Other Laws

Illinois Required Vehicle Equipment Laws

To be a safe driver, a vehicle must be properly equipped and in good working order. It is illegal to drive a vehicle that may be a hazard to any person or property.

Required Equipment

A motor vehicle must have the following working equipment:

Brakes

Vehicles must have two brake systems and brakes on all wheels. The foot brake must be strong enough to stop a vehicle traveling at a speed of 20 mph in 30 feet. The emergency or parking brake must be strong enough to stop the vehicle in 55 feet at the same speed.

The emergency brake also must be able to hold the vehicle on a grade or hill. Motor-driven cycles need only one brake.

Headlights

Vehicles must have two headlights and they must be on from sunset to sunrise and be used in times when rain, snow, fog or other conditions require the use of windshield wipers. They also should be used when objects 1,000 feet away cannot be seen. Bright lights must be dimmed 500 feet before meeting an oncoming vehicle or 300 feet before passing a vehicle.

Motorcycles and mopeds require a headlight, which must show objects 500 feet ahead, and be turned on whenever the vehicle is driven.

Taillights

Vehicles must have two red lights visible for 500 feet from behind. Only one taillight is needed for mopeds and motorcycles.

Turn signals

Vehicles, except motorcycles, trailers and semitrailers, must have right and left-turn signals on the front and rear visible from 300 feet.

License plate light

Vehicles must have a white light making the license plate readable from 50 feet away and must be on when headlights are on.

Parking lights

Front and rear parking lights are required for any vehicle stopped on a highway at night. Some local communities may allow unlighted night parking on streets.

Safety Belts

Passenger vehicles must have two sets of safety belts in the front seat. Vehicles manufactured in 1965 or after may not be sold or operated in Illinois without safety belts.

Mirrors

One rearview mirror is required so the driver can see at least 200 feet behind the car.

Windows

All window glass must be approved safety glass. The windshield must be free of snow, ice, moisture and any defects that distort vision. All glass must be free of obstructions between the driver and front or rear windows.

Tinted windows are not allowed on the front windshield. A 6-inch strip of tinting is allowed along the entire length at the top of the front windshield.

Wipers

Wipers must operate properly to clear ice, snow and moisture.

Horn

Vehicles must have a horn that can be heard from 200 feet. Sirens, whistles and bells are allowed only on authorized emergency vehicles.

Muffler

A muffler must be on the exhaust system to prevent excessive noise and smoke. Cutouts, bypasses and changes to the system to increase noise are illegal.

Bumpers

Vehicles weighing 9,000 pounds or less and all recreational vehicles must have a front and rear bumper. It is illegal to alter the suspension system of a vehicle to lift the body from the chassis frame in excess of 3 inches. The horizontal line from the front to the rear may not vary over 3 inches.

Restricted Equipment

  • Projecting Loads — Loads extending 4 feet or more to the rear of a vehicle must be marked with a red flag during the day. At night or when visibility is poor, the vehicle must have a red light visible for 500 feet.
  • Back-up lights — Vehicles may have one or more backup lights; however, they may not be on when the vehicle is moving forward.
  • Spotlights — Only one spotlight is allowed on a vehicle. When approaching another vehicle, it must be directed neither to the left nor more than 100 feet ahead. A vehicle may not have more than four 300 candlepower lights burning.
  • Flashing or moving lights — Flashing or moving lights other than turn signals or hazard indicators are prohibited, except for police or designated emergency vehicles.
  • Red lights — Red lights visible from the front are prohibited, except for police or designated emergency vehicles.
  • Running board lights — Limited to one on each side and must be non-glare white or amber lights.
  • Cowl or fender lamps — Only two lights are allowed and must be non-glare, white or amber lights.
  • Studded Tires — Pneumatic tires with metal studs are illegal except for vehicles used by mail carriers in rural areas between November 15 and April 1; vehicles displaying Persons with Disabilities or Disabled Veteran plates between November 15 and April 1 (owners must live on a county or township road in an unincorporated area); agricultural tractors or traction engines; agricultural machinery, including wagons, being used for agricultural towing purposes; or road-building machinery operated at a speed of less than 10 mph.
  • Televisions or Video — Televisions or video recording monitors that can be seen from the driver’s seat are prohibited while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Antique Vehicles — Special rules for lamps, brakes, lights (head, tail and stop lights) and turn signals apply to vehicles more than 25 years old. For more information, call the Secretary of State’s office at 800-252-8980 or visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
  • Radar Jamming Device — Possession and use of radar jamming devices is prohibited in all vehicles.

References and sources:

  1. Illinois Vehicle Code – Chapter 12: Equipment of Vehicles
This article about Illinois Required Vehicle Equipment Laws was last updated in 2018. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!