JPJ Tightens Illegal Tint, Plates and Headlights Enforcement

Those with these illegal modifications should be worried. 

Reading the news lately, it would seem that there is increased enforcement on illegal modifications done to cars in recent weeks. Every day there seems to be news of a roadblock somewhere to catch those driving with illegal modifications, amongst other road infractions. 

This all culminates in a news report stating that the Selangor JPJ Operation Unit has been conducting ‘Operasi Ambang Merdeka’ in the whole of Selangor yesterday. 

A total of 706 summons were handed out in this four hour operation. Although a majority of these summonses were issued to driver’s without a valid driving license, 114 cases were for illegal vehicle tint and 124 summons were issued for ‘technical violations’, which in layman speak is the umbrella term for other illegal vehicular modifications such as fancy number plates and blindingly bright retrofit HID headlights. 

Non-compliant tint, number plates with fancy script and retrofit bright HID headlights are the three most common illegal modifications found on Malaysian cars today. It does beg the question though as to why do people go through all of this trouble of installing these mods just to drive around with the constant fear of the police breathing down your neck. 

Those with said illegal mods could well counter by saying that it is their individualistic taste to make their cars stand out from the crowd. It is undeniable that fancy plates do look good on some cars, especially those Euro style plates on continental cars. 

Advocates of dark tint will say that it is for extra privacy and also to keep the interior cooler under the hot Malaysian sun. While people who retrofit those collapsed suns in jars they call aftermarket HID headlights will claim that it is to increase visibility when the sun goes down. 

Of course, it goes without saying that those who install these modifications will already know that they would get into trouble if they were ever stopped by the police. And most of them will be happy to pay the fine associated with these illegal mods time and time again, just to continue to have them on their cars. 

What more, some tinting outfits will even offer customers who purchase certain packages the ability to claim the summons they received due to the illegal tint whenever they are stopped by the police. 

So it will be highly unlikely that one article will change the minds of these avid modifiers, but lets take a look anyway on why these modifications are deemed illegal in the first place. Most of them, as you’d expect, is actually for the benefit of other road users around. 

Let’s start with the most obvious one first, which will be the retrofit HID headlights. These blindingly bright headlights are obviously illegal because they cause glare and blinds the vision of the driver of the car in front, making it even more dangerous at night than it already is. 

It is already bad enough to be in front of the latest generation of Honda and BMW SUVs with their bright white LED headlights at night, so it goes without saying that those fitted by a back-alley shop will be even more annoying, not to mention hazardous to other road users when the sun goes down. 

Moving on to the illegal tint, the main problem with these are that other people are unable to see through to the inside of the car. While some may actually think of this as being a good thing, the counterpoint to this argument is that dark tint also makes it harder to see through the car too. 

With rear windows now legally being able to be at 0% Visible Light Transmission (VLT), it is now nearly impossible in some cars to see directly through to the other car in front. This may not seem like a problem to those in high riding SUVs who lord over other road users. To those who drive a lower riding car though, it makes life harder than it needs to be when following a heavily tinted car in heavy traffic as it is impossible to gauge the traffic conditions directly in front of it. 

Lastly, it is the issue of the stylised number plates. Perhaps the least offensive modification on the list, the reason why these are illegal is mainly because it makes it harder to discern the identification of the car. These stylised plates have also been known to fool the AES speed cameras, contributing to the reasons on why these plates are deemed illegal.

All things considered, the modifications that are legal on vehicles in Malaysia are actually pretty lenient. Take tinting for example, under the new regulations passed last year, the only set of rules are a 70% VLT on the front windscreen and a 50% VLT on the front driver and passenger windows. There are also a whole host of modifications that can be done to one’s car while still being on the right side of the law. 

To those who insist on personalising their motors, it is worth pointing out that aftermarket wheels, performance brakes, and nearly every kind of spoiler, splitter and other aerodynamic modifications are possible without breaking the law every time you drive your pride and joy. For even more visual flair, how about plastering your car full of stickers, or even consider a full wrap? All these mods can be done with your car still being fully legal under the eyes of the law, so why resort to pushing your luck at the roadblock with these illegal modifications? 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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