One of the most popular practices among automotive enthusiasts is the aftermarket modding of cars. Some are as simple and safe as swapping heads, adding in an appropriately-sized turbo kit, or even something as simple as an upgraded exhaust system (just not in California, where even stock cars get banned). Others are much more involved, such as full engine and transmission swaps and lift kits. However, some modifications have begun to go out of fashion among motorists, either by nature of the culture's progression or by intervention from authorities.

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Earlier this month, a grace period set by the state of South Carolina regarding a law banning a specific use of lift kits ended, meaning drivers whose vehicles are still modified in this way will face hefty fines and risk losing their license. The modification, known as the Carolina Squat, the Tennessee Tilt, and the California Lean, sees truck owners installing a lift kit on their front suspension but not the back, creating dangerous driving scenarios as a result. While the death of this aftermarket automotive trend may be the industry's latest, it's far from the first ban to be enacted.

Coal Rolling No Longer Cool According To The EPA

One of the most popular banned automotive trends is known as "coal rolling" or "rollling/rollin' coal," which used to be a common practice among angry diesel truck owners. Essentially, it's the practice of modifying a diesel engine to emit large amounts of black or gray sooty exhaust fumes by forcing the engine to not fully combust the diesel fuel it burns. Modified vehicles typically possess the telltale smoke stacks vertically affixed to the front of the truck's bed, against the rear-cabin windows. These vehicles also tend to have smoke switches and large exhausts, with all of these modifications totaling anywhere from $200 to a whopping $5,000.

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With such a large price tag, it's questionable why someone would want to do a seemingly pointless mod in the first place. Many cite "American freedom" and a stand against "rampant environmentalism" as reasons, clearly linking the practice to an act of protest against environmental regulations. The smog emitted from these vehicles is even called "Prius repellent" because some drivers will use it to punish others with environmentally friendly vehicles. While the practice was formally banned and deemed illegal by the Environmental Protection Agency in July 2014, a 2020 report from the agency estimated that 15% of diesel trucks in the USA are rigged to "delete" emissions controls, including rolling coal modifications.

Automatic License Plate Covers May Net You A Heftier Fine Than The Cameras

One of the most frustrating technological advancements in policing motorists in recent years has been the introduction of traffic cameras which monitor and track, among other things, a vehicle's speed. Largely seen in metropolitan areas, these cameras are set to automatically trigger and snap a photo of any vehicle passing by its sight which is going more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit. The 10 mph mark is typically set since this is the minimum fine that, in most traffic courts, would actually hold up as a legitimate offense.

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Following the tech's introduction, companies immediately began manufacturing various kinds of automatic license plate covers which are meant to conceal a car's plate at the touch of a button. Some models actually fully flip the plates around, while others have shutters which are specifically designed to make a plate illegible from a traffic camera's photo. Unfortunately, these are fully illegal in most states, and the fines range from $50 to upwards of $300 depending on where a motorist is caught with such a device. In some states, this can even result in a fine more expensive than the speeding ticket itself would've been, let alone a red light camera ticket.

Radar Detectors & Laser Jammers Will Get Motorists In A Jam Of Their Own

Ever popular radar detectors and laser jammers also fulfill a similar purpose, with the end goal being to let motorists run their vehicles rampant on open roads without fear of legal or financial repercussions. Radar detectors are dash-mounted devices which can detect if the speed of the vehicle it's installed in or those around it are being monitored by law enforcement via radar speed guns. This allows the driver to slow down before fully passing the radar gun, at which point they (hopefully) have avoided getting a speeding ticket.

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Laser jammers achieve the same goal, but their use is much more obvious to law enforcement since scanning a car with a laser jammer will return a cosine error or "no response" to the gun. While these errors can come from misuse of the gun, most veteran law enforcement members will likely assume a laser jammer is in play. Both are outlawed in several states across the USA, with radar detector fines typically averaging a couple of hundred dollars and those of laser jammers potentially reaching thousands of dollars depending on location.

Catalytic Converter Removals Can Earn Motorists Catastrophic Consequences

One of the most desirable modifications to do to a car is also one of the most illegal, with the removal or modification of a catalytic converter having potentially catastrophic consequences. Motorists who modify or remove their catalytic converter in any way, shape, or form can receive up to $10,000 in fines, and potentially have the car impounded, too. Furthermore, with inspection stations legally required to report these modifications, it's only a matter of time until most motorists who perform this mod are caught.

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The reason why this modification is so desirable, in spite of the potential risks, is due to the myriad of benefits it provides for performance and the aesthetic appeal of a vehicle. By removing the "cat" as it's known in shorthand, the engine is first and foremost allowed to breathe more freely. In turn, this leads to increased horsepower, improved sound, reduced fuel consumption, and lower engine temperature. However, an environmental downside is more harmful emissions, hence why the modification is illegal and so heavily punished, and why those who steal them are punished just as severely.

California All But Bans Cold Air Intakes

While cold air intakes aren't fully illegal in California, the state banned them and considers the modification illegal when installed outside their regulatory oversight. For Californian car enthusiasts to affix a cold air intake to their vehicle, the specific system going into their vehicle must be registered with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and receive a CARB Executive Order (EO) number to be considered fully legal. Again, while this isn't an outright ban on the trend, California has effectively stopped owners from modding their vehicle in the way they want by introducing regulatory oversight.

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The reason for this regulatory oversight stems from the way a cold air intake functions. By cooling and compressing air before forcing it into the combustion chamber, which creates a higher volume of air in the combustion chamber than otherwise possible. This leads to increased engine power, but can also raise emissions levels, hence California's intervention in and all but banning of the modding practice.

2024-05-20T02:54:34Z dg43tfdfdgfd