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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

WATCH: New UAE car modification rules come into force 

Modification enthusiasts now need to abide by a code that sets limits on how much they can play with their engine, exhaust system and transmission, among other things.

A vehicle inspection modification centre at Yas Marina Circuit will assess car modifications to see if they are legal or not Courtesy Seven Media
A vehicle inspection modification centre at Yas Marina Circuit will assess car modifications to see if they are legal or not Courtesy Seven Media

The days of souped up cars roaming the roads of the UAE with horsepower far greater than the vehicle is meant to have are gone after the Government introduced new rules for modified cars.

On Tuesday it was revealed that cabinet decision 45 of 2016 had come into effect as of June 1 this year, meaning that modification enthusiasts now need to abide by a code that sets limits on how much they can play with their engine, exhaust system and transmission, among other things.

The code will soon be distributed to car workshops across the country and people with existing modified cars will have to apply for a modification certificate from Emirates Authority For Standardisation & Metrology.

Previously the process was unregulated, “yet a car could be stopped at any given point by the police to say it is an illegal activity,” said Al Tareq Al Ameri, the chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit.

Before, motorists were left unsure about what was permitted and what was not but now there are parameters to adhere to so car enthusiasts can stay on the right side of the law.

The code, which exclude motorcycles, trailers, caravans and tractors, also covers high-performance braking systems, bull bars, the vehicle chassis, suspension, engine air distributors but it excludes fenders, type of seats used, lights and entertainment systems.

An example of an illegal modification, said Mr Al Ameri, would be to modify a car designed to have 200 horsepower to have 1,000 “without looking at the whole equation”.

“The whole thing needs to be balanced,” he said. “Quality of work is sometimes not dispensed, and fuel not safe, and you end up with a catastrophe, especially if someone doesn’t know what they are doing.”

The new code also takes environmental safety into account, he said.

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“The whole activity of modifying vehicles has been happening for years but there were no regulation for the type of equipment or technical work that happens,” said Mr Al Ameri. “This needs to be regulated and it has been under discussion in the community for years.”

To obtain a modification licence, people will need to have their modified vehicles examined by the vehicle inspection modification centre that was launched on Tuesday at Yas Marina Circuit, in cooperation with the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.

“The centre will inspect the car and issue a paper about the change that happened, or the declining of changes, so those results need to go to Esma, who will issue the licence,” said Mr Al Ameri.

The centre is the first of its kind in the UAE and will start examining cars in a few weeks’ time.

Mohammed bin Sulayem, president of the ATCUAE and former Emirati rally champion, said he was particularly enthusiastic about the opportunities the new regulations will bring for motorsport enthusiasts.

“I am grateful for this. I had modifications too, and there was a confusion, nobody knew what was allowed and what was not,” he said.

Motorists should not look at this as a limitation, he added, but as a chance to express their passion within legal and safety limits.

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“It sends the message that you may have been an outlaw before but now you are in the law,” Mr bin Sulayem said.

“There were contradictions before and today we want to develop drag racing, so now not a single youth has an excuse not to be involved legally, which will provide opportunities to develop car sports.”

People now can also start car modification businesses, which he said could be a multi-million dirham industry. “Before, if one wanted to propose a business for such things, they were reluctant to buy parts they might be banned from selling,” he said.

“A lot of people were saying, ‘how can I go and establish a business if there are no rules?’

“This is not only helping car enthusiasts but also helping us have safer roads.”

What the code involves ...

The new regulations state that owners of modified cars now have to get approval for parts they have altered.

Decision number 45 of 2016 lists what kind of modified car parts require approval. They include: Engine, exhaust system, suspension system, change of the order of the vehicle’s seats, high-performance brake systems, gearbox, vehicle chassis, vehicle searchlights, fuel additives, internal entertainment system, air filters, engine radiator, engine ignition system, vehicle wheel rims, tyres (excluding racing tyres and sand tyres).

Motorcycles, trailers, caravans and tractors are not required to get approval for modifications.

A jail term and/or a fine of at least Dh30,000 is imposed on anyone who has violated the mandatory approved standards. The materials and products that are in violation will also be confiscated. The same penalty applies to anyone “who has introduced, offered or sold a material or a product as bearing the mark of the approved standards in contrast to the truth. In this case, all the materials subject to the violation shall be confiscated”.

More information can be found at www.esma.gov.ae.

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