There is honestly nothing that’s more irritating than hearing a car with a loud exhaust ripping down your street. In fact, having an overly noisy exhaust is even illegal in some places. Fortunately, there are some ways you can quiet your car exhaust without losing performance. In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks on how you can make your car as quiet as possible.
As you all know, I try to post a lot about car soundproofing. I do that is because I know that many people find cars a bit difficult to work with and would rather let their mechanics do everything. And while sometimes that’s exactly the right thing to do — after all, you need to know when to step aside and let the professionals do their thing — sometimes, you can really do it yourself.
When we’re talking about noisy exhaust pipes, we’ve got a pretty mixed bag. Some of these solutions are fairly easy to implement. Still, others will need to be done by a professional. In fact, as I’ll repeatedly state throughout this article, delegation is important.
So, as always, before I explain how you can silence your car exhaust, let’s talk about what could be making it loud in the first place.
Why Is Your Car Exhaust So Loud?
The most obvious reason why your exhaust might be louder than others is the exhaust itself. That is, your car could be sounding off because your exhaust is either too powerful or too old.
Think of those sports cars you see on TV — luxury Supercars. That kind of makes them sound like the Kryptonian version of the Batmobile, but that’s beside the point. The point is that they’re incredibly powerful, which also makes them very loud.
As I have mentioned in some of my quiet product reviews, with more power comes more noise. However, some old cars have incredibly loud exhausts as well, which is mostly due to rust. Often, you can even hear the pipes jangling against the bottom of the car as they come loose. And of course, these cars also typically have an assortment of other things loose inside them, though you can eliminate many of those with some strategically placed sound deadening materials.
Fortunately, the opposite problems you would have as an owner of a Supercar or a beat-up truck actually have similar solutions. But I’ll get to those later. There is one more pretty significant issue that might cause your exhaust to act up: leaking.
How to Know If Your Exhaust Pipes Are Leaking
If your exhaust system was damaged, it may have holes somewhere along the way. The way you’ll know if this is the case with your car is by parking it for a while and checking to see if there are puddles or smoke under the car. Just make sure that your car can’t slip back and crush you. Find a flat area to do this on, and use the breaks.
Move from the front to the back of the car, checking to see if any of the parts are leaking. If you hear suspicious noises from your engine, it could be that there’s something wrong with your valve lifters. However, if you establish that the problem is, in fact, a leaking exhaust pipe, there’s a pretty easy way to fix it.
How to Quiet a Car Exhaust Without Losing Performance
Going by these common causes for a noisy exhaust, let’s try to solve them one by one. First, here’s what to do if you discover a hole in the exhaust.
1. Fix the Leak
You might think that patching a hole on something that gets as hot as an exhaust pipe would be a bit of a challenge, but it’s really not. All it takes is the right material. So, for this job, you’ll want to get your hands on heat-resistant epoxy.
You’ll be able to deal with smaller holes using this Permatex Epoxy stick (link to Amazon) or a heat wrap tape (Amazon). Just follow the instructions on the packaging. The products I linked to will take a few hours to completely cure, by which time they’ll be as hard as metal.
However, if you’re trying to plug a larger hole, that epoxy stick might not be enough. So you might want to opt for something like this Dynomax muffler cement (Amazon). While the first product only gives you 2 ounces, this one comes in a 16-ounce tube which should be enough to cover bigger holes.
Of course, you’ll need to thoroughly clean any rust off of the spots you’re treating before application. However, if your whole exhaust is riddled with holes or rust, it may be time to buy a new one.
2. Get a New Muffler
If you can hear your exhaust while you’re driving, you can be sure that people outside of the car are faring worse. Still, most cars do come with a solution for this. One crucial part of the exhaust system is the muffler, the part which envelopes the last part of the pipe before the opening. The muffler’s primary function is to make the exhaust quieter, and if it’s failing at that, it may be time to get a new one.
While I was researching ways to make your exhaust pipe quieter, I came across a YouTube video where the K-Tuned Universal 3-inch Muffler (Amazon) was installed on a Civic.
Although I’d much rather have a mechanic handle this kind of machinery, you can see how to swap out your muffler in the video. In addition, if you’d rather use something a bit cheaper and less sporty, you can go to Amazon and choose one of these.
Whichever product you end up going for, you’ll need to clean the area first, then work on taking the existing muffler off. If you’re not sure that you can do it alone, grab a friend or a mechanic.
3. DIY Soundproof Mufflers
The mufflers I have linked to are typically packed with sound deadening materials which dampen the exhaust noise as it travels through it. However, I’ve even seen someone pack their own muffler by opening it up and stuffing it with metal wool, steel scrubs, and fiberglass packing for motorcycle exhausts (Amazon).
You’ll want to stick to heat-resistant materials, as they did in the video below. But once again, I wouldn’t try to DIY this if you’ve never executed a similar project.
4. Buy a Silencer
One more product that can help you is a muffler silencer. These things basically narrow the hole through which the sound must pass through, thereby making it a bit quieter. They’re also incredibly easy to install: you just slip it into the exhaust pipe.
The guy who installed the K-Tuned muffler on the Civic used this Universal Muffler Silencer (Amazon). However, you can find a one that suits your own exhaust — you don’t need to buy a new exhaust. In addition, I’ve seen plenty of DIY solutions for this one too.
5. DIY Silencers
If you have two exhausts, you can try to plug one of them as seen in this video. As I have said, use homemade treatments at your own risk. However, since these videos did demonstrate a noticeable difference in the exhaust sound, I felt compelled to mention them. In the video I linked, the guy plugged one of his exhaust pipes with a jar lid and sealed it into the exhaust with epoxy.
Obviously, that solution only works if you have another exhaust pipe. But another video demonstrates how to make a muffler silencer that still allows air flow. They used a regular soda can, cut some of it back, and drilled nine holes in the bottom. Then, they stuffed it with steel wool, sprayed the bottom with black spray paint, and pushed it into the exhaust.
This was actually surprisingly effective, as you’ll see if you watch the video, so I had to mention it. Still, you’d be doing it at your own risk.
Some More Tips for Quiet Cars
Well, that’s about all you can do to alleviate your exhaust noise. However, if you’re still hearing it in the cabin, there are other things you can do to keep the noise from reaching you.
For example, you can soundproof your cabin by applying sound deadening materials to your car doors. Additionally, you can place soundproofing mats on the floor and the roof. This article will tell you which Dynamat material you can put where. If you want to completely strip your cabin down to the bare metal, you’ll be able to get all of the hard to reach places with sound deadening sprays.
And if you’re worried about the cost, there are some cheaper alternatives you can try too. Some of them are even on my list of the best automotive sound deadening materials.
Ultimately, anything you can do to lessen the amount of noise your car is making is a great thing to do. You’ll make sure that you’re not annoying anyone else, and have an overall more enjoyable time while you’re driving.
So there’s no excuse to keep driving with a loud exhaust. After all, there are so many ways to make it quieter without costing you performance. In fact, you may even discover that you’ve improved it!