How to Make Your Car's Exhaust Louder

In this article we are going to take a look at alterations that can be made to make your exhaust louder and give it a more authentic engine sound. In modern cars there are so many additions that are designed to quiet the natural engine noise but some people crave the organic roar of the internal combustion engine.

Is it Legal to Make Your Exhaust Louder?

Before we launch into your options to make your exhaust louder let's get the legalities out of the way first. You may not be concerned about this part but we would be remiss if we didn’t warn you of any potential legal issues you might face down the line.

Many of the options in this article are perfectly legal for the most part. It should be noted however that some states are more strict than others so you should review your specific state laws before making any modifications.

In several states removing components of the exhaust system related to limiting emissions is very much illegal and you could get in trouble. Also modifications made to the exhaust that create bad emissions may lead to you not being able to register your vehicle in certain states.

As a final word of warning if you do not have the skills to perform modifications yourself make sure you get a professional to make these modifications. If you get something wrong you could inadvertently allow exhaust fumes to enter the cabin of your vehicle and this could be a deadly mistake.

Methods for Making Your Exhaust Louder.

There are a few options when it comes to getting extra sound from your exhaust and they can vary when it comes to price and complexity. As mentioned some are perfectly legal while others could land you with fines depending on which state you live in.

Drill Holes in the Exhaust

Easily the most inexpensive way to get extra exhaust sounds it is however also the least recommended method. The reason for this is that it creates an exhaust leak which is something you would ordinarily want to avoid.

It is a pretty simple process and requires that you use a 3/8” drill bit to drill 4 – 6 holes in your exhaust pipe. This should be done after the catalytic converter but before the muffler. Ideally then your emissions will have been cleaned by the catalytic converter but not silenced by the muffler.

The big drawback is that it allows exhaust fumes out of the system early and they can inadvertently be drawn back into the car via the air circulation which may expose you to harmful gases. Also even running through the catalytic converter may not be enough to avoid failing a smog test if you do drill your exhaust.

In terms of cost this could be done for free but will likely cost no more than $25. It is the budget option for sure but by far not the best option you have available.

Remove the Muffler

The job of the muffler is to literally intercept and stifle the sound waves being created by the exhaust. Most of that natural engine roar is muted by the muffler. If you remove this part then you will get a much louder and more naturally sounding exhaust.

This is not an easy option as you will have to replace the muffler with an extra section of exhaust pipe or you would be releasing the exhaust under the car and not out of the back. This will require some welding skills although if you can get exhaust clamps you may be able to avoid needing to weld.

It should be noted that certain US states expressly forbid this kind of modification and the evidence that you have done so is blaringly obvious. You may be pulled over by police for a loud exhaust and if they see you have removed the muffler you could be in legal trouble

This is not a very expensive option ranging between $20 - $45 to complete. Make sure it is legal in your state though or it could cost you later in fines and penalties.

Install an Exhaust Tip

For those looking for just a little boost in engine noise this might be a good option. It won't give you a roaring exhaust sound but it may up it slightly. Exhaust tips are also known as resonators and they have the opposite effect than a muffler.

A muffler bounces the sound waves around to silence them whereas the resonator or exhaust tip vibrates them creating a different sound. This is an easy modification as the exhaust tip can simply clip on to the end of your tailpipe.

Costing in the region or $35 - $65 this modification mainly alters the sound but does not boost it that much. It does however add somewhat to the looks of your car.

Install an Aftermarket Exhaust

We will now jump up a little in terms of price and technical difficulty to give you an option for making a big change to your exhaust sounds. The exhaust your car came with was designed to be quiet so sometimes your best option is to replace the whole system.

The standard exhaust is going to be restrictive but an aftermarket exhaust does not need to be. You can purchase an exhaust that is specially designed to be louder and more natural. This can be a tricky choice however because you not only need an exhaust that meets your sound goals but also one that is suitable for your car.

A better aftermarket exhaust can not only boost your engine noise but it may even improve your car's overall performance. When you remove airflow restrictions you get a lot of benefits. Again however you must make sure that this modification would be street legal in your state.

Replacing the exhaust may cost between $250 - $1500 so this is a pricey option but it may be the most legitimate way to get what you want.

Straight Pipe Exhaust

This is a popular option that is very common in motor racing due to increased performance potential. Essentially this method means doing away with the catalytic converter, resonator and the muffler. Instead you have a straight uninterrupted exhaust pipe directly from the engine.

This gives you an unaltered engine sound but it does also mean you have no way of cleaning your car's emissions which can be highly illegal in some states. Again this kind of modification is hard to miss so if it isn’t legal where you live do not do this.

You will likely need to tune your car to get the best out of this method but if you do you might find an increase in engine power as well as sound. In terms of cost not factoring in the cost of tuning your engine a straight exhaust might cost $450 - $1250 to fit.

Remove the Catalytic Converter

This method creates a little more engine sound but not as much as removing the muffler. As a result the modification may fly under the authorities' radars in terms of you having a loud car. The idea is simply bypassing the catalytic converter by using a downpipe or a fitting pipe.

Obviously removing the catalytic converter from the equation may render the vehicle not road legal in many states. It certainly would fail emissions tests which if they are mandatory in your state may be an issue.

The complexity of this modification will also require you to reprogram your car's electronic control module to ignore the fact that the exhaust O2 sensors will be registering issues with the catalytic converter.

This modification can cost between $50 - $350 and will make your vehicle bad for the environment.

Use a Performance Muffler

You can choose to replace your muffler with a performance muffler which is designed to limit its sound dampening ability. It will dampen the engine sound somewhat but not as much as most factory mufflers would.

The performance muffle is also designed as the name would suggest to boost your engine's performance. In some states these types of mufflers may not be legal but in terms of legality you would catch less heat using one of these than by removing the muffler completely.

This is not too expensive an option costing roughly $65 - $150 depending on your car.

Install a Turbocharger

This is likely one of the more expensive options to get a louder exhaust but it has other benefits as well so it is worth considering. This generally works by vastly increasing your engine's power making it sound better overall and slightly increasing your exhaust sounds.

A turbocharger adds more air to the combustion chambers which can boost horsepower and torque. There will be no change to the exhaust system itself as this is an engine modification. If all you want however is increased engine sound this might be a little overkill.

Ranging from $400 - $3000 to fit a turbocharger you should only do this if you also want to increase your engine power and get a sportier sound.


There are a few good options for getting a louder exhaust and a few that you may try at your own risk. The price can vary for these modifications as can the legality. Make sure you know your options and of course your local laws.

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