‘Quick fix’ mods are costing lives, warns IAM

12.00 | 11 July 2014 | | 3 comments

The IAM is warning that some popular aftermarket vehicle modifications are making cars and vans illegal and risking lives.

The IAM has highlighted three of the most common modifications that render vehicles illegal – diesel particulate filter removal, fitting xenon headlights, and reprogramming or ‘chipping’ vehicle electronic control units (ECUs).

The charity says that people are rarely prosecuted despite the risks to other road users.

Tim Shallcross, IAM head of technical policy, said: “Diesel particulate filter (DPF) removal has always been illegal but since January 2014 has also been reason to fail an MOT. Some garages are blatantly still doing it. In short – they are selling a service that’s killing people.”

The IAM says the ‘popular trend’ for xenon headlamp conversions is also a major hazard – not having a self-levelling or washing function means they can dazzle oncoming traffic.

Tim Shallcross said: “Fitting this kind of lighting is illegal. Claiming ignorance of the law is no excuse; these lights which people choose because they look stylish could potentially have tragic consequences.”

The IAM also says that the reprogramming of ECUs, or ‘chipping’ is ‘fraught with hazards’.

Tim Shallcross concluded: “No aftermarket warranty company will offer to cover a car that has been chipped. If you don’t tell you insurer it is likely to invalidate your policy.”


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    I think that any modifications should be safe (I personally think that Xenon headlights should be outlawed). I have noticed a couple of omissions within the article such as badly modified suspension and botched chassis modifications. Both of these can alter the vehicle’s geometry and render a vehicle uncontrollable in the event of an emergency.

    Phil, Kent
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    A friend was blinded long enough to veer into the oncoming car. Both cars were written off. Later he said the windscreen had gone totally blue and opaque as the Xenon lights approached him over a speed bump.

    Ian Wakefield
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    This from a BBC news article: “In Germany you could save 18% of the lives lost in traffic if all cars were equipped with Xenon headlights,” says a study by technical services firm TUV Rheinland.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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