Software legal requirements?

Discussion in 'Car and Van Talk' started by MGW, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. MGW

    MGW Well-Known Member

    Wife and son both have Jaguar XE's with same engine, however different power outputs, so hers is £30 a year road tax his well over £100 a year.

    There is nothing when riding in the two cars which makes one realise one is much higher spec to other, they are just both nice cars.

    However reading the caravan forums it seems specially with VW people get the software changed to give them more power for towing, to my mind that if fraud, unless you declare to the government what you have done, however before the road tax changes it would only be the insurance company you needed to tell.

    However in the days of the twin carb it was easy enough for the buyer to see engine changes, but with a software change there is nothing the user can see, so one may have a car which has been altered without knowing, or you may have altered the car and claimed you don't know.

    So on buying a new car, should one get the software tested? As even if it has been altered your unlikely to have a problem unless there is a fatal crash only then would anyone look.
  2. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    It is only in really rare occurrences do vehicles get checked to that degree. Typically this is when someone has been involved in a fatal accident and high speed or dangerous driving has been suspected. In either cases the insurance company of the driver have the right to cancel any "comprehensive" element of the policy and will only meet the statutory third party costs.
    Technically even changing a radio or media player in a car is notifiable to insurance companies let alone engine remapping, non standard exhausts, wider or lower tyres etc.
    We had an issue with purchasing a car that had been modified that we didn't notice and it only came to light when a firm came to fit a "black box" to my sons car. Apparently, a previous owner had changed the Vauxhall alloys with an after market version but had placed the centre Vauxhall caps on the new rims, so they looked standard. It was only that the fitter was a bit of an anorak that he noticed.

    The DVLA is also unlikely to be interested in the tax avoidance issues unless a firm was making changes to their fleet.

    The main way it will be detected is either part of an annual MOT where the emissions may be higher than expected or be part of a main dealer service and any software remapping may get lost as part of an upgrade. With that, though the DVSA are increasing the number of roadside checks on vehicles for "adaptions" at the moment they are concentrating on vehicles with AdBlue override devices and the usual "red diesel" .
  3. joinerjohn1

    joinerjohn1 Screwfix Select

    Legal minefield these days. Insurance companies terms include " modification" . If an engine management system has been re-mapped, then this will be deemed a " modification" from the manufacturers original specification. Would you, should you risk it ? Knowing some twit could pull out of a side street and wreck your car, yet you could be deemed to have no insurance, because you failed to notify them the EMS had been re-mapped ?
  4. CraigMcK

    CraigMcK Well-Known Member

    In that instance I would doubt it would ever be checked and I would expect they would need to give a valid reason that the remap was fundamental to the accident occurring. There are a number of remap chips that piggyback over the original and can be unplugged to reset it back to normal.
    The reality is who actually fits OEM tyres every time, is that deemed as a modification as it's not how the manufacturer supplied the car?
  5. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    There aren't any restrictions on changing brands. However, it must be of the same size and rating T, H, R etc, Even fitting knobbly tyres can not only invalidate your insurance but may also be illegal if it doesn't have the correct markings. And of course all tyres have to be of the correct pressure.
  6. kitfit1

    kitfit1 Well-Known Member

    Interesting thread this, because i fall into both a software alteration and a hardware alteration. This is for a motorbike by the way. I have a Ducati 1098s that has a full Termi race exhaust system and has also had a custom re-map of the ECU done on a Dyno.
    My insurance company is fully aware that the bike has a full race exhaust system, so by logic is also aware that by fitting that exhaust system the ECU has to be re-maped and charges a premium on my insurance for it. The really odd thing though is that the Termi's have "Not for road use" stamped on them, but it has passed every MOT since i've had the bike.................................go figure :D
  7. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    A bit of a slip up by the MOT station. If you were stopped by a Traffic cop he could notice the stamp and issue either a fixed penalty or more like a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice (VDRN) Which means you would have to fit road legal exhausts back on the bike and get it verified by an MOT centre - The MOT centre will be more stringent as they have to stamp the VDRN

    I wouldn't bank on the insurance company supporting you as they cannot lawfully knowingly insure a non road legal vehicle. I think they will claim that you didn't tell them that the exhaust wasn't road legal.

    It is quite a common thing for a vehicle to be stopped because it has been modified. When the insurance company is contacted at the roadside incident and the modifications explained over the phone, they will normally say they would not have insured the vehicle had they been made fully aware. The problem then is that insurance policy is deemed to have been invalid ( and that drops the driver into a whole lot more bother for not only having a potentially defective vehicle but driving without insurance as well. At this point the Police aren't allowed to issue a VDRN and if the owner can't arrange an almost immediate recovery the vehicle is seized.
  8. kitfit1

    kitfit1 Well-Known Member

    Was waiting for someone to come up with a reply like this.

    The bike i mentioned was not the first Ducati 1098s i have owned. The first one was identical to the one i own now, the first one though was stolen out of my garage about 5 years ago. The same insurance company that my current bike is insured with paid out the full amount including the cover for the full race exhaust system at the time. I have spoken to them in depth since then, they are more than happy to insure the bike fully comp on the road with all the mods. The bike has a full MOT and is road legal, the exhaust has "not for road use" stamped on the underside, but is covered with tape that makes it unreadable. Neither the police or MOT station is allowed to remove that tape. That's why insurance company's are 100% happy to insure mods, as long as you tell them in the first place and pay any premium they load on.
    Squashrobinson likes this.
  9. MGW

    MGW Well-Known Member

    I have no intention of modifying the car, however if it was modified before we bought it, how would I know, the performance of wife's car does not seem any different to son's, however since we don't use all the power, we would not know if there was extra.

    Would it come up in the bi-annual service, would it say anything on the phone app?
  10. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    Having impounded many bikes and cars for being non road legal my statement stand.
  11. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    If you took the car to a conscientious main dealer, they would normally test the engine management system and note any changes. Some will contact you to see if you want it changed back, some will just change it. The last time I took my Leon in for a service, the ECU was updated as well as the Sat Nav. I wasn't asked but there was a nice little "extra" on my service bill
  12. MGW

    MGW Well-Known Member

    Then I will assume now under a service plan, the Jaguar XE will be tested and corrected during the service? Seems have to wait until March for that, only serviced every 2 years, had the owner registration changed now, so know previous owner can't track the car or turn engine on/off remotely. It was not getting wife's phone paired to car that we wanted so much, we can actually get up and open car to see how much fuel is left or start engine to warm up car, but did not want some one else to be able to control car from smart phone.

    Car has even been named after a previous cat.

    I suspect the car has not been modified, but when I read reports on a caravan forum I realised it is quite common for people to "Chip" their cars to get more BHP for towing, mainly seemed to be VW owners and VW has a history of fiddling the engine management in their cars, even the manufacturer does it, so can't really expect owners not to follow the example set.

    However before the tax was set on the emissions, then as long as you told the insurance there was not really a problem, however today we have a very different situation, when my Kia Sorento needs replacing I will have to select a far smaller car, as with the economy of that engine the road tax today is silly, specially when only used to tow caravan. I like driving the large 4x4 but it's days are numbered, and son's Jaguar XE may be a 4x4 but it's not any where near as good for towing a caravan.

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