- Helping you drive happy

Vehicle Modification: Regulations and Insurance

Quality car insurance coverage, at competitive prices.
Ask for a car insurance quote today.

In collaboration with Promotuel

Vehicle Modification: Regulations and Insurance

Have a car you want to soup up or give a new look to? You can, with some restrictions. SAAQ is responsible for ensuring that the vehicles on our roads are safe. To that end it develops and enforces regulations regarding what can and can’t be modified on passenger vehicles. Before taking the plunge, it’s best to get all the details. Why? So you know exactly what you can and can’t do, and how changes can affect your insurance. Here are our tips to help you make changes to your car that are safe, legal, and approved by your insurance company.

 What you can’t change on your car

For safety reasons, not all parts and components of your passenger vehicle can be changed or converted. According to the Highway Safety Code, unless you have prior authorization from SAAQ you cannot make modifications that are likely to reduce the vehicle’s stability or braking power, including changes to:

  • - The chassis
  • - The body
  • - A system or mechanism
  • - Any other component that may convert the vehicle into another type of vehicle

But what does this mean in actual fact? To help you better understand, here are examples of vehicle modifications that are prohibited:

  • - Changing or carrying out welding work on the steering components or the chassis
  • - Lowering the car to the point where:
    • - its tires touch any part of the vehicle or body
    • - its chassis touches the roadway under normal driving conditions
  • - Not complying with the vehicle manufacturer’s alignment specifications
  • - Reducing the brightness of headlights, lights, or reflectors
  • - Removing or deactivating an air bag
  • - Removing or altering the original seat belts and their anchors
  • - Connecting a four- or five-point harness to the anchor points of the original seat belt
  • - Tinting the front side windows such that light transmission is reduced to less than 70%
  • - Installing a lift kit that affects the electronic stability control system and causes tires and rims to protrude from the body
  • - Installing tires on rims that are wider than recommended by the tire manufacturer
  • - Installing tires that:
    • - are not designed for road use (racing tires)
    • - protrude from the fenders
    • - have a diameter that is larger than permitted
  • - Installing an HID headlight kit if the original sealed-beam headlight was not designed for HID bulbs
  • - Installing doors:
    • - with hinges at the rear, such that they open from front to back (“suicide” doors)
    • - that open upward (“scissor” doors)
  • - Replacing the suspension system with one that is too stiff or that has an inadequate travel range
  • - Replacing headlights, lights, or reflectors or the sealed-beam headlight with parts that are not SAE compliant
  • - Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, where the lenses were not designed for use with LED bulbs
  • - Replacing a steering wheel equipped with an airbag
  • - Changing the colour of headlights, lights, or reflectors
  • - Changing the door opening, closing, or locking system

What you can modify on your car

SAAQ guidelines do, however, let you make certain modifications to your vehicle. Some examples include:

    - Installing bigger tires and rims
    - Installing a lift kit
    - Installing larger diameter rims
    - Installing springs that are shorter than the original ones
    - Installing a set of springs and shock absorbers
    - Replacing absorbers with high-performance shock absorbers
    - Replacing headlights, lights, and reflectors with SAE-compliant parts
    - Adding a four- or five-point harness
    - Adding a wing or spoiler, or stylized side skirts

If you do make modifications, remember that your car is for road use, not racing, and consider using parts that are:

    - Designed for your car
    - From recognized manufacturers
    - Certified for road use

Have ideas in mind that aren’t on this list? Contact SAAQ first. It can provide further details on which modifications are authorized or not. Also see the following pages on the SAAQ website:


Your modified vehicle and car insurance

Did you know that making changes to your car, even cosmetic ones, can affect your insurance? It’s true! Whether aesthetic or performance related, modifications often increase the risk of damage caused by theft, fire, loss of control due to distraction or mechanical failure, etc., and therefore affect your insurance. That’s why it’s critical to keep a record of all the changes you make to your car and inform your insurer.

When should you do so? You can of course talk to your representative before making any changes. That way you can ask any questions in advance and hopefully prevent headaches and unpleasant surprises down the road. When your vehicle is modified and ready to go back on the road, you must report all the changes, additions, and replacements you have made. Your insurer will then be able to adjust your coverage and premium accordingly. Be aware that given the increased risks that come with car modification, your premium will likely increase and some of the terms may change.

What’s important when speaking to your representative is to be as upfront as possible. Tell them everything. They will be able to serve you better and find the best insurance solutions and coverage for your modified car.