How to Make Your Car Exhaust Quieter

Most cars that come straight from the manufacturer are designed to have a quiet exhaust system. 

So why would you ever need to know how to make your car exhaust quieter?  If you have a stock car and the exhaust has suddenly started to become a lot more audible, you may have a problem. 

The most common problem with a stock car with a loud exhaust is some sort of exhaust leak. 

An exhaust leak is simply a leak somewhere in the exhaust system of your car that is letting sound out.  The exhaust leak can be so bad that it can sound like a lawnmower.

If you purchased a used car and it’s loud, to begin with, then this may be a totally different issue.  Some people actually like to modify their car exhaust to be louder. 

Crazy right?  Not really.  It is very common for people to modify the exhaust of sports cars, trucks, and SUVs. 

I’m a car enthusiast myself and have actually made my car’s exhaust system really loud because I think it sounds awesome.  If you aren’t a car enthusiast, then you will most likely be bothered by noisier car exhaust. 

A loud exhaust tends to cause what we call an exhaust drone on the inside of a car.  The drone is an annoying audible tone inside your car from the exhaust while you are driving.

Having a loud exhaust can really make or break your driving experience.  Instead of spending a lot of money by taking your car to a dealership, try taking a look at it yourself because it may be a simple fix. 

Here’s everything I know on how to make your car exhaust quieter and the most common problems to why it’s loud in the first place.

How to Check Your Car for an Exhaust Leak

The first step to fixing a noisy car exhaust is to identify if there is a leak.  What is an exhaust leak? 

Your car’s exhaust is a closed system that expels your car’s exhaust.  When there is a crack or a loose bolt this can cause a leak. 

A leak is when the exhaust is able to escape the system before reaching the mufflers.  When exhaust leaks out of cracks or the side of the exhaust, it will be very loud. 

This is usually due to the fact that the mufflers are not able to do their job effectively.

The first thing you need to do to check for an exhaust leak is to get your car high enough so you can get under it.

I personally like to use ramps instead of jacks to get my car elevated.  I use these rhino ramps to get my car into the air for monthly inspections as well as doing my own oil changes. 

There are a few rhino ramps to choose from, depending on the weight of your vehicle. 

I like to get a ramp that can hold well over my car’s weight just to be extra safe. 

If you don’t feel comfortable with your car on ramps, then you can even place jacks underneath your car once it’s already on the ramps for added safety.

Place the ramps behind your rear tires and back up into them.  Once your car is in the air, do a quick inspection underneath. 

Look for dark spots near the bolted ends of your exhaust.  The dark spots are usually soot from the exhaust, meaning there is a small leakage. 

A little soot is normal, but if you see thick chunks of it everywhere near openings, then you may need to replace an exhaust gasket or two.

Rev Your Engine and Look for Exhaust Soot

Once you have done your inspection while the car is off, go ahead and turn it on.  Go back underneath your car and have somebody rev your engine while it is in neutral. 

This is to see if you can hear a certain area that is very loud on your exhaust.  This can usually mean a cracked pipe or leak somewhere. 

You may also be able to see exhaust coming out from somewhere that it is not supposed to.  This usually means that there is an exhaust leak. 

To recap, look for exhaust coming out before the mufflers, black soot, and louder exhaust noises on certain parts of the exhaust.

Place a Rag over Your Exhaust

With your car on, go ahead and take a rag and cover up your muffler. 

Covering up your muffler will force exhaust to come out somewhere else if there is a leak.  You will be able to hear it audibly, and you may even see your exhaust start dripping. 

Here is a great video showing you how to check your car for exhaust leaks.

How to Fix an Exhaust Leak on Your Car

There are two main ways to fix an exhaust leak in your car.  The first way to fix an exhaust leak is to change out faulty exhaust gaskets. 

Gaskets help to create a nice seal to prevent any exhaust from leaking out.  The second way is to seal any cracks in the muffler and tailpipe. 

Let’s take a look more in-depth at each of these fixes to ensure a quieter exhaust system for your car.

Replacing Your Exhaust Gaskets

If you find an exhaust leak near the areas that are bolted together, then this most likely means you need to either tighten the bolts or replace the exhaust gasket. 

First, use a socket wrench to tighten down the bolts if they are loose. 

If the bolts are tight and you are still hearing or seeing exhaust from that area, then you may need to replace the gaskets.

A good quality gasket is usually made of high-quality metal and is heat resistant to prevent breaking. 

This exhaust gasket from amazon is perfect and is very cheap.  It also has an option for you to select the year, make, and model of your car to make sure that it will fit before you purchase it. 

You can save yourself a lot of money by fixing this yourself.

Seal Cracks on Your Muffler and Tailpipe

If your gaskets are not the problem, then you most likely have a crack somewhere along your muffler or tailpipe. 

This will be the area that is letting exhaust and noise leak through. 

The cheapest way to fix a crack or a hole in your muffler or tailpipe is to use something like this muffler and tailpipe sealer

The instructions on how to use this are pretty straightforward.  Clean the area with a wire brush to make sure you get all the soot, dirt, and debris off of the area. 

This is to ensure a good seal when you apply it to your muffler or tailpipe.

Once the area is very clean, you will then want to apply the sealer to a cool muffler or tailpipe.  You do not want to apply this sealer while your car is still hot, or it will not work correctly.

Once your sealer is applied, you will need to wait for it to dry.  The drying process takes about 30 minutes.  Once it is dry, you will then need to start your car for 10-15 minutes. 

This will heat up your muffler and tailpipe to complete the seal.

How to Check to See If Your Car Has a Loud Aftermarket Exhaust

Not all loud car exhausts mean you have a leak or a faulty gasket.  Aftermarket exhausts are notorious for being loud. 

This is mainly due to the less restrictive pipes and muffles installed that help car performance.  Most of the time, aftermarket exhausts are illegal and may even cause you to fail a smog test.

If you didn’t buy your car stock from a dealer, then there is a chance that your used car may have an aftermarket exhaust system. 

The first thing you can do to check if your car has an aftermarket exhaust system is to take it to an exhaust shop. 

Kindly tell the shop of your issue, and they may be able to take a quick look at your car to tell you if there is indeed an aftermarket exhaust system installed on your car.

If you don’t want to take it to a shop, then you can lift up your car yourself to take a look underneath. 

You will need to have a little bit of car knowledge to tell if the exhaust is stock or modified. 

Modified exhausts are usually titanium or stainless steel, while stock exhausts are usually made of a cheaper metal and do not look as good.

How to Make an Aftermarket Car Exhaust Quieter

The main way to make an aftermarket exhaust quieter is to install a silencer like this one

This is probably the hardest type of muffler to silence since you will need to know exactly what kind of aftermarket exhaust is installed on your car. 

You will then need to purchase a silencer that is specifically made for the model of your car’s exhaust.  If you just buy any silencer on the market it will most likely not fit, and you will waste your money. 

You may be better off replacing the entire exhaust system on your car if you are unable to find a silencer that will work for your car.

Another option you have is to take your car to a muffler shop.  A muffler shop can create or add mufflers to your car. 

Most of these shops specialize in custom mufflers, so creating one based on your needs should not be a problem.

Replace Your Car’s Entire Exhaust System

These are probably the most expensive and least convenient ways to quiet your car’s exhaust. 

You will first need to either take your car to a dealer or a third-party muffler shop.  Taking your car to a third-party muffler shop will be a lot cheaper than a dealer. 

If you take your car to an exhaust shop, make sure to tell them you are looking for the quietest exhaust possible for the lowest price.

If you go to a dealer for the same type of exhaust, you may end up paying close to double or triple the costs for parts and labor.

How to Reduce Exhaust Noise Inside Your Car

Maybe you don’t care about how loud your car is on the outside.  All you care about is the amount of exhaust noise that is going into the cabin of your car. 

Loud exhaust noises in a car can be very annoying if you have passengers since it can drown out conversation.  Not only can it drown out conversations, but it can also affect the sound quality of your music. 

So what is this exact noise called that comes into your cabin?

A loud exhaust system can usually cause a noise called an exhaust drone.  This is when your car’s exhaust can be heard at a very audible tone at a certain engine rpm, which is very annoying. 

The best way to help reduce the noise inside of your car is to install sound-deadening foam

Sound-deadening foam is used in cars for various soundproofing reasons. You can read my full article about reducing road noise in a car for a more in-depth guide.

Final Thoughts

The majority of ways to make your car exhaust quieter include: fixing old or worn-out gaskets, sealing cracks or holes in the exhaust system, replacing the exhaust system altogether, and soundproofing the inside of the floor of your car to help exhaust noise in the cabin. 

The option I would leave as the absolute last would be replacing your entire exhaust system.  This is the most expensive method you can do, but it can also be one of the most effective.

Depending on your budget, this option may not be readily available for you. Fixing an exhaust leak is fairly simple and doesn’t take the experience as a mechanic to repair. 

If you follow these simple steps, you should be able to make your car exhaust quieter without spending much money at all.