Do Exhaust Tips Make Cars Louder?

Can exhaust tips make your car louder and if so, how will it sound? Here's a definitive guide that answers this exact question.

So, you want your car to be a bit louder? Well, there’s one cheap (ish) way to go about it: a new, specialized exhaust tip.

Resonating exhaust tips alter the noise your car makes, increasing the volume. They also decrease the pitch, giving your little-engined vehicle that James Earl Jones rumble.

This article will address exhaust tips. While they’re a low-cost way to modify your car (to a limited extent), there are certain things you should know. These include how the sound changes, the legalities of using them, and how much they cost.

Let us get started.

Table of ContentsShow

What Is An Exhaust Tip?

Exhaust Tip
Image credit: Ford

No prizes for correct guesses here. Exhaust tips fit onto the end of your exhaust – the ‘tip’.

Adding a tip changes the sound and, to an almost negligible effect, the exhaust gas flow.

They’re constructed using various materials, including steel and carbon fiber. The shape, bore, material, and general design all impact the resulting noise.

Exhaust tips are a popular choice for anyone wanting to modify their car without spending too much money. They won’t have any meaningful impact on your vehicle’s performance. However, they can produce a splendid noise.

Do you think your car could do with an exhaust tip? Read on before deciding!

Do Exhaust Tips Make Cars Louder?

Hearing Click Sound

Do you want to increase the noise your vehicle makes? Okay. So, does an exhaust tip make your car louder?

In short, yes. They can, at least. Resonating exhaust tips are usually specifically designed to make your car sound more aggressive.

They’re created in specific shapes and using carefully selected materials. When these reverberate as the exhaust gases pass through. It’ll sound quite different from your original!

What Kind Of Noise Do Exhaust Tips Make?

Exhaust Tips

This is a bit of a vague question. It’s a little like saying, “What noise does a wind instrument make?”

In wind instruments, the sound is always created in the same way: airflow causes vibrations. But each instrument is different. A clarinet, a flute, a saxophone, and a tuba sound nothing alike.

The same principle applies to exhaust tips. The shape, size, and material all influence the final noise.

If you want a better idea of the exact noise an exhaust tip makes, look for videos or audio clips of it. Ideally, it should be attached to the same make and model you have. If not, you can expect something similar, at least.

Do Bigger Exhaust Tips Mean A Louder Noise?

Akrapovic Exhaust Tips

Does a bigger exhaust tip mean a louder exhaust tip? Well, yes, in general. But not always.

Note: in engineering, “bore” refers to the inner diameter of a cylindrical shape. So, an exhaust pipe’s bore its inside diameter.

The bigger the exhaust tip is, the more the hot exhaust gases slow down (the flow rate reduces). As they do this, they expand into the space. This usually creates a louder noise.

For example, consider a small sedan or hatchback and its tiny exhaust. It doesn’t make any kind of exciting noise, right? Now, look at the back of a 2005 Impreza WRX STi. Notice a difference?

It’s important to note the words “in general” and “usually”. It’s not always true to say that bigger equals louder. It depends heavily on the shape and material, too.

The overall noise your car makes depends on a few factors, including:

  • Engine size
  • Engine speed (“revs” or “rpm”)
  • Exhaust system design (including whether you have a sports exhaust replacement)
  • Catalytic converter efficiency
  • Muffler design and type
  • ECU settings, chips, re-tunes, etc.
  • Road noise
  • Other rattles (suspension, engine mounts, etc.)

If you buy and install a resonating exhaust tip, it’ll add to and alter these noises somewhat. But you’ll need to address each of these elements to see more significant changes.

Are Exhaust Tips Legal?

Buying a car

Exhaust tips themselves are perfectly legal, especially if they decrease the noise your car makes. But that’s not why you’re reading this page, is it?

In the US, it depends on which state you live in. Learn more about the noise laws in each state by following this link.

In general, you can’t bypass a muffler. That’s okay in terms of exhaust tips, since they’re installed after this.

Significantly, you can’t drive a car emitting “unusual or excessive” sounds. Some states even have specific noise limits – a set number of decibels – and you’ll be in trouble if your car’s louder than this.

Noise curfew limits might also apply. If you often drive at night and your car’s loud enough to wake your neighbors up whenever you come home, it’s not very considerate.

Finally, a prominent exhaust tip invites law enforcement to pull you over. The bold, non-subtle types do look suspicious. Police officers are well within their rights to check you out and you might get a ticket.

So, yes – they’re legal. But don’t go too excessive. You’ll be asking for trouble.

Do Exhaust Tips Bring Any Kind Of Performance Upgrade?

High Performance

No. Your car will behave in precisely the same way as before.

There might be a slight, slight change in horsepower. This comes from marginally improved gas flow at the exhaust tip. But it’ll make such little difference that you won’t notice a thing.

For reference, a high-end performance exhaust – the entire system – can help improve performance by up to 10%. Up to. That has to be accompanied by other upgrades to the engine, ECU, and brakes, at least.

An exhaust tip is a fraction of a performance exhaust. It’s also at the very end of the pipes, meaning it really doesn’t influence the gas flow in any meaningful way.

Having said that, you might feel like you’re going faster. You aren’t, but the louder noise can give this impression. And if you’re having a little more fun but still going the same speed, then why not?

How Do You Attach Exhaust Tips?

Attaching Exhaust Tips

First, you must ensure the exhaust tip you buy fits your car. Before buying one, check the fit. For the most accuracy, look through online forums. You’ll no doubt find someone that’s attached an exhaust tip to your make and model before.

Collect your options and then narrow them down. Use factors like noise level, sound (YouTube!), and budget.

Some performance parts stores will allow you to input your make and model. That way, you can be sure it fits.

Finally, it’s worth measuring the bore and total diameter of your tailpipe/muffler tip. Compare this to the product description of the product you’re buying. It should be the same or very similar.

When you have one, simply follow the instructions to attach it to your car. It should come with a series of sleeves or clamps (or both). Check the package includes these before you buy them.

It’s then as simple as connecting it and tightening it up. And there you have it!

How Much Do Exhaust Tips Cost?

Man Counting Money

Exhaust tips aren’t that expensive. Simple ones should cost up to $100, although most are in the range of $30 to $60.

You’ll most likely be able to attach exhaust tips yourself (see above). If you’re unsure or worried about it falling off, ask a mechanic to fit it for you. It should take them a matter of minutes, so you shouldn’t expect to pay more than $20 for labor.

This brings your potential total cost to $50 to $80, but most likely less.

Why Exhaust Tips Are Fun… But Relatively Meaningless

Resonating exhaust tips look great and can sound great, too. But they’re a purely aesthetic upgrade to your car. Nothing more.

More meaningful performance upgrades that also make your car louder include:

  • Performance exhausts
  • Stage 1 ECU tuning or chips (Stage 2 is a maybe, Stage 3 is a no-no – lots of power but probably illegal and will destroy your engine)
  • Cleaning your engine – removing carbon deposits will help it sound better. Use fuel additives or pay for a rebuild if you have the money.
  • Cleaning your exhaust – again, cleaning the carbon out will help increase the noise.
  • Engine swap – engine swaps are a little unnecessary. Buy a better car; it’ll be cheaper in the long run. However, a bigger engine would produce much more noise. You just have to somehow fit it in your vehicle.

So, if you want to buy exhaust tips to make your car louder, go ahead. They’ll do just that.

But if you want to increase your car’s bite along with its bark? You’ll need something more… hardcore.

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Benjamin Kitchen

Ben is an automotive author from England. With experience in a fast-fit garage, he's an IMI-qualified light vehicle technician. He aims to help drivers worldwide with common automotive problems. You’ll often find him working with his 1.2 Vauxhall Corsa – it may have a tiny engine, but in eight years it's never once let him down!

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