For some drivers, the noise of a standard engine holds no comparison to the intense roar of a modified one. It is common for thrill-seeking drivers to make customizations to reach that desired roar, which is often achieved by modifying the muffler. How loud your engine is will depend on the type of modification you make (i.e.using an exhaust tip). Whatever your desired decibel, there are limitations to how loud your engine can be. Although modifying a muffler to enhance the engine’s sound is legal, there are laws that regulate the decibels a vehicle can put out and the type of modifications that can be made. If you prefer to have a less noisy engine, while still having vehicle performance consider upgrading your engine with an affordable performance chip instead of costly modifications.
Noise Pollution State & Federal Laws
At this time, there are no Federal laws that state a universal limit for how loud your engine can be. To determine if your engine is too loud, you must refer to your state laws. Every state sets different restrictions on the decibels a car is allowed to reach. States like Texas, New Mexico, and Minnesota prohibit the use of any muffler modification that causes excessive noise. States like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, are less lenient and prohibit modifications that increase the decibels above what the factory muffler puts out.
More objective states such as California, Oregon, and Nevada, determine how loud your engine can be according to factors including vehicle weight, the distance the noise travels, and the year of the vehicle. For example, California requires vehicles under 6,000 lbs, not including motorcycles, to have a sound level of 95 decibels (dbA) or less. On the other hand, Oregon measures the engine noise level according to the year of the car. In Oregon, if a vehicle was manufactured before 1976, the top decibel allowed is 92 dbA. For any vehicle manufactured after 1976, the top decibel is 88 dbA.
However slight the difference, it is important to be aware of the specific laws according to your state. In some states, certain counties put noise pollution ordinances in place, furthering the restrictions of state laws. Local laws may include ordinances stating time restrictions in which a vehicle with a loud exhaust system can be operated. Knowing your state and local laws on how loud your engine can be will save you the inconvenience of pricey citations.
Why’s Noise Pollution Regulated?
Many of the methods used to amplify the sound of an engine can be dangerous for the driver and others on the road. Other than excessive noise being a distraction to other drivers and pedestrians, a modified muffler can cause more air pollution and release clouds of exhaust that affect surrounding vehicles. Disoriented pedestrians or drivers can lead to tragedy in a matter of seconds. State and local laws are put in place to try and prevent such occurrences. When it comes to safety, having a loud engine takes a back seat.
Why Drivers Enjoy Their Noise Pollution
For some drivers, a car is more than a way to get from point A to point B. It is an extension of their personality and a way to make a statement. It is a way to feel sporty and powerful. For those who enjoy a loud engine, there is the satisfaction that comes from the loud, deep rumble it creates. But there are benefits of a modified engine other than the noise. Modifying an engine can increase the horsepower of a vehicle. It may not be a significant change, but enough for the driver to feel the difference.
A modified engine can also affect the acoustics inside the cabin of the car, giving the driver the ability to hear the ideal moment to shift. Experiencing the acoustics of a perfect shift adds to the excitement of a loud engine. Regardless of the primary reason drivers want a loud engine, the undeniable fact about thrill-seeking drivers is that they like attention.
Increase Your Vehicle’s Engine Performance
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