California Law on Car Modifications – Part 2

California Law Against Hanging Things from Rear View Mirror

Hanging an air freshener, fuzzy dice or other objects  from your rearview mirror could be a violation of the law in your state. Specifically, in California the law prohibits placing an object that “obstructs or reduces the driver’s clear view through the windshield or side windows.”  Therefore, be certain anything you hang from your car’s rearview mirror does NOT obstruct or reduce your clear view.

California Law on Engine Modifications

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) studies aftermarket parts closely before approving what will be permitted to be installed on an on-highway driven car or vehicle. This regulation is very important because California is susceptible to smog and poor air quality so California is trying to avoid products that will add harmful emissions to our air or reduce fuel economy, whether it’s an exhaust system, cold-air intake or any engine modification.

Any car or other motor vehicle could fail the California smog check as a result of a non-CARB-approved engine component. So please check to be sure any engine modification is legal and permitted within California before installing.

California Window Tinting Laws

California has very specific laws regarding window tinting on cars and other motor vehicles.  Regarding window tinting, each state in the United States has its own rules and percentage of darkness and reflection that your car’s windows are permitted and allowed to have, as well as other specific laws, rules and regulations you should learn about before installing any window tinting.

There are many such window tinting laws and rules in California.  The following shall summarize some of them for you:

Window tint darkness rules

The amount of light that can pass through your car windows is measured in percentages (called VLT), therefore, please be certain your window tinting film is up to these standards! Your window tinting installer should be able to go over this with you.  If not, go to a different installer!   In California the regulations are the same for all vehicles –that is, the same for sedans, vans and SUVs.

  • Windshield allows transparent strip on top 4 to 5 inches
  • Front side windows must pass through more than 70% of light inside your car (70% VLT)
  • Back side windows and rear window can have any darkness

Window tint reflection

Window tinting film can reduce heat and glare.   California law does not allow the use of tinting film that has more reflection than the standard window.

Side mirrors

When a car or other motor vehicle has a tinted rear window, then the vehicle must have dual side mirrors.

Restricted tint colors

In California a car or other motor vehicle is not permitted to have red or amber window tint film on its front windshield. Further, no color-altering tint is permitted on any other car or vehicle windows.

Medical exemptions

Many states allow different window tint percentages due to certain medical conditions and if you reside in California and require this exemption you should discuss it with your health care provider and also contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for assistance.

Window film certificate

Drivers are required to have a certificate signed by the tint installing company or from the film manufacturer clearly stating the VLT percentage; and it must display the tint film manufacturer’s name and address. Manufacturers are also supposed to certify the film in California before they are permitted to sell it.

Also note that in California some counties and cities may have their own unique codes, rules and/or regulations about window tinting.  Therefore, if there is any doubt you are advised to check with the local police or sheriff office and also with the local DMV.

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