Have you ever been sitting down with your friends when you hear a car rip by and it takes your attention away? Of course you have! But when it comes to your own car, maybe it’s just not cutting it. I feel you, and I bet you think you need to shell out thousands of dollars and toss your keys to some shady mechanic to achieve that better sound.
But that’s not the case because, in this article, I’m going to go over some of the best ways to make your car sound better without having to fork over thousands of dollars on a new exhaust system! And read until the end because our last way is 100% free!
Probably the easiest and one of the cheapest ways to get more sound out of any car is to change up the air intake. From cheap drop-in filters to full intake systems. Not only will this modification produce extra sound, but also a little power too! Run to AutoZone, drop a couple bucks on a new filter, and listen to your shitbox roar! While it might not be much louder, it will add induction noise to any car and add turbo flutter to turbo cars, all for cheap cheap!
Stock airboxes or intakes are generally much more restrictive than aftermarket ones, and generally placed in an area with a large opening for easy access. The thing is that most times the factory airbox is very restrictive and it can actually cause you to lose horsepower! Not only that, but it will muffle the sound of the intake to keep the car quieter when accelerating.
Add yourself a drop-in filter from performance companies like K&N and, not only will you likely see a small performance gain, but you will also unlock a bit of intake noise. And for around $50, the added performance and sound might just make it worth it. But, if you truly want to maximize the power and sound, you’ve got to do a full intake system.
Full intake systems can typically run anywhere from $150 to about $300. But, not only do they sound better, they pick up anywhere from about 5 to 20 horsepower! So, regardless whether you just do a drop-in filter or a whole intake system, your car will sound better. But, once the air has gone into the engine, it’s got to come out of your engine through the headers or downpipes.
Headers or Downpipes
The heads of the engine determine whether your car has headers or downpipes. Most cars come from factory with a restrive exhaust manifold, merging all the exhaust ports as soon as possible. While this method is widely used, it’s definitely not the best for sound or performance. Add in a new downpipe or headers to really make your car purr. Pair the new collectors with high-flow cats and, man, will your car scream!
While downpipes and headers really help the sound, they aren’t the cheapest modification on this list. Generally, you will need at least $100 for downpipes and headers start at around $200. But this is generally where most of the noise from an exhaust is robbed, so change it out and listen to your car’s new howl!
From there, the exhaust flows into the midpipe, one of the most crucial places when it comes to tuning the sound of your car.
Once the exhaust gasses leave the headers or downpipes, where do the gasses travel to next? The midpipe, which is generally composed of the rear catalytic converters, resonators, or even crossover pipes if it’s a dual exhaust system. From simply deleting what’s there to adding additional pieces or changing pieces can dramatically affect the way your car sounds. Making the diameter of the pipe bigger can also change the sound too!
On a dual exhaust system, the midpipe generally houses a crossover pipe where both sides of the exhaust conjoin to even out the flow of exhaust gasses, which causes scavenging to help boost as much power as possible! Some crossovers include an H-pipe, X-pipe, double-H, double-X, and more!
Simply changing the type or number of crossovers can completely change the sound coming out of your engine. Adding resonators or deleting them can really change the tone of the car and make it feel much more exotic. Deleting rear cats always wakes up your car as well! All of these modifications can be done for less than $100! And while your crossover pipe and midpipe generally won’t affect the loudness of your car, the mufflers definitely will!
Mufflers are probably the most common type of exhaust modification. This is because most mufflers are cheap and universal. Just nail the exhaust diameter inlet and outlets and choose your muffler. You can even buy mufflers as cheap as $30! From a simple single chamber to more complex multi-chamber mufflers, chances are that you will be able to achieve a sound that you like with a simple muffler change.
Now, if you want your car to be louder for cheap, you will probably delete your muffler altogether. A muffler delete is a very common modification to a lot of car. And, while it sure can sound good, that’s not always the case. While most people think loud equals good, that’s not 100% true. Most people are much better off scouring the web and searching YouTube for clips of cars with aftermarket mufflers to suit their tastes.
And, unlike full exhaust systems that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, a simple muffler change will cost a fraction of a full system. Adding different mufflers can dramatically change the sound of your car and make it louder or even quieter, if that’s what you’re going for. But, don’t kid yourself, no one’s doing that.
Find a muffler that works well with your application and you won’t even have to hassle with any other of these modifications. While changing up a muffler probably won’t gain you any power or performance, it can sure make your car sound the way you want so that you can stand out from a crowd.
Generally, mufflers are placed near the end of your exhaust system but, when you’re changing them up, you can put them anywhere you’d like to achieve the sound that you are looking for. A great thing about mufflers is that there are so many different choices and styles to go for to alter your exhaust note. And, luckily, the same thing can be said about resonators.
Resonators? What are those? Well, they’re essentially straight-through mufflers with a perforated outer shell with packing and a solid outer casting. What? They just seem like more expensive mufflers starting at around $40. Yeah, I know it’s a bit confusing, but they only have one job: to eliminate rasp. While they’re able to do that, it typically takes away a bit of idle noise. But, if you ask me, that’s a small price to pay to get your rice rocket to sound beastly!
While most people throw their mufflers and resonators toward the end of the exhaust system, it isn’t actually the last thing that affects the sound in your exhaust; that’s the tips! The exhaust tips.
Surprisingly, your exhaust tips can change the sound of your exhaust! Changing the size or number of exhaust tips can really change the sound coming out of your car. Exhaust tips come in all different shapes and sizes, and changing them up can add an aesthetic appeal as well as a better sound! Get crazy and throw on some huge blast pipes or go subtle and stay small. The sound of your car will change completely.
Some exhaust tips are even resonated to reduce even more rasp, which can help a lot because your exhaust tips act like horns, as in they start small and end big to amplify the sound. And, most of the time, you can just hop on Amazon and find a new tip to fit your style for relatively cheap. But what’s more exciting than finding exhaust tips on Amazon is finding a whole entire exhaust system!
Used Exhaust Systems
Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and junkyards are all great spots to find yourself used exhaust systems made specifically for your car! Borla, Magnaflow, Flowmaster, and many other brands that cost hundreds or even thousands can be found for major steals! Sometimes, they even cost hundreds less than what they would cost to buy new. They still might not be super cheap, but they come with steep discounts of 50% to nearly 70% off new. That’s a win in my book!
What’s better than cheap? What about free? Sounds pretty good, right? Well, if you remove some or all of your sound deadening, you’ll add noise for free!
Removing Sound Deadening
Tear up your carpet, gut your interior, and make your way to your pesky sound deadening. Generally, it’s a piece of foam made to make the cabin of your interior quieter. Pull it out and you’ll hear more exhaust for free! Do I need to repeat myself? Free!
But, if you do gut your interior and remove your sound deadening, you will also hear more road noise, rocks hitting your car, and mechanical noises from your engine and transmission. But it’s free, so what more can you ask for?
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