Millions of dollars are spent designing new vehicles, but for some owners, the end result isn’t exactly what they want.

There are always car owners who want to tailor the design of their vehicle to meet their own needs, or to just stand out from the crowd.

When you’re in the market for a new set of wheels, it’s not unusual to come across a car that’s been modified in some way or another, but there are a few things to consider before you invest in one.

Warrant of Fitness and insurance risk

For extensive vehicle modifications, such as adjustable height suspension or engine transplants, a low volume vehicle (LVV) certification is required.  If you’re looking at a vehicle and you suspect it’s been modified, ask the owner to confirm if any work to alter the car has been carried out. If there are modifications which haven’t been certified, the vehicle could be unsafe and unable to obtain its WoF.

Some modifications like cosmetic body kits and components, and aftermarket suspension, springs and shocks don’t always require an LVV certificate, providing they meet certain requirements.  It’s always a good idea to ask for evidence of this, and seek a professional opinion if you have any doubts at all.

Even if a vehicle has been modified and correctly certified where appropriate, you could face higher insurance costs.

Modifications like engine transplants can increase a vehicle’s power by more than 20% and you’ll certainly be paying the price for this when it comes to your premium. Any modifications that aren’t disclosed to your insurer in advance may result in a potential insurance claim declared void.

The good vs the bad

There are sensible and practical modifications that can improve the look or performance of a vehicle. However, it’s wise to be mindful about the money that has been spent by manufacturers during a vehicle’s research and design. If someone has substituted original parts there should be a good reason behind their decision, and the execution and rationale should have been well thought out.

Haphazard modifications that are outside of the safety regulations can be dangerous.

Ongoing maintenance

Once a vehicle part has been substituted, it can make things particularly difficult when it comes to getting a replacement due to general wear and tear. This is often due to the difficulty of getting hold of identical components and, even if they can be sourced, it’s likely to be costly. This usually forces customers to revert back to the manufacturers’ standard equipment as they are easier to obtain and more affordable.

Vehicle modifications come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be hard to know what to look out for. When you’re searching the market for a new car, you may encounter modifications that actually suit the vehicle’s practical needs – for example, a towing vehicle with firmer springs. However there are those on the other end of the spectrum which you might not find so beneficial.

Whether they’re for pleasure or practicality, car modifications shouldn’t ever affect the safety of a vehicle. To avoid buying a vehicle that’s unsafe, it’s best to get a pre-purchase inspection carried out and seek professional advice before spending your cash. It’ll draw your attention to any modifications that have taken place, before it’s too late.

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