An increasing number of Singaporeans are modifying their motorbikes and cars, emphasising their personal style by adding parts that enhance performance or comfort, or simply improve their vehicle’s appearance.
But such modifications can cause real problems for vehicle owners if they fall outside Land Transport Authority (LTA) regulations.
The biggest risk is the one posed to the rider or driver of a vehicle if a given modification affects their machine’s safe operation. A vehicle that is more difficult to control also poses a risk to other road users.
Motorbike Modifications on the Rise
Singaporean motorcyclists are increasingly enamoured with modifications, whether they are after-market seats, adjustable footrests, braking components or “sotong” tyres – which are narrower than regular tyres. It’s a similar story regarding cars. In 2008, an average of 146 road users per month were caught by authorities for having illegal modifications. But in the first quarter of 2013 an average of 1,360 drivers and riders were caught per month.
While these figures are high, the LTA themselves admit that an increase in enforcement and public feedback is likely to have boosted numbers.
As anyone who has purchased modifications knows, items such as exhausts, bodywork enhancements and rims are easy to get – either in auto shops or online. But there are numerous ways these parts may not be equal to originals. For example, after-market parts may not behave in the same way as originals if there is an impact; crumple zones may not be as effective as when the vehicle first left the factory.
Understanding the Risks
Aside from the crucial safety issue, those caught by the LTA with illegal modifications can face up to $1,000 fine, or jail time of up to three months. According to the LTA, common offences relate to tinted windows, exhausts and lighting.
Insurance and Warranty Problems
Another big concern is that modifications might void a motorbike or a car’s guarantee. Insurance claims can also be much more problematic to process, particularly if a modification may have contributed to an accident.
Getting Away With It?
In some LTA authorised inspections, a small number of vehicle owners are thought to have reverted parts back to their originals in order to pass muster. However, the LTA is recommending inspection centres now take photos of vehicles, so that if the car/motorbike is stopped later on with illegal modifications, the owner cannot claim that the parts had been previously LTA approved.
What if My Parts Are Discontinued?
In some instances, a vehicle owner may be compelled to purchase an after-market part from a different manufacturer because the original part is no longer made. The LTA have said they will look at such instances on a “case-by-case basis”. An after-market part may be permitted if a manufacturer confirms the original part’s non-availability.
To what degree certain modifications affect safety is sometimes a matter of debate, but if there is a chance of adversely affecting the performance of your vehicle, it is arguably not worth the risk.
In addition, with risks concerning warranty voiding and problems with making insurance claims, car and motorcycle owners should think carefully before modifying their vehicle.
What Modifications Are Allowed?
Find out what modifications the LTA permits in the following list from Onemotoring.com.sg.
Does DirectAsia.com Cover Modified Vehicles?
As long as the motorbike or car modification is permitted by the Land Transport Authority, DirectAsia.com may be able to offer insurance cover.