Vehicle Exhaust Noise

New York Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws

Many car enthusiasts decide to modify their car’s exhaust system, but there are laws governing the noise limit your vehicle can produce. The section below outlines relevant laws and legislation pertaining to car exhaust noise laws in New York.

The following law excerpts are from New York Laws – VAT – Vehicle & Traffic, Title 3 (Equipment), Article 9 – Equipment of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles, Section 375 – Equipment.

31. Mufflers and exhaust systems. Prevention of noise.

Every motor vehicle, operated or driven upon the highways of the state, shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler and exhaust system in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise and no such muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cut-out, bypass, or similar device. No person shall modify the muffler or exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor or exhaust system of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler or exhaust system originally installed on the vehicle and such original muffler and exhaust system shall comply with all the requirements of this section.

The section further goes into defining what is a muffler and exhaust system for vehicles:

A muffler is a device consisting of a series of chambers or baffle plates, or other mechanical design for the purpose of receiving exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine, and effective in reducing noise.

An exhaust system is a series of mechanical devices for the purpose of receiving exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine and expelling it into the atmosphere.

Additionally sections 31-a and 31-b regulate exhaust devices for motorcycles:

31-a. No person shall, in the state, sell, install or use a motorcycle exhaust device without internal baffles, known as “straight pipes”.

31-b. No person shall, in the state, sell, install or use a motorcycle exhaust device that is intentionally designed to allow for the internal baffling to be fully or partially removed or interchangeable. This subdivision shall not apply to a motorcycle manufactured or assembled prior to nineteen hundred seventy-nine or a motorcycle registered as a limited use vehicle or an all terrain vehicle pursuant to article forty-eight-A or forty-eight-B of this chapter.

Furthermore Section 381 of Article 9 specifically applies to motorcycle equipment and states the following:

11. No person shall operate a motorcycle on any highway which is: (1) not equipped with a muffler to prevent excessive or unusual noise; (2) equipped with a muffler from which the baffle plates, screens or other original internal parts have been removed or altered; (3) equipped with an exhaust device without internal baffles, known as “straight pipes”; or (4) equipped with an exhaust system that has been modified in a manner that will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of such vehicle above that emitted by the exhaust system originally installed on the vehicle.

As per Sec. 381 violation of any provisions outlined in the section are punishable by a fine not exceeding $100, or by imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.

Legal exhaust noise summary:

To summarize, any exhaust system modifications on vehicles registered in New York must not produce a level of noise higher than original manufacturer equipment.

Essentially this means almost all exhaust system modifications frequently done on sports or racing vehicles can be considered illegal. If you install aftermarket exhaust modifications make sure it does not produce excessive noise.

Sources and more info:

Please remember that state laws are subject to change, and it is important to consult the current statutes and regulations in New York to ensure accurate information.

This article about New York Vehicle Exhaust Noise Laws was last updated in 2019. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!