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NC trucks can ‘squat’ no more. What to know about the law banning this modification

·3 min read
Matt Silfer for The Sun News.

If you have a truck with a squatted lift kit, you could be in violation of a North Carolina law.

A new law that took effect on Dec. 1 makes the popular “Carolina Squat” after-market modification for trucks and other vehicles illegal in the state.

The law, which originated as House Bill 692 in the General Assembly’s 2021 legislative session, was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper in August.

The law will still allow slight squatting on vehicles, but more extreme squatting is no longer allowed — and if you’re caught in violation of the law, you could have your license revoked.

Here’s more information about the law and how it could affect you or someone you know.

What is the Carolina Squat?

The “Carolina Squat” refers to an after-market modification, often performed on trucks, that lifts vehicles unevenly, so that the front end is higher than the back.

According to HotCars.com, the Carolina Squat actually originated from desert racing in California, but eventually spread via social media all over the country, becoming especially popular in North and South Carolina.

There generally is not a practical or utilitarian purpose for the modification, but it’s often done for aesthetic or style purposes among car enthusiasts.

Is the Carolina Squat dangerous?

Critics of the Carolina Squat, including state lawmakers, cite safety concerns for drivers and pedestrians as a major reason why the modification shouldn’t be allowed.

The News & Observer previously reported that in a May committee hearing for H.B. 692, bill sponsor Rep. Brenden Jones, a Columbus County Republican, said extreme lifts cause lots of safety concerns, including:

Dangerously angled headlights.

Drivers not being able to see the road, other vehicles and pedestrians in front of them.

The cars falling apart as they are being driven.

“I’ve seen several instances where the wheels have literally run off these vehicles,” said Jones, who owns a used car dealership in Tabor City.

What is illegal under the new law?

The new law takes aim at extreme lifts by limiting the height differential a modification causes between the front and back of a car.

The law specifically says no “private passenger automobile” can be driven on “any highway or public vehicular area” if “by alteration of the suspension, frame or chassis, the height of the front fender is four or more inches greater than the height of the rear fender.”

A private passenger automobile is any four-wheeled motor vehicle designed principally for carrying passengers on public roads and highways. That applies to any vehicle that fits the criteria, not just trucks.

The law says the height of the fender should be a vertical measurement from and perpendicular to the ground, through the centerline of the wheel and to the bottom of the fender.

The law applies to all modified vehicles, even if they were modified before the law went into effect.

That means if your vehicle is already modified with a squat of more than four inches, you’ll need to change the modifications to adhere to the new requirements.

What are the consequences for breaking the law?

Violators of the new law can have their license revoked after a third or subsequent conviction of operating a vehicle with the illegal modifications.

A “third or subsequent conviction” will occur if, at the time you are caught violating the law, you have two or more previous convictions under the law that occurred in the past 12 months.

If your license is revoked under the new law, it will be revoked for at least a year.

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