Many of us are old enough to remember the days of MTV’s Pimp My Ride, where West Coast Customs and Xzibit upgraded contestants’ cars with everything from chandeliers to chocolate fountains to popcorn machines (yes, really).

If you’re too young to have gotten a taste of this pop culture delicacy, don’t worry – Pimp My Ride culture still lives on through matte wraps, tinted windows, and spoilers of all sizes.

But, before you blow your December bonus on extras for your ride, did you know some car modifications aren’t just illegal in South Africa – they may also put your insurance at risk?

Read on to find out what the SA law (and Car Insurance) says about car modifications.

What counts as pimping your ride?

According to Arrive Alive, “It can be described as bringing about changes to the original vehicle parameter standards with a view, largely of enhancing a vehicle’s performance in fuel consumption, load capacity, cosmetic trim, or top speed runs”. Generally speaking, alterations wouldn’t necessarily affect the performance of the vehicle, whereas modifications would.

Make sure your ride is on the right side of the tracks.

“The National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 isn’t very specific about which modifications are indeed illegal or not. But, before you take your car in for an extreme makeover, you have to ask yourself if it will still be roadworthy and if it might endanger other drivers”, says Advocate Jackie Nagtegaal, Managing Director at Law For All. If your car’s not roadworthy, you need to remove the fancy extras from your vehicle.

If you’re still confused, follow this list by Arrive Alive to drive you in the right direction.

The following modifications are illegal:

1. Speed enhancements like Nitrous Oxide Cylinders.
2. Dangerously lowering the car’s suspension, which increases the risk of spinning out of control.
3. Fitting larger wheels that might compromise control and handling.
4. Installing a bigger engine that may wear tyres. Bigger isn’t always better!
5. DIY suspension changes that compromise handling.
6. Custom number plates with vulgar language or that include symbols such as (%, &,@ or $).
7. Installing sound systems that may disrupt the peace.

Does your car policy cover modifications?

Yes, we do cover modifications if it’s specified and noted in your policy. The modifications include non-standard accessories like bigger rims, tyres, sound systems and tinted windows. You can select non-standard accessories and provide proof to receive cover for it. You will, however, be responsible for the excess stated in the schedule for every loss.

Did you know?

You can visit the 24/7 Manage Portal to add or remove non-standard accessories to your car insurance policy.