A lot of car enthusiasts want their cars to sound loud and deeper than what they have received from the factory. Many of you might be wondering why your car doesn’t sound as loud as your friend’s old American V8.
Well, engine sound depends on various factors like the kind of engine you have, the size of the engine (a larger displacement engine makes louder sounds eg: V8, V12), and the exhaust system design.
The V engines are probably the most common and known engines for their loud and deep sound. I have owned a couple of vehicles and some vehicles with V engines too.
What I have personally experienced is that compared to the typical Inline 6 engines, V engines produce louder sounds due to their designed engineering. V series engines run on irregular firing order that produces louder exhaust sound.
In this article, I will talk about the factors that control how a car sound is produced. After this, I am sure you will understand why some cars are louder than others from the factory. Let’s start by understanding how a car sound is generated.
How Does Car Sound Get Produced?
Car sound is produced by the engine and the exhaust system of your car. The engine burns a mixture of fuel and air to produce energy which spins your car wheels. When the fuel is burning, the engine produces different sounds including the sound of air coming into the engine, fuel burning sound, and the sound of exhaust gasses.
The exhaust system is responsible for taking the exhaust gasses away from the engine and out of the vehicle. These exhaust gasses also carry sound-generating vibrations which are derived from the combustion inside each cylinder.
The design of the exhaust system can also play a role in the sound of an engine. A well-designed exhaust system can amplify the sound of an engine and make it louder and more resonant.
5 Factors That Impact The Sound Of a Car
1. Size Of The Engine
Engine displacement refers to the size of an engine – and this has the most impact on the sound of a car. A larger displacement engine can take more air, burn more fuel, and generate more power and SOUND.
As compared to smaller engines like inline 6 a large engine such as a 5.0 liter V8 produces a deeper, more resonant sound due to its greater displacement and the larger number of cylinders they typically have.
2. Type Of The Engine
Different types of engines, such as inline engines, V engines, and rotary engines, have different designs and operating characteristics that can affect the sound of the exhaust gasses as they pass through the exhaust system.
If you compare 2 different types of engines such as rotary and V engines together, you will find that both engines produce a completely different sound from each other.
For example, inline engines have cylinders that are arranged in a straight line, which can produce a more even, smooth exhaust sound. V engines, on the other hand, have cylinders arranged in a “V” shape, which can produce a deeper, more resonant exhaust sound.
Rotary engines have a unique design in which the cylinders are arranged in a circular pattern and rotate around a central axis, which can produce a distinctive exhaust sound.
Each and every kind of engine has its own unique sound, some have deeper and louder sounds while some engines are known for smooth sounds.
3. Exhaust Headers
Although exhaust headers are supposed to increase performance, they are still considered the main factor when it comes to car sound. Thin header tubes can increase vibration in the exhaust which results in a louder exhaust sound.
Exhaust headers can make a car louder by reducing back pressure in the exhaust system. When the exhaust gasses have an easier time escaping the engine, they can create more noise as they exit the exhaust pipe.
Exhaust headers are part of the exhaust system of a vehicle and are designed to increase horsepower and torque by allowing the exhaust gasses to flow more freely.
They are typically located between the exhaust manifold and the catalytic converter, and they are responsible for directing the exhaust gasses from each cylinder to the exhaust pipe.
Related Article: Do Headers Make Your Car Sound Better? | Car Performance Boss
4. Type Of Exhaust System
Different types of exhaust systems can produce exhaust notes with different characteristics, such as a deep or throaty sound, or a higher-pitched or more aggressive sound.
There are different exhaust systems, and each individual exhaust system impacts the car’s sound.
- Stock exhaust systems that come from the factory are designed to keep the car sound as minimum as possible for a comfortable ride.
- Aftermarket exhaust systems are designed with larger diameter pipes and shape that determines the sound of the car. Some exhaust systems such as straight pipe exhaust have no resonator, cat, or muffler.
- Straight pipe exhausts are the loudest exhaust systems and they are also illegal because the car will produce more sound than the legal noise limit.
For more information about the types of exhausts, refer to my other articles below:
- 5 Best Exhaust For Horsepower Compared (+ Cost & Sound)
- Single Exhaust Vs Dual Exhaust: Sound, Power, Weight & Dyno
5. Type Of Muffler
Mufflers are designed to reduce the noise of the exhaust gasses as they pass through the exhaust system, and different types of mufflers can produce different levels of noise reduction and different types of exhaust notes.
For example, some mufflers are designed to produce a deep, throaty exhaust note, while others are designed to produce a higher-pitched or more aggressive sound.
For more information about different muffler types, refer to my other articles below:
- 5 Muffler Types Compared For Sound, Power & Mileage (Detailed)
- Will Changing Muffler Change Car Sound? (Louder Or Quieter?)
Why Is V8 and V12 Engines Sound Louder & Deeper?
V8 and V12 engines tend to produce a louder and deeper sound because they have a larger displacement than smaller engines.
Displacement refers to the volume of air and fuel that an engine can move through its cylinders in a single cycle. Larger engines have a greater displacement, which allows them to generate more power and produce a deeper, more resonant sound.
The placement of engine cylinders also plays a major role in creating a deep and loud sound. Both V8 and V12 engines have equally divided cylinders placed in a “V” shape.
Thus the name of the engine is V8-V12. V8 and V12 engines have eight and twelve cylinders, respectively, which means they have more cylinders generating power and contributing to the overall sound of the engine.
If we compare both of the engines then we will be surprised to see that the V8 engine has a more deeper and rumbling sound than a V12 engine. Despite having fewer combustion cylinders the V8 generates this sound due to its irregular firing order of the combustion cylinders which produces a loud and deep exhaust sound.
How Do You Change The Sound Of a Car?
As I have mentioned above, the sound of a car depends on multiple factors such as headers, engine type/size, and exhaust system. To change a car’s sound you can also do these mods which will make your car sound louder, deeper, and more aesthetic.
- Cold Air Intake: Cold air intakes are basically used to increase intake airflow with cold air. CAI will also slightly improve the car’s performance and sound.
- Aftermarket Muffler: installing an aftermarket muffler is also a very good way to change the car’s sound. Aftermarket mufflers will significantly change the car’s sound depending on what kind of muffler you are using. Some mufflers are designed to make a louder sound on high RPMs while some will make your car louder even at idle or low RPM.
- Resonator Exhaust Tip: as opposed to mufflers, the resonator exhaust tips work in the opposite way. Instead of suppressing exhaust sound waves, the resonator exhaust tip increases the vibration in exhaust waves to increase the sound. Resonator Tip is also one of the cheapest ways to change a car sound, it usually costs around $30.
- Muffler Delete: removing a muffler from the exhaust system will significantly make your car louder. The muffler is responsible for suppressing the exhaust sound, ensuring that the sound waves are as quiet as possible before leaving the exhaust system.
Here’s a related article to this topic with more specific details: