Confessions of a car mechanic: Drivers treat his workshop like storeroom

Confessions of a car mechanic: Drivers treat his workshop like storeroom
PHOTO: The New Paper

A pile of used car parts sits in a corner of his Ubi workshop.

The parts do not belong to Mr Ricky Tan, owner of Racing Technik Exhaust Specialist.

Instead, they are his customers', some of whom are sporting car modifications that skirt Land Transport Authority (LTA) rules.

Some are even downright illegal - cars producing ear-bursting exhaust noises.

These drivers keep their original parts in Mr Tan's shop because when the time comes for their biennial car inspection, they simply remove the illegal parts and go for the inspection with the originals.

"After the inspection, they reinstall the aftermarket parts and leave the original parts here again," says Mr Tan who specialises in exhaust modification which is one of the more popular types of modification around.

He adds that there are modifications to exhausts that conform to LTA regulations.

It is not illegal for car workshops here to modify cars - the owner bears the legal risk entirely.

Some of Mr Tan's customers have been caught infringing the law multiple times, re-modifying their cars again and again to push the limits.

They stop only after the threat of penalties becomes real, says the 53-year-old.


While Mr Tan has refused jobs due to safety concerns, it is not easy to tell if the driver would be a road nuisance.

He says: "We do ask but these drivers can easily claim they are modifying to drive at racing tracks in Malaysia."

Those found modifying the exhaust system illegally may be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for three months.

Statistics show that the number of illegal modification cases has surged exponentially over the years.

There were 1,835 such cases last year, compared to just 146 in 2008. From January to August this year, there have already been 1,764 cases.

From the start of this month, LTA has introduced harsher penalties and an enhanced inspection regime for car owners with illegally modified engines or exhaust systems.

Mr Tan says car enthusiasts are now paying attention to the stricter regulations and harsher penalties.

He fears that this will hurt his business because drivers are now more fearful of making modifications of any sort, even legal ones.

Jobs involving illegal car modifications make up less than 10 per cent of his business, he claims.

Most of his customers go to him for maintenance and repairs. Some even want to quieten their exhausts.

While workshops are not legally responsible for making illegal modifications, it is still industry practice to educate customers on what is allowed and what is not.

"Many customers do not know what the rules are. So, it is our job to inform them," says Mr Tan.

This article was first published on November 29, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.