California Exhaust Noise Regulations Are Ridiculous

Estimated read time 3 min read

A recent case highlights why.

If you live in California and are a gearhead, we’re sorry. Also, you probably already know about how the state has been enforcing its regulation of no cars on public roads emitting exhaust noises over 95 dB as a way to combat noise pollution. Some people really love this law because they believe all vehicles should be whisper quiet. However, many performance cars right out of the factory struggle to meet this standard, including one man’s Hyundai Elantra N.

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This guy, who has posted about his ordeal on Reddit, was pulled over by a police officer for violating the regulation recently. In the dashcam footage he uploaded to YouTube, you can hear the Hyundai’s exhaust but in our opinion it isn’t overly loud. Still, it triggered the device in the officer’s car, so the man had to have his brand-new vehicle with a factory exhaust system and zero modifications inspected.

While the Elantra N passed the state smog test no problem, it failed the exhaust test. Instead of staying at or below the 95 dB standard, it read a maximum 102 dB and an average of 98 dB. Take a moment to process this: California’s laws are so strict that you can buy a car right off a dealer’s lot and get cited for it being too loud, even though you changed nothing about it.

This kind of thing has happened before, particularly with Shelby GT350 owners complaining they received citations right after the regulation enforcement launched. Cops wouldn’t believe their claim the exhaust on their ride was stock and they often got the runaround trying to get it to pass inspection after picking up a citation.

Going back to the Hyundai owner, he said he got a letter from the dealership certifying his vehicle isn’t modified in any way. They suggested he install a muffler silencer, then remove it after the car passes inspection. However, a police officer could still cite him later, then he’s back to the same process.

While the guy has reached out to Hyundai corporate for help, he doesn’t sound too hopeful about the outcome. He mentioned in his post about taking the issue to court. It seems like California is intent on chasing law-abiding car enthusiasts from the state, like this guy. We know moving from one state to another can be a huge decision, but it looks like things in the Golden State are only going to get worse.

Check out the Reddit post here.

Images via Hyundai

Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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