It has been quite the hectic week for the 4x4 community, as well as the Land Transporation Office (LTO). But it looks like the heated debacle between the two may soon cool down.

Recently, the Department of Transporation (DOTr) together with the LTO, have officially stated that they are not 'arbitrarily and subjectively apprehending owners of modified vehicles'. This comes after we published a story wherein modified 4x4 vehicles were flagged down over certain accessories like LED light bars, steel bumpers, lift kits and different wheel sizes.

In fact, the LTO mentioned that only one modified vehicle was impounded during their most recent operation held in NLEX. The reason for the vehicle to be impounded by the LTO was that it was not registered.

However, the LTO did mention that they must implement existing laws that ensure modified vehicles are safe for use on the road. The modification of a motor vehicle is defined by Department Order (DO) No. 2010-32, Harmonization of Motor Vehicle Classifications of LTO and LTFRB. The DO is aligned with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-NCE), the same standard being used by ASEAN countries.

Under Section 5, Number 5.2 of the Order, “The modifications involving safety and environment shall not be allowed, such as the following: axle modification; chassis modification; extended chassis/body; additional siding of dump trucks; extended overhang; change of rim size; modification of handle bar and muffler; and reconfiguration of body dimension and design.”

According to the LTO, modifying or changing a vehicle's existing design is allowed, provided that a Certificate of Road Safety from the manufacturer can be presented by the owner. This will prove that the modification does not, in any way, compromise safety. This is also subject to physical inspection by the LTO for possible reclassification.

The LTO also noted that tampering with a vehicle's engine performance, drivetrain, suspension, wheels and brakes, fall outside of the approved parameters or its basic components. On the other hand, changes on the exterior and interior of a vehicle are allowed for as long as the existing design does not compromise safety.

The DOTr-LTO appreciates the ongoing dicussion regarding the matter. In the spirit of transparency and good governance, both the DOTr and LTO are open for a dialogue where recommendations and suggestions can be suggested and discussed.