Let’s start at the basics. There are two sides to every single inspection code you need to be concerned with. One is obviously is it legal for inspection. Two is even tho it passed safety inspection, can I get a ticket for it? Answer: Yes… yes you can.
LED’s, Required Lights, and Auxiliary Lighting
One of the most common questions we get at the shop is in regards to legality of lights, placement, and aftermarket lighting . As with all codes this can be a little difficult to interpret for safety inspection… and afterwards the legality is judged via command guidance and discretion of the troopers in the field.
Brake and License Plate Lights
Your vehicle came equipped from the factory with a certain amount of brake and marking lights. No matter what you do, or how you modify them, you 100% need to have the same amount it shipped with, and with the same functions. For example if you move your 3rd brake light, cool! If you REMOVE your 3rd brake light, problem!
LED Pods and Light Bars
- Your vehicle is ONLY allowed 4 forward facing lights to be on at any time. 2 headlights and two driving or fog lights.
- Headlights and driving/fog lights MUST be DOT stamped to use on the streets.
- If a vehicle is equipped with driving/fog lights and headlights, then the driving/fog lights must be wired through the low beam circuit. IE the auxiliary lights must switch off when the brights come on.
- For on-road use driving/fog lighting must be mounted below the plane of the headlights.
- Any light above the plane of the headlights must wired to a separate switch, have a clear lens and clear reflector and UNLIT at all times on public roads. COVERS ARE NOT NEEDED if the previous conditions are met.
- Regardless of position, any auxiliary light (not markers, signals or brakes or fog lights) has to have a clear lens, reflector and white light. Any colored auxiliary lighting must be covered. The exception to this rule is fog lamps which can be amber or white.
- To be considered for “decorative” use a light has to have no bulb base or connected wiring.
- Every pair of lights must be separately switched. Headlights, Fogs, Driving, LED’s etc.
- Reverse lights are not required by law; however, if installed, they must operate. You can add as many as you wish as long as they are not run while driving in a forward direction on public roads.
- Rock lights are not legal to run on the street.
Applicable Codes of Note (Click code # for full information):
46.2-1030. When lights to be lighted; number of lights to be lighted at any time; use of warning lights.
46.2-1020. Other permissible lights. (Lightbars & Pods Covered Here)
Other Codes for Common Mods
Got an angry birds grille? Sorry to say they are illegal. You are not allowed to block your headlight output. Some inspectors may pass you anyway. So use at your own risk!
The code states that you are not allowed to run an exhaust that is louder or a different type than factory. However this is a driving violation, not inspection. So yes, you can drop an aftermarket muffler on your Jeep and pass emissions, but if you go tearing past a Trooper with an exhaust that is waking up all the babies, you are going to get a nice ticket. (same for loud stereos)
The other item to note is that your exhaust must exit past the passenger cabin and have NO holes. So those underbody dumps to delete the mufflers for clearance are for all intents and purposes, are illegal.
Fender Flares & Tires
When installing aftermarket fenders you must keep all markers and lighting your Jeep left the factory with, so while it’s ok to move those items, do not delete them.
Tire width. While the code doesn’t focus on tires and fenders specifically, but rather the need for marker light the guidance in the field is “Your tires can not extend past of the widest part of the fender flare by more than 4”.
“All motor vehicles, trailers, or semitrailers exceeding seven feet in width or the widest portion of which extends four inches beyond the front fender extremes shall be equipped with amber lights mounted at the extreme right and left front top corners of such vehicle…”
The requirements for the above code continue on, just realize you will not be able to satisfy the conditions to exceed 4″ of stickout.
Side View Mirrors
Any window tinting or stickers on rear sides or rear glass requires both outside mirrors to be present. “A right side mirror is not required if the reflecting surface of the mirror has been completely removed from the mirror housing; however, a vehicle will be required to have two outside mirrors if there is a sticker or stickers, regardless of size, sunshading or tinting film on the rear side windows or rear window.”
By Virginia law, your tires AND wheels have to be DOT approved. There are a couple DOT Beadlocks on the market, but not many. Hutchinson Industries being one of the exceptions.
The rules here are pretty easy. If it came with it, it needs to keep it. Whatever you cut off needs to be re-enforced properly. IE… if you do a 6″ lift with a cradle drop, the Inspectors may fail it, because it has changed the structural integrity of the frame. If you do a long arm kit thats probably safe as long as the new crossmember is properly secured.
Steering joints must be in a state of good repair. So check them regularly after wheeling trips.
Heim joints (as opposed to tie rod ends) are NOT LEGAL for use on public streets… MAYBE. The Codes of Note are => 19VAC30-70-110. and 46.2-1065 which says replacement parts must “meet Society of Automotive Engineers standards of excellence, in order to correct deficiencies in the steering gear.” and we are waiting on a code of reference from SAE. So stand by.
Items of note:
• You can not reduce your turning radius
• Body Lifts over 3″ are NOT allowed
• Not legal if ANY part of the wheels/tires come in contact with he frame or suspension under NORMAL operating conditions.
Applicable Codes of Note (Click code # for full information):
46.2-1063. Alteration of suspension system; bumper height limits; raising body above frame rail.
46.2-1049. Exhaust system in good working order.
46.2-1047. Straight Pipes and Gutted exhausts.
If you want to research yourself, all the codes can be found here! Virginia Motor Vehicle Codes