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What Are Some Alternatives to Muffler Deletes in California?

With all of the strict vehicle and environmental laws in California, it can be very difficult to modify your car to your liking. Muffler deletes are nothing like chrome deletes where the customization is purely cosmetic. Instead, muffler deletes involves completely removing your muffler from the exhaust system, leading to improved exhaust flow, and reduced weight, as well as creates a powerful, roaring exhaust sound.

Being one of the Tesla customization trends of 2021, many Californians are looking into alternatives to muffler deletes. Muffler deletes are becoming increasingly popular with many other makes and models as well, making it an attractive modification for many car owners. The following is everything you need to know when looking for options to replace muffler deletes:

California Vehicle Code

The California Vehicle Code is the legislation you have to look at to gain insight on what is and isn’t legal regarding your exhaust system. The California Vehicle Code is very clear about vehicles needing a muffler and that the muffler the vehicle has needs to reduce noise to an acceptable level. Vehicle Code 21750 states that all automobiles that are subject to registration (which means any vehicle you want to drive on the road) has to have an “adequate muffler in constant operation”. A requirement under this code is that the muffler must “prevent any excessive or unusual noise”.

This same code also dictates that an exhaust system can not be outfitted with a cutout, bypass, or any similar devices. Similarly, it is not acceptable under California law to have a whistle tip or modified exhaust pipe that makes unusual noise. In California’s Vehicle Code 27151(b) they give a specific definition of what is too loud, stating that a sound level of 95 A-weighted decibels (dbA) or lower is acceptable and complies with this section of the Vehicle Code.

To know what is acceptable as an alternative to a muffler delete, we must know how loud 95 dbA is. Things of a similar loudness include grass mowers, a jet flying overhead at 1,000 feet, and a food processor if you are standing next to it. 95 dbA is still pretty loud, with prolonged exposure to sounds over 70 A-weighted decibels leading to permanent damage in some people’s ears. Although it should be fairly easy to keep your exhaust under this limit (unless you have a vehicle that came off the lot louder than this), do keep in mind that police are allowed to use their judgement to determine if your muffler is too loud.

Adjustable Mufflers

Since completely removing your muffler is not feasible in California if you want your car to be street legal, you are going to have to investigate the best legal exhaust mods in Los Angeles and where to get them. One good option in this circumstance may be adjustable mufflers, though, you still have to be cautious about emissions laws.

One such adjustable muffler is the 2 ½” Varitune Adjustable Double Offset Muffler by BBK, a trusted American company that provides high quality performance parts. BBK’s Varitune Adjustable Muffler allows you to adjust the flow of exhaust through the use of a mechanical chamber valve.

With the turn of your wrist, you can use a wrench to control the sound of your exhaust through tightening and loosening a screw under your vehicle. This adjustable muffler gives you an 8 to 10 decibel range that you can manually decide upon. When the screw is manipulated so that the valve is in the closed position, forcing the exhaust flow through 3 chambers, you get a deep sound. When the valve is opened, you get a more aggressive and throaty sound.

When deciding how open or closed you want your adjustable muffler, you can utilize one of many smartphone apps to make sure you are within the acceptable decibel range. Decibel X is a fantastic app for this use since it can accurately measure decibels between 30 and 130 dbA. Available for both iOS and Android smartphones, this app, and others, can help you ensure you are within the relevant limits.

With an adjustable muffler, you will be able to change how your vehicle sounds easily while ensuring that it stays under 95 dbA. This will help you to remain within the new driving laws in California for 2021. You do still need to keep emissions regulations when modifying your exhaust system in mind, even if the customization you choose does not violate California’s Vehicle Codes relating to muffler sound standards.

Motorcycles Have Different Decibel Limits

Unlike other vehicles that weigh 6,000 lbs. or less, motorcycles do not have the 95 dbA noise limit. Instead, the decibel limit is 92 dbA, 88 dbA, 86 dbA, 83 dbA, and 80 dbA for motorcycles manufactured in 1969 and before, 1970 to 1972, 1972 to 1974, 1975 to 1985, and 1986 and later, respectively. Other exhaust system related laws still apply. The only “motorcycle” that muffler legislation and decibel limits do not apply to are motor-driven cycles.

Variations of noise limits also exist for vehicles whose gross vehicle weight rating is over 6,000 lbs. Once your vehicle is over this weight limit, the acceptable dbA is based on both the year your vehicle was manufactured and its weight. For example, a vehicle over 8,500 lbs manufactured after 1977 but before 1982 has a noise limit of 83 dbA, whereas a vehicle over 10,000 lbs that was manufactured after 1981 but before 1988 has a noise limit of 80 dbA. Make sure to look at the applicable legislation regarding sound limits here before purchasing an adjustable muffler.

Wrapping Up

Because of the strict vehicle laws in California, muffler deletes are not an option. Despite this, you can still get a heartier sound from your vehicle through specialty performance parts such as adjustable mufflers. These mufflers let you increase your exhaust’s sound by up to 10 decibels but can be altered at the turn of a screw. Since you can choose how open or closed you want the chamber valve, you can “set” the muffler at a precise range to keep your vehicle up to code. Before purchasing such a product, make sure you know what the decibel limit is for your specific vehicle. Typically, the limit is 95 dbA unless your vehicle is over 6,000 lbs or you have a motorcycle. 

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