Can I be ticketed for modifying my car?

A reader wonders about all the cars he sees on the road equipped with various aftermarket add-ons. What's legal and what's not?

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Eric Lai answers readers’ auto questions every week for Wheels

Q: Are the modifications people make to Jeeps (Wranglers specifically) legal?

I see these vehicles with add-on aftermarket “rock bars/bull bars” protecting their grills, winches, large tires on bead-lock rims, additional off-road lights, etc.

Are these “Jeepers” at risk of being ticketed? Would this apply to XTerras and FJs as well?

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A: Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols replies:

“Rock bars, bull bars” and winches are permitted provided that installation of these components does not constitute a safety hazard to vehicle occupants, pedestrians, other vehicles or property as stipulated in Ontario Regulation 611. There should be no exposed sharp edges, loose cables, unrestrained parts, hooks or other potentially injurious components located where pedestrians or other vehicles may come into contact with this hardware. In addition, the original bumpers, mud flaps, fenders, etc., must not be removed and must remain securely fastened to the vehicle.

Large tires and bead-lock rims may be installed provided that there is no contact between the tire and vehicle body. Tires and wheels must be designed for on-highway use. Note that O. Reg. 625 requires that if installing larger diameter tires, braking performance must continue to satisfy the requirements of O. Reg. 587, since increasing tire diameter without upgrading brake capacity will result in decreased vehicle braking capability, for a given brake pedal application load, compared to the original configuration.

Off-road lights are intended for that purpose only, as their name implies. Section 62(9) HTA restricts the number of lighted lamps to four. In addition, O. Reg. 596 prohibits the use of any significant lighting device (that is one producing more than four mean spherical candela), carried on a motor vehicle, from being operated on a highway without the use of glare-eliminating hardware. An off-road light would be considered a significant lighting device.

Eric Lai adds:

The HTA has regulations/standards regarding lighting (number and colour) and certain other vehicle parts/accessories (such as mufflers), for vehicles driven on public roads. For example, white headlights are limited to four, but it would not be illegal to have an off-road roof-mounted light bar on the vehicle with six white lights — provided they’re not activated while on public roads.

Q: I recently had my vehicle serviced at a GTA quick-lube shop. After researching online, I found some part prices excessive (namely, $43 for Air Filter AF4001 and $90 for Cabin Air Filter CAF1814P).

Are these prices reasonable? Are there any industry guidelines?

A: Generally, there will be multiple grades of auto parts available for any given vehicle. These vary from original-equipment (OEM), to name-brand aftermarket, to off-brands or generics. As you get to the lower end of the scale, quality may become questionable and such parts are usually priced accordingly. (That said, many consumers find lower priced parts perfectly acceptable and/or report dissatisfaction with high-end parts.)

Manufacturers will provide a suggested list price for their products. However, each shop may opt to sell at, below, or even above the manufacturer’s list price for the part if they wish.

Keep in mind that your cited prices included installation. For an item like air filters, your cheapest option would be to buy them on sale and install them yourself. But, if you want the convenience of having someone else supply and install the part, you should expect to pay for it.

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