Three Ways To Beat California’s Absurd New Exhaust Law

Make no mistake about it, California’s new exhaust law (Assembly Bill Number: 1824) is a straight-up cash grab. Blackmail. A shakedown. EXTORTION!

I have no qualms about telling you exactly how I feel with regard to this new legislation that’s just come down the pipe for 2019. If you’re thinking to yourself that all-of-the-above is a bit extreme, and I’m being dramatic, the dictionary defines extortion as, “the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.” If that isn’t what’s going on here, I don’t know what is.

No matter which way you slice it, $1000.00 is excessive for an exhaust violation. Especially when no matter how much you pay in fines, you still hit that same pothole on your way to work.

As much as I hate this and want to tell you how to curtail this law, it is important to first understand how the law works and affects all of us living in the Golden State.

“California law requires that all vehicles must be equipped with an adequate muffler to prevent excessive noise from the exhaust system. It also prohibits the operation of a passenger vehicle (other than a motorcycle), or a truck with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of less than 6,000 pounds, that has an exhaust noise level greater than 95 decibels, when tested under specified conditions.” Now, this part isn’t anything new – AB 1824 is more of a revision than a new law.

What’s changed though, is huge. Previously, individuals with modified or “exessively loud exhausts,” were issued a “fix-it” ticket and the issue was correctable. Essentially, Johnny Law would stop someone for having a loud exhaust, write them a citation, and they would have “X” amount of time to get it fixed or returned to stock, then they could have any applicable peace officer sign it off – no harm no foul – other than having to turn a few wrenches, busting out the welder, and paying some administrative fees.

But now, the whole ordeal is much different and more costly. In the the video above, the officer states, since January 1, 2019, it is no longer a correctable offense to have an excessively loud exhaust – it is simply a $1000 fine. The fine is accompanied by a mandatory trip to the California Buerau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to be inspected, after the repairs are made. To find out more about what will likely happen if you are cited for an “excessively loud exhaust” check out the BAR website, here.

Basically, its up to the officer, and is determined on a case by case basis. It isn’t likely police officers will be carrying a decibel meter with them in their squad car – so, it speaks to reason, most of them will simply target modified cars. So, if you have burnt tipped mufflers, or a fender-exit exhaust, and your car is part of the cacklefest on main street, watch out for the boys in blue.

Ultimately, this opens the door to the profiling of people with modified cars, and further harassment. We all know how that goes, “license and registration please. This car looks like one of those street racing cars (as he stares into the cockpit of your gutted Fox body). I noticed some flames coming out of your exhaust, mind popping the hood for me, and stepping out of the car? etc…”

In a time when everyone feels entitled to voice their opinion, are hot rodders and car enthusiasts the exception? Well, as long as the government has been making laws, people have been finding ways to get around them. That’s where I come in. I can’t promise any of these methods will keep you from being stopped by the police, paying a hefty fine, or even out of handcuffs, but at least you can say you fought the law (not literally). Below are a few things we can do as enthusiasts to either change the law, or get around it.

1. Electric, or Manual Exhaust Cutouts:

Photos borrowed from hedman.com.

Most of you probably remember the scene in American Graffiti, where John Milner takes a break from cruising the main-drag to stop and remove the “header-plugs” from his iconic deuce-coupe. What Milner was referring to was a Y flange welded to his exhaust with a cap on one side and full exhaust on the other. With the caps removed, it was basically like having open headers – with them on, the exhaust was routed through the mufflers to keep things quieter. It would seem not much has changed since those days – we’re still being hassled by the man. Fortunately, it has become much easier than manually removing exhaust caps. Of course, that is a viable option for the more frugal enthusiast – like the ones from Hedman Performance, pictured above(right). But, with the advent of the electric cutout, like the ones from Hooker pictured above(left), it has become as easy as flipping a switch to open or close your exhaust system, and dramatically change your car’s exhaust note.

2. Adjustable Mufflers:

Photos borrowed from autoanything.com.

Using a muffler like the one pictured above is one way that could help you avoid a ticket. Unlike cutouts, this adjustable muffler from BBK, called Varitune, allows users to adjust the level of exhaust flow via a mechanical chamber valve. A setup like this would take mere minutes to adjust, and although it isn’t as quick as electric cut-outs, it does offer up to 8 decibels of adjustment – allowing you to go from tough to mild, and vice-versa.

3. Sign This Petition:

Photo borrowed from change.org.

The third thing you can do is to try and repeal this law. You can do so by signing a petition to nullify AB:1824. The petition can be seen at Change.org. The website states the petition is, “To repeal section 4 of AB-1824. Section 4 is targeting California car owners and creating an issue to cite and punish law abiding citizens, including wasting law enforcement resources and time. This law has no effect on California emissions and does not clearly describe what a modified, excessively loud exhaust or muffler system is.”

California’s govt. tried to sneak this law in at the end of the year, and no one really knew it was going down – Myself included, and I work in the industry. What makes this such a big deal is, this isn’t just a small fine – we are talking about $1000.00! That’s insane! For a majority of the population, that’s a small fortune. So yeah, this is a blatant attack on automotive enthusiasts.

Supposedly, according to the video above, the law was enacted as a street racing deterrent. Unfortunately for enthusiasts everywhere, it would seem that a few bad apples have ruined it for everyone…or what’s more plausible is California’s government trying to cash in on the multi-billion dollar industry that millions of Americans support – the automotive Aftermarket.

Besides, not everyone who has a modified exhaust goes street racing. Some of us are just enthusiasts that want to hear the roar of a beautiful V-8. (Seriously bro, no one wants to hear your V-6 camaro – put a muffler on it.) Furthermore, street racing has been around forever, and it isn’t going anywhere just because they quiet our exhausts.

Lastly, for those of you who think this law might have been enacted for the purposes of emissions control – it wasn’t. In fact, removing a car’s muffler, or replacing it with an aftermarket one doesn’t affect the vehicle’s emissions. That is the job of the catalytic converter. So, other than keeping our rides quiet, this law does nothing. To that, I say, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!”

What are your thoughts on this new law that impacts millions of Californians? Do you think it is a trend that will spread to other states? What are some other options to get around this crazy law? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

I know one thing – WE CANT BE STOPPED! Stay fast. Stay loud. Have fun.

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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