How to Make Your Car a Little Louder (For Free!)
By: Leon Rhodes
How a car sounds is important to enthusiasts that take pride in how their cars look and perform. If you are searching for a low buck method to give your car a louder, more powerful and throaty sound that is reversible(not permanent) read on.
First a note about safety. Exhaust gasses are hot and toxic so perform the following exhaust sound mod while the vehicle is cold. Additionally, this mod should only be done at the end of the exhaust system and exhaust gasses should be directed downwards, towards the ground.
Never perform this mod in a way that allows exhaust gas to be pointed towards the vehicle(or any component), the heat generated can cause damage. This modification, although common and popular among the street crowd, can also impact the performance of engines requiring significant back pressure.
Lastly, do not perform this mod on vehicles with rust holes, if you smell exhaust while driving immediately roll down the windows and get out as soon as possible for your safety.
The goal of this sound mod
The goal is to turn up the exhaust sound volume without damaging any components or spending money on new performance exhaust parts. This can be done to almost any vehicle that has a traditional exhaust system with muffler.
I personally do not recommend doing it unless you just want a louder sounding car for a specific event, if you are looking for a permanent solution it's probably better to just buy a louder exhaust system.
Think about it, you can spend a lot of money on a louder muffler that doesn't restrict exhaust gas flow as much as a stock muffler or, alternatively, you can keep your stock muffler and allow a small amount of exhaust gas to bypass it. I think you'll agree that the later is more cost effective(and reversible!).
Tools you will need
To complete this car sound modification you will need an impact wrench(or a long handled socket wrench), a socket that fits your exhaust muffler bolts, a hack saw(or similar power saw) and a muffler spacer. Muffler spacers are usually available at your local auto parts store.
Optional equipment that makes the mod easier to perform is a jack and jack stands. If you hoist up the vehicle make sure it is properly supported and that the wheels are blocked to prevent rolling before getting under it.
Step #1 - Remove the muffler
Most late model mufflers are connected to the exhaust system with a flange and connecting bolts. If you have an older vehicle the muffler may be clamped on or even welded on, in which case this mod won't work. To remove the muffler from your vehicle find the mounting flange bolts and remove them.
If your muffler also has a hanger holding it in place the hanger will be connected to a rubber grommet, disconnect the hanger from that grommet.
Step #2 - Modify the spacer
This mod works by inserting a modified spacer between the muffler and the exhaust pipe to allow a small amount of exhaust gas to escape before it reaches the muffler. Many vehicles already have a spacer where the muffler connects to the exhaust pipe but if yours doesn't you can find one in most automotive shops, they don't cost much.
Using your hack saw(or power saw) cut a half inch section from the exhaust spacer, between the bolt holes(do not cut out any bolt holes). Visualize how the spacer will fit within the flange and do your best to remove only the section which will be pointed towards the ground.
Step #3 - Re-install the muffler with spacer
With your modified exhaust spacer in place, cutout facing downward, re-install your muffler like normal. Again, make sure the opening you've created in the spacer next to the exhaust muffler faces downwards towards the ground.
That's all there is to it. The sound your exhaust system makes will be a little louder as exhaust gas escapes from the gap in your spacer. The best thing about this mod is that it does not damage any exhaust components and is completely reversible by removing the spacer.
For Advanced Users
If your fabrication skills are up to the job you can modify a piece of 1/4 inch steel and make your own adjustable spacer. With an adjustable spacer you will no longer need to remove the muffler, only loosen the bolts, slide the spacer to an open or closed position, and tighten the bolts again.
Many mufflers aren't connected with mounting bolts, instead they slide into a collar and a clamp is used to tighten the two together. If that's the case with your muffler you can modify a wide collar clamp by cutting a hole in it and sliding it between the muffler and the rest of the exhaust.
This may move the stock location of the muffler by 2-3 inches so make sure there is room before you start.
Simply loosen the clamp and slide it out of the way when you want the car to sound louder.
Why this mod works
The sound mod intentionally creates a space in the exhaust system to allow a small amount of exhaust to bypass the muffler. Mufflers are designed to reduce noise by redirecting airflow around a series of baffles, by creating a partial exhaust bypass you allow the exhaust sound to escape, loudly.
No permanent damage is done to the exhaust system, no holes in the muffler cut and nothing done that cannot be reversed easily.
By playing with the size of the opening in your exhaust spacer you can modify how much louder your car becomes. The cost is minimal, the mod can be performed in an afternoon and the process is completely reversible so no new parts are needed.
Because this mod is performed at the very rear of the car, with care to direct the flow of exhaust away from the car, the risk is minimal. Still, the best part about this mod is that you can make the car louder as needed and return it to normal for every-day driving conditions.
The sound mod is free, it makes your car rumble and makes your exhaust sound deeper and the best part, it's reversible. No need to buy anything and you control whether your car is a little louder, or a lot.
Do exhaust tips change exhaust sound?
Yes, exhaust tips are another option if you are looking for a way to make your car a little louder. Because they are located after the muffler the effect is minimal and, of course, they aren't free but, they do change the exhaust sound.
Do exhaust tips add overall horsepower?
No, exhaust tips do not increase the total horsepower of an engine. They don't free up the flow of exhaust gasses and have no mechanical advantage over a car without tips. In some naturally aspirated turbo situations they can create additional back-pressure but the effect is minimal.
Does a louder exhaust use more fuel?
No, the number of decibels created by the exhaust has no impact on the fuel consumption of the engine. A louder exhaust is typically less restrictive of exhaust flow but the total amount of fuel used to maintain the same RPM is the same, however, it can be used more efficiently.