Skid Marks

Dangerous vehicle modifications that should be banned


In the past few weeks, we’ve seen heated debates, remarks and comments on the Land Transportation Office’s crackdown on modified SUVs.

This time, let’s look at it from a different point-of-view, and discuss what modifications should be banned or prohibited on private vehicles plying our national roads for both safety reasons and practical reasons.

1. Blinking tail lights/brake lights

These blinking tail lights or brake lights are an eyesore. Firstly, they mimic emergency response vehicles such as police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

The law is clear that no private vehicle should ever mimic such vehicles. It adds to the confusion in a real emergency situation, and it puts people suffering from epilepsy and other diseases at risk of getting a seizure when driving, or even as a passenger.

Plus, they are really annoying/irritating when parked in a traffic situation. Categorically, these are just as bad as turning on your LED bars in traffic.

2. Super dark tints

There’s a reason why tint is regulated in other countries. Number one is for the safety of law enforcement and traffic officers who flag down vehicles.

If the tint is super dark, it can conceal the fact that the driver or passengers are hiding contraband or a deadly weapon that can cause harm or kill the apprehending officer.

Secondly, and a more practical reason, is that the driver himself has very limited visibility.

The result? The driver will continually use its vehicle’s high beam lights even in densely populated areas with ample street lighting, and blinding other motorists.

Try driving with this type of tint on the highway or a provincial winding road, with rain and fog plus no street lights, and you have a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

3. Odd-colored headlights

In my life as a car guy, I’ve seen people use headlights with a deep green or deep blue hue.

Despite being very powerful to the point of glaring and blinding other incoming motorists and vehicles, it still gives very poor night time visibility.

The law states that headlights should be primarily white, or close to daylight. Even modern HID/LED lights, with a tinge of blue are still considered white, and all-weather halogen bulbs that have a tinge of yellow/gold are still predominantly white/daylight because they provide the best illumination for dark driving conditions, and provide the best contrast to the unlit surrounding environment.

I’ve also seen some motorists use red as a form of headlight. The law is also clear that red should only be used for tail/brake lights, and in some cases, rear signal lights, but ultimately, all for the rears and none for the fronts.

4. Stretched tires on wide wheels

The stance style of modifying cars has been gaining a lot of popularity lately. And they do look cool, thanks to their almost non-existent ride-height.

But another, and very much unsafe aspect of the stance style are stretched tires, usually on super wide wheels that stick out of the fenders.

Tires have a relevant range of wheel widths they can be mounted on. For example, a 215/45R17 tire can be safely mounted on a 7- to 8-inch wide wheel on a 17-inch diameter wheel.

Mount that same size tire on a 9-inch wide wheel or wider, (something stance guys usually do), and you run the risk of de-beading them from the wheel at highway speeds, particularly during hard, fast cornering.

Debeading the tires from your wheel will cause an accident. So, while we respect everyone’s creativity and self-expression, keep it safe and don’t cause any accidents, please.

5. Wheels and tires that excessively stick out of the fender

Wheels and tires that excessively stick out of the fender (more than 2 inches or 50 mm per side or per wheel) are dangerous.

In the event of contact, the tires will cause more damage because they are a moving component, can kick up more water on the road and spray it onto other motorists causing poor visibility.

These could also kick up more debris like small rocks and stones that can cause damage to other vehicles.

If your wheels and tires are tucked inside of the fenders, they won’t kick up water or debris on the road, and fling them to motorists as your fender liner and mud-flaps will help dissipate them safely.

Plus, wheels tucked inside the fenders are more aerodynamic, helping to save on fuel, and generate less wind noise to make your drive smoother, more relaxed, and refined.

That’s why all tin-top race cars and saloon-bodied touring cars and Le Mans GT cars have tires tucked inside their fenders—for both safety and efficiency.

Also, tires that have their wheels sticking out excessively can also cause all sorts of long-term problems on your axles, wheel studs or lug nuts, wheel bearings, tie rods and rack ends because they exaggerate the strain put on them when doing a full turn, particularly under full suspension compression.

6. Excessively lowered cars

Lowered cars are cool as mentioned earlier. The stance style is the ultimate expression of lowered cars. However, many aftermarket off-the-shelf suspension manufacturers that offer lowering kits limit how low your vehicle can go.

The minimum margin for ground clearance should be roughly 4 to 5 inches from your chassis’ lowest point to the ground. Anything lower, and you increase the risk of damaging your underchassis or engine parts.

An extreme example? Gouging or worse, putting a hole on your engine’s oil pan or automatic transmission’s oil pan, which will cause an oil spill. We all know that is dangerous on the road for other motorists.

Likewise, you limit suspension travel if the car is excessively lowered, which can cause a loss of control on bumpy roads, that may lead to accidents.

And let’s not forget the generally poor road conditions we have in the Philippines, with potholes, bumps and exposed manholes that can and will wreak havoc on your vehicle.

Lowered cars are cool, but be realistic.

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