Our Handy Guide for California Vehicle Equipment Laws
In California, vehicle equipment laws are some of the most restrictive in the country. These restrictive vehicle equipment laws can cause issues for truck owners of heavily modified lifted trucks wanting to travel to California with their trucks. Since California has many extremely popular off-roading destinations, it’s good to know their vehicle restrictions while modding your vehicle.
Washington Truck Laws
California breaks down their vehicle equipment laws in the California Vehicle Code and it covers everything from suspension lifts to emissions testing. One thing of import for off-roading fans is while California allows suspension lifts, body lifts are limited to 5 inches.
There are no specific bumper height restrictions in the state of California, since limitations to frame height make specific bumper height restrictions unnecessary.
Max Overall Vehicle Dimensions
Vehicle dimension limitations are the same in California as they are in Washington State.
Wide: 102 inches
Tall: 14 feet
Length: 40 feet
Wheel & Tire Restrictions
Tires need to be approved by California’s Department of Transportation and cannot have any bulges or exposed cords. Tread needs to be a minimum of 2/16th of an inch for the front tires and 1/16th of an inch for the rear tires. California also does not allow for re-grooved tires for use on the street.
As with Washington, vehicles need to be capable of stopping within 30 feet while traveling 20 miles per hour.
California requires vehicles to have both fenders and mud flaps.
Frames are restricted in California due to regulations restricting frame heights based on vehicle weight. Frame height is measured from the bottom of the factory installed frame. The breakdown is below:
Weight / Max Height
Less than 4,500 pounds / 27 inches
4,501 to 7,500 pounds / 30 inches
7,501 to 10,000 pounds / 31 inches
As with Washington State, additional lights are allowed to be installed, but a maximum of 4 front lights can be used at once. You must have at least 2 headlights and while no number is specified tail lights are required. You also are allowed a maximum of two of each of the following lights:
*Auxiliary Passing Lights
*Auxiliary Driving Lights
Windshields and windshield wipers are both required in the state of California.
Residents of California need to report all engine changes to the DMV within 10 days of completing the work. They also require that any engine replacements need to be from the same year or more recent than the vehicle and comply with all current engine emissions standards and be CARB approved.
You must have a muffler and cannot have exhaust cutouts in California. To comply with California’s strict emissions requirements, residents must get their emissions tested twice per year.
South Sound Trucks Knows Washington Equipment Laws
California’s California Vehicle Code lays out many requirements for vehicles to be street legal in California. When you are travelling to California it’s a good idea to check before to make sure your lifted truck is street legal, even if you are from Washington State and especially if you’re from states such as Oregon or Idaho.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the online inventory of used trucks in Olympia, then visit South Sound Trucks to test drive the truck of your dreams and find a new weekend warrior to hit the trails with.