Is That Loud Exhaust On Your Ride Illegal in Oklahoma?
When I was twenty years old I had a Ford Ranger. It was chrome yellow like the lifeguard trucks on Baywatch, had an ultra-reliable 2.3L inline four-cyclinder engine in it, and I once cut a hole in the bed to install a four-inch stack straight pipe exhaust on it.
I was a bit of a redneck kid.
It was beyond loud.
When the old gang gets back together, my buddy Josh loves to tell the story of how I got my first radio job. Fresh out of broadcast school, I sent out hundreds of resumes and demos to stations all over the country.
Josh and I were headed to OKC to find him a mobile home when my old Nokia brick phone rang. It was the program director at a little country radio station in Beeville, Texas wanting to interview me on the spot for a job.
This is the point in the story where he starts giggling about the big stack exhaust on that tiny truck. It was so incredibly loud that I had to pull over on the side of I-35 and turn my truck off just to hear what that program director was saying.
Spoiler, I got the job, but the story doesn't end there.
When we finally made it to the mile of mobile homes in OKC, the first words out of the trailer salesman's mouth were "What the hell is that big pipe sticking up out of your bed?"
That exhaust was only days old and when anybody gave me guff about it, I defended it to my core. The reaction of the trailer house sales guy sort of rained on my redneck parade, and Josh still thinks it's the funniest thing he ever got to witness.
I tell you this in order to tell you the next thing... Loud exhausts in Oklahoma are illegal.
While you would never guess this was the case, loud exhausts in Oklahoma are against the law.
Oklahoma Statute 47-12-402 states:
Every vehicle shall be equipped, maintained, and operated so as to prevent excessive or unusual noise. Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a muffler or other effective noise-suppressing system in good working order and in constant operation, and no person shall use a muffler cut-out, bypass or similar device. No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in any manner which will amplify or increase the noise or sound emitted louder than that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle.
Put simply, it's illegal to use a muffler that emits more noise than factory and to modify your exhaust to make more noise is totally against the law. Period.
I know what you're thinking... It never fails. Every time we're driving down the road and hear a hollow, throaty V8 screaming by, it's always some Kyle in a Mustang. The odds are 10-to-1 that it's an illegal exhaust system.
The same goes for every Sam out there in the truck with those big chrome donkey-dong tailpipes. Sure, it's cool that your little Cummins sounds like a big rig, but just as it is with sports cars, it's illegal.
Additionally from §47.12.402
The engine and power mechanism of every motor vehicle shall be so equipped and adjusted as to prevent the escape of excessive fumes or smoke, or both.
That also means the rolling of coal is also illegal in the Sooner State.
If it's illegal, why does everyone roll coal and/or have loud exhaust?
The few people I've talked with about this over the weekend asked the same thing you're probably thinking... Is this a new law? It's not. This law was last amended in November 2003... The same year I put that big stack pipe on my lifted four-banger mini-truck.
Here's the thing, while it's the law here in Oklahoma, it's overwhelmingly ignored by police... Or at least it's ignored until the Boys in Blue want to really screw over the mouthy kid with the loud pipes.