may seize the license plate and not return it until the repairs are completed.

Failing to follow these directions can result in charges against you. Information on what standards are acceptable can be found in the Traffic Safety Act under Vehicle Equipment Regulation through the Alberta Queens Printer.