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SOME local car enthusiasts lauded the efforts of the Land Transport Department in formulating a new guideline for car modifications, but raised concerns on the direction and focus of such modifications.

Declining to be named, a 26-year-old owner of a highly-modified Honda Civic said that relevant authorities have to be clear on what sort of modifications are dangerous before deciding what is legal or illegal.

"They need to realise that there is nothing wrong with customising the looks of your car with professionally-built body kits, it makes our cars more unique and strengthens the bond between the vehicle and driver," said the government worker.

"The Land Transport Department should instead be more worried about modifications done to car engines, absorbers and exhaust systems, but even then it should be ok if these parts are installed and tuned by professionals," he added.

The 26-year-old said that authorities should look into car accessories stores and workshops involved with unsafe car tune ups and modifications. "These are the cars that gives us a bad name. They just try to dump as much power into their cars with the wrong parts, making their cars less reliable and more dangerous."

Li Cheng, 28, said that this new guideline should be directed more towards suppliers of illegal car modification parts. "If you don't sell anything illegal then no one can buy it... this is what the relevant authorities should look out for."

"They also have to make sure that only quality goods and parts are imported and sold. Nothing of inferior quality such as cheap and weak rims that might shatter upon impact should be allowed on public roads," added Li.

The technician said that while his personal car has not been altered, he could easily understand why others are doing it.

"Your car is a part of your life. You want it to stand out from others and make it your own," he said, adding that he supports all sorts of car modifications, as long as they comply with the Sultanate's safety regulations.

"In the end it comes down to the responsibility of the driver. There is nothing wrong with modifying your car's sound system because it is not something dangerous, but it will become dangerous if you blast loud music which might distract others, making you less aware of your surroundings at the same time," he explained.

Hj Amin, father of a car enthusiast, said that such guidelines should have been made available a long time ago. "People have bought car accessories to find out that it is not legal during a roadblock. It becomes useless and a waste of money. They need to know what they can do to their cars."

"With a proper guideline, they will no longer have any excuse if they are caught with such modifications," added the 45-year-old businessman.

Hj Amin said that there are a number of modified cars on the road but understands that most of these modifications are to improve the car's appearance.

His real concerns were cars that have been modified for performance reasons. "Let them do what they want with the looks of their cars as long as they don't do anything that can upset their cars' balance and settings such as increasing its power or lowering the suspension," he said.

Another car enthusiast who opted for anonymity said that the car modification industry is also heavily influenced by the market. "I have spent over $7,000 on my car. A large portion of the money is spent only on the bodykit, spoiler and paint job. All of these are quality parts and fitted by professionals."

"What gives us a bad name are cheap car modifications that cut corners. Why do I buy a spoiler that costs $900 instead of a $200 one? Because it is safer and of better quality. Others might buy cheaper products that might be badly designed and built," he said.

A female companion agreed, saying that her car modifications were done by professionals with safety in mind. "I can definitely guarantee you that my car is safe on the road and is of no danger to anyone," she said, adding that safety is one of the most important issue to her when modifying her vehicle.

The Brunei Times