Last Updated on November 11, 2020
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.
When you modify your exhaust system, remember you can always pick up a whole new system from a junkyard for relatively little money.
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.
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”.
#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 catback 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 catback 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!
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. 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!