Last Updated on January 4, 2023
You know that buzzing, revving sound you hear when a car is at a stoplight? That sound of BWAAAAAAAAAA *shift* BWAAAAAAA when a car starts to go faster on the highway?
How about when you go to a NASCAR race and the sound of the motors flying by sounds like an actual hurricane making landfall? Why do you need earplugs when you sit in on your buddy’s dyno session?
That, my friend, is a loud exhaust system and it’s actually a lot easier to do than you think.
What Does an Exhaust System Do?
Your exhaust system on your car is very important. It gives the by-product of combustion, exhaust, a place to go. During the combustion cycle, fuel and air mix and are then ignited by your spark plug.
As this explosion propels the cylinder through its cycle, the excess fuel particles and other bits need a place to go. This place is the exhaust system, which is opened up by a valve in the actual cylinder itself.
Your exhaust system is engineered from the factory to be quiet, efficient, and also as environmentally friendly as is possible. Every country has a maximum allowable Greenhouse gas emissions marker, and every automaker needs to meet these regulations in order to import their vehicle for sale.
These emissions are consistently monitored by your O2 sensor, which is usually placed inline with the catalytic converter. This will be important later.
When you modify your exhaust system, remember you can always pick up a whole new system from a junkyard for relatively little money.
See Also: Resonators vs Mufflers (Key Differences)
How to Make Your Car Exhaust Louder
#1 – Straight Pipe
One method, and the preferred bit by race car race boys, and people who want their truck exhaust louder is to just “straight pipe” that thing and get rid of the cat.
Straight piping is exactly what it sounds like, a simple tube that goes directly from the headers out the back end of the car. Straight pipes are extremely loud, smelly, sometimes illegal, and can spit amazing flames out the back of your car.
As a former straight-piped Rx8 owner, it is pretty awesome blasting through tunnels sounding like an F1 car as flames spit and backfire. It’s one of those novelty things that is pretty fun for a month or two but starts to get old really fast as a daily driver.
I will also add that you will forgo your O2 sensors when you use Straight pipes on your car and you’ll get a check engine light and may not pass emissions. Some tuners have ways around passing emissions, but we can’t recommend that here as it “WoUlD Be ILlEgAl”.
To be on the safer side, a muffler delete or resonator delete will give you some of the positives of a full straight pipe without some of the major negatives. But for the “go big or go home” types, a full straight pipe exhaust may be the answer.
#2 – “Cat-Back”
This is probably the most popular method of exhaust “loudening” as it is the cheapest and still allows you to use your stock catalytic converter, which means you won’t have to skirt around any laws, ECU reflashes, or blotting out your engine lights behind your dashboard.
Another benefit of the cat-back system is you most likely won’t get a crazy drone that becomes annoying when driving for longer than half an hour. You’ll get a deeper sounding exhaust sound and a more satisfying revving experience.
In my experience, if you’re going to go with a louder exhaust system, go with a cat-back as it’s easier to live with day in and day out.
#3 – Speakers
While there aren’t too many places that will do this for you in the aftermarket, many manufacturers nowadays will put microphones in their cars that amplify existing engine and intake sounds. Sometimes, they even wire in music that simulates engine sounds that don’t even exist in the engine bay or exhaust system.
There are some benefits to this, as the stock exhaust is engineered to be the most efficient from the factory, and modifying that could decrease your miles per gallon or cause you to fail an emissions test.
To me, I don’t think I would like it because I would always know that it’s a fake sound, but to each his or her own.
#4 – Headers
Headers are the octopus-looking tubes that come out of one, if not both sides of your engine block. They are the first point that your exhaust will exit the vehicle from, so it’s usually the first place a race car engineer will look for freeing up resistance in your car’s engine.
Since headers can improve flow, they will also change the sound of your car’s exhaust system and can even increase the horsepower!
I mention these headers last because they are usually pretty expensive and labor-intensive for the performance they deliver. Normally, you’ll do headers if you’ve turbocharged your car or have done the rest of the exhaust system already.
It’s more of a cumulative modification that can free up some ponies if you already have supporting mods.
#5 – Having a Hole in Your Exhaust
This may very well be the most popular exhaust loudness modification, albeit not always intentional. If your exhaust system has any sort of opening or leak in it, or you have a hole in your muffler, exhaust will escape having not been completely dampened by the piping, catalytic converter, and muffler.
This will cause your exhaust to sound much, much louder, and is the cheapest method available.
To accomplish this task, all you need is a drill, perhaps a hammer, and a perfectly good exhaust system. Now, take the drill and start poking holes in that muffler! Then, for good measure, make sure you smack the entire length of your system with the hammer. Presto!
See Also: Symptoms of an Exhaust Leak You Shouldn’t Ignore
Do Exhaust Tips Change My Car’s Sound?
I get this question a lot and no, unfortunately, the exhaust tips don’t change your car’s sound so your Dodge Neon sounds like a Dodge Charger Hellcat or Mercedes AMG GT. However, you can always get little whistles that go in the exhaust tips that will make your car seem like it has a turbocharger in it!
It’s not the most realistic mod, but as is the case with all mods, do what makes you the happiest. It’s also important to remember that it will never, ever matter what other people think about your ride.
There we go! A few different ways to make your exhaust louder, your mom prouder, your biceps larger, and your buddies envious!
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16 thoughts on “How to Make Your Exhaust Louder (for Every Budget)”
So you can hear your revs over the doofdoof box 🙂
This is a mental illness. It’s much like people who cannot stop getting face lifts. Bottom line is that you are all a bunch of A-holes who are ruining life for millions of people who have to put up with your mindless idiotic shenanigans at the expense of sleep, work, sanity and health.
Haha, I’m not quite sure I get the face lift comparison but I see what you’re saying.
In my mind, a car should only be deafeningly loud if it’s a (very) high horsepower car, intended for off road use only, and needs to eliminate every restriction to maximize airflow and power. You can still have tons of power at a reasonable volume. Rattling the windows of the kids across town with your straight piped four cylinder doesn’t win you any cool points.
I guarantee my straight piped chevy cruze is still quiter then the lifted truck driving at 2 am every night and clearly my car is worth more then your opinion on the matter because I actually wanted a car 🙂
And I’m sure whatever poor soul that has to put up with you is begging for the trucks exhaust to rev in their ear right about now after having to put up with you.
So why don’t you go give those opinions and hurt feelings to someone who actually cares.
Car mods are for the users enjoyment.
Meaning, we don’t care what you think about the civic blowing up your ears Karen.
We are laughing. Quite hard actually.
If your life can be ruined by a muffler (or lack, thereof)… was it even that good to begin with?
I personally like to change the exhaust alot on my cars, infact i probably hold a record for the most mufflers changed on one car, i have changed the muffler on my 2013 chevy spark probably more then 30 times.
Wow that’s a lot. Did you eventually find a tone you were happy with?
Their website even has an image of a child with his fingers in his ears! I know how he feels as I live on the London Road with pre-pubescent twerps pretending to be Lewis Hamilton while actually only doing 30mph. How causing misery can make anyone happy is beyond my comprehension.
“Causing misery” is an over exaggeration. Do you hear yourself?
I’m all for fun – but what fun is there in subjecting members of the public who may be very old or indeed very young to extremely distressing decibel levels? I live on what used to be the old A5. One twat per week would be understandable but one twat every 5 minutes is becoming intolerable. I may just retaliate with a very loud bang of my own. Just grow up would ya?
THANK YOU! Great response Andrew. I am 64 years old with extreme anxiety and I’m on this website to see how turn that drives by my house numerous times a day in a car that has obviously torked his muffler or something. It startles me and I jump every time. It is illegal and very hard on our neighborhood – SHAME ON YOU!
For me I want a car that sounds like a Range Rover. But I can’t afford a Range Rover yet 🙂
I know exactly how you feel!
But why? Seriously …. like little attention seeking toddlers.
To be honest, I’m not sure. I like a tasteful exhaust note you can hear with the windows up but lots of people go way overboard with it.
Because why the **** not, if you hear my big ***** rolling down the road at you get outta my way. With a quiet exhaust that can’t be done.