Does your ATV make so much noise that it scares away all the wildlife? Do you get noise complaints from neighbors due to your noisy ATV?
One question I often get is “How To Quiet ATV Exhaust Noise?” Here’s everything I researched on the topic and even tried a few on my ATV.
Regardless of why you are looking to quiet an ATV exhaust noise, there are many ways to go about it. But make sure to buy something heavy like stainless steel with a full weld for durability.
Here are the most effective ways to silence the noise from your ATV.
- Set Up An Aftermarket ATV Silencer
- Install A Spark Arrestor
- Pack The Muffler
- Repack The Silencer
- Repair The Exhaust System
- Quiet Core Inserts
- Modify Your Muffler
- Include an Inlet Turn Down Exhaust Tip for the Muffler
- Insert A DB Killer
- Add a DIY Muffler
A noisy drive is a part of riding an ATV, but what if it gets to intolerable levels. Not only do you run the risk of damaging your hearing, but also incur the wrath of your neighbors.
My pick among the lot is the silencer muffler as it is easy to install and works efficiently than the others.
On the same note, you might also want to keep an eye on power loss and buildup of backpressure.
10 Most Effective Ways To Quiet ATV Exhaust Noise
1. Set Up An Aftermarket ATV Silencer
A silencer is one of the most effective and easiest methods to silence an ATV without affecting its performance. The silencer muffler is installed upon the existing OEM muffler.
Packed with baffles and sound-absorbing materials, they act as an additional exhaust and suppresses the noise much better than anything else here.
In the case of silencers, the sound travels through the OEM exhaust and then through the extra muffler packed with sound dampeners.
The resultant noise is as much as 10-15 decibels lesser when revving mid-range and 6-8 decibels in idle time, which is advantageous.
But these measurements depend on the make, model, and year of the ATV.
While these might not sound impressive, you need to understand that, with every addition of 3 decibels, the intensity of sound nearly doubles and reduces the safe exposure time by half.
With that in mind, a suppression of 12 dB equals approximately four times the noise level reduction.
The silencer is also easy to install (unless you want to weld a bracket to hold it) and takes about 5-10 minutes at the max. That makes it easy to attach and remove as per your discretion.
There are quite a few different brands offering silencers out there, all working on the same principle.
They offer various options, depending on the ATV you own. There are also universal models if you cannot find one specific to your bike.
While the universal models work well, you might have to do some modifications to fit your ATV. The one that I use is by The Silent Rider, which has worked pretty well for me.
Another option is the Kolpin ATV Stealth Exhaust, again much preferred by riders and hunters.
Remember, just because a silencer muffler works for your friend doesn’t mean that it would work for you too.
I have seen discrepancies brand wise and again model wise. Do your research before choosing one.
2. Install A Spark Arrestor
Another compelling option is the spark arrestor, which was initially designed to prevent forest fires.
It comprises a steel mesh and is installed in the exhaust pipe to catch any carbon embers coming from the system.
This mesh can also act as a sound dampener, and when the sound passes through, it breaks into waves with reduced intensity and speed.
A spark arrestor is mandatory for all ATVs in the USA. The chances of hot materials coming out of the exhaust are very high, especially if you have repacked it.
The danger of wildfires is severe, and you do not want a disaster of such proportions in your hands.
Most ATVs come with a spark arrestor, but if your bike doesn’t come with one, you can buy one for $10.
Few models have discs that catch sparks, while older models have a structure that works by the centrifugal principle.
Unlike the above, you can see a reduction of about 2-3 decibels, which might not be much but definitely works.
The mesh may restrict the airflow but not enough to affect the power. In fact, it can improve the back pressure and hence the performance.
Though the spark arrestor can either be dome-shaped or flat, the former works better to muffle the sound and improve airflow. Ensure that you clean it after every ride to maintain a steady flow.
3. Pack The Muffler
If you are looking for a cheap yet simple alternative, you might want to look into packing the muffler.
While this is not an ideal option, it can work in a pinch by absorbing the noise and vibrations created by the ATV. You can go for sound dampening fabric for the stuffing.
The process, however, depends on the type of muffler. If it is held together by screws and rivets, packing is more effortless.
Pack the material in the empty spaces or replace the existing ones with newer stuffing to create a silent muffler. Whereas in the case of welding, it is not worth dismantling everything.
The disadvantage in this process is the restricted airflow, which can result in an overheating engine.
Some drivers opt for steel wool; while it may appear to do the job first, it is always a fire hazard since it is not built to resist or handle heat efficiently.
They work until they get hot enough the disintegrate and then are thrown out of the muffler.
You not only run the risk of setting a wildfire, but the stuffing inside can also catch fire due course.
Eventually, the steel wool is dampened by oil and other substances, expediting the muffler’s rusting process. They even lose their dampening properties over time.
A better alternative to steel wool is fiberglass. It can handle heat better than its opponent and can last longer, ensuring that it is the budget-friendly option of the two.
There is no chance of hot burning material escaping the muffler since they are heat resistant.
While fiberglass packing should do the job, you can also go for sound dampening fiberglass mats if money is not an issue.
4. Repack The Silencer
If you already own a silencer and still wonder why your ATV creates so much sound, the chances are that the insulation had lost its sound dampening properties.
Not many know, but experienced drivers know that similar to mufflers, the silencers should also be repacked every so often.
The silencer comes packed with sound insulation, which becomes dirty and does not absorb as the days go by.
If your silencer has seen some years or driven quite a lot of miles, you might want to replace the sound dampening material or insulation present with new material.
The stuffing is similar to that of a muffler; you can purchase the same from an aftermarket auto parts store or Amazon.
The process is straightforward and involves dismantling the silencer, removing the existing material, cleaning it, and packing it with new material.
You can learn about the entire process here at rockymountainatvmc.com. You might have to repeat the method every few months or so, depending upon the usage.
5. Repair The Exhaust System
Every ATV comes with a built-in muffler in the exhaust system. It serves to absorb the excess noises coming through the exhaust system.
However, as with every part, it is also subjected to wear and tear, and as the days go on, they degrade.
Such a muffler would not be able to reduce the noise as it once did. If you find your exhaust being particularly noisy, you might want to examine the muffler.
The chances are you might find small cracks and rust. If possible, repair it, else, change the muffler for a better sounding ATV.
The same is valid with the exhaust also. Your exhaust pipe can also develop cracks and leaks due to wear and tear. You can identify the leak by the black soot around the area.
Also, check the welds and joints for cracks. Do not forget to closely inspect the initial few inches as they are prone to leak due to the fluctuations in temperature.
Seal the leak, however small it might be; even a hairline crack can cause excess noise.
6. Quiet Core Inserts
Another not so famous option but works as well as the quiet core inserts. There aren’t many manufacturers for this product since it’s mostly aftermarket stuff.
Regardless of that, many vouch for its integrity and use it in sound-sensitive areas.
The quiet core insert is usually made of 201 stainless steel with a porous pipe that fits inside a muffler.
If your muffler doesn’t contain a spark arrestor, better purchase one to use in conjunction with a quiet core insert.
The combination can give you a reduction of about 3-6 dB, which is quite a lot in terms of the noise level.
It is effortless to install and takes you just about 2 minutes, even for a novice. So, it is one of the quick solutions in any emergency.
But before installing, make sure that your muffler is compatible with a quiet core insert; else, you might have issues with your warranty.
Unscrew the cap and open it; place it and screw it back. You are all set to go.
7. Modify The Muffler
What if there is no quiet core insert that is compatible with your muffler?
In that case, you might want to make one on your own. And all you need is a universal baffle pipe insert for your exhaust pipe.
They come in various sizes and designs to suit your pipe; hence you have the option of selecting one that fits within your exhaust.
They are easy to install; all you need is to insert and bolt it down. They are usually made of metal and hence can last a long time.
But the disadvantage with this is that the remodeling reduces the airflow. Hence it is better suited for slow trail riding with low rpm.
If you use it for racing, the restricted airflow can create too much back pressure, harming the engine.
8. Include An Inlet Turn Down Exhaust Tip For The Muffler
While this doesn’t precisely quiet down the noise, it stops it from traveling too far. This makes a lot of difference, especially when you are hunting. You do not want to scare the animals away.
The best way to handle this is to add an inlet turndown pipe for the muffler.
With a straight exhaust, the sound travels straight hence can go a long distance. In a few cases, residents 3 miles away have heard the roars from ATV parks.
If you have a turndown pipe, the sound is directed towards the ground, and it doesn’t travel that far.
The reason is that the uneven surface of the ground acts absorbs the sound while breaking down the sound waves.
The aftermarket exhaust system comes with a downward bent snout, which is the inlet turndown pipe. If your system doesn’t come with one, you can bolt in any pipe with a 90° bend in it.
In any case, the installation should be simple; there is nothing complicated about it. Use this in addition to any other method for a better result.
9. Insert A DB Killer
The DB killer is essentially a muffler tip that you attach to the end of the tailpipe.
It comes with a built-in spark arrestor in addition to the sound deadening properties. Made of stainless steel, the DB killer is easy to install and is usually just slips inside.
Again, there aren’t many manufacturers for this, but you can find a few on Amazon.
Mostly they are universal fits; however, you might want to check the diameter to verify the fit. The noise cancellation depends on the make, model, and also the sound intensity of your ATV.
The DB Killer, while eliminating the noise, also increases the backpressure.
10. Add A DIY Muffler
If time is not the issue and you have experience working on ATV, why not try constructing an additional muffler for your ATV. All you need is a car muffler and a mounting bracket for the system.
A car muffler on ATV works much better than the stock one and goes right in without affecting the performance and backpressure. While they are also inexpensive, you might want to select one from a small car so as to fit it right in.
The muffler that you choose should not be too excessive for your ATV. If so, there are risks of power loss and too much back pressure, affecting the engine.
If you have no experience with welding, you might want to get the help of someone to fit it in and make the mounting brackets. To make them, you need an exhaust pipe and flat steel.
Why Are ATV’s So Loud?
You now have a variety of methods to silence your ATV; While reading that, you might also want to know why your ATV is so loud in the first place.
The noise level with ATVs is so high since they have high RPMs to travel rough terrains and are generally driven very fast.
They also have short exhaust systems and little to no insulation for your engine.
Manufacturers mostly concentrate on the power and rarely on the noise levels. While they are quite loud, you cannot fault them for their performance.
Even though everyone tends to blame the exhaust, the engine also contributes to the noise level to a great extent.
Here is a rundown of the areas where the sound may originate.
As with every four-wheeler, ATVs also have a combustion engine, and they are loud. Unlike cars, they are not in any chamber that is designed to insulate the sound.
To start with, ATVs can either be a 4-stroke or a 2-stroke. Nowadays, four-stroke engines like that with cars have become a standard.
And in layman’s terms, 4 strokes in the piston complete one cycle. Every cycle has a distinct process, which I discuss below.
Coming to two-stroke engines, considering that there haven’t been one produced since 2006, it is probably an ancient story. The last of its kind was from Yamaha: Banshee 2-stroke.
- Inlet: This starts the moment you hit the start button. The ATV signals the engine to start. The piston is now in the downward stroke within the cylinder when the intake valve opens and allows air and fuel.
- Compression: By the time the piston reaches the bottom, it is filled with air and fuel mixture. At the upward stroke, it explodes back up, compressing the mixture.
- Combustion: At this point, the spark plug ignites the mixture causing an explosion. The gasses formed as a result of the explosion expand quickly, pushing the piston back down again. Every stroke that happens in the combustion engine drives the ATV forward.
- Exhaust: Finally, at the fourth stroke, the piston moves up again, now opening the exhaust valve. At this motion, the burnt gasses are expelled via the exhaust system.
Each stroke happens quickly and explosively such that there are many moving parts every second creating the noise you hear from your ATV.
The disadvantage comes from its setup, where there is nothing to isolate noise coming from the engine.
The open design also doesn’t allow for insulation, and neither can you add any shielding to muffle the noise level.
While cars are also 4-stroke, their engines are housed in compartments with insulations to muffle the combustion sounds and reduce the noise level.
Mufflers in ATVs are essentially lightweight and don’t do anything to reduce the sounds without talking about muting it.
They are essentially tubes with chambers holding sound dampening materials. When sound travels through it, they are either absorbed or canceled when they bounce off the chambers.
Short Exhaust Systems
The exhaust system of ATVs from the engine to the tailpipe is concise and barely enough.
The generated backpressure doesn’t travel long enough for it to dissipate the sound and vibrations. And the straight design doesn’t do much either.
What Is The Quietest Four-Wheeler?
Honda makes the quietest ATVs in the market, currently closely followed by Yamaha. The disadvantages with Honda are the low ground clearance and a small fuel tank.
Considering these, you might want to go for Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS Realtree Camo, especially when hunting where you need the least sound possible.
Does Heat Wrap Make The Exhaust Quieter?
A heat wrap has sound dampening properties, but they are designed to keep the heat inside. They do not work for low frequencies, but they can reduce to an extent at higher frequencies.
In any case, they are not advisable unless it is to plug a hole.
Is It Illegal To Drive With A Loud Exhaust?
Yes, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with a loud exhaust on roads, but the regulations and the punishment varies from state to state.
Few states like California make it a crime to modify the exhaust system to make it louder.
It is illegal to drive noisy ATVs on the roads and mainly in trails.
Even without considering the legal side, it is not suitable for the environment either. Noisy quads are the reason why many trails and ATV parks close.
There are many ways by which you can quiet down the exhaust noise from an ATV. The best and my pick is the silencer.
If you cannot be bothered to try any of these, you can always go for a quiet ATV. Unless you are racing and performance is an issue, do not modify anything.
If none of the above works, there might be a problem with your engine. Like your car, the ATV also requires regular maintenance and oil change, as mentioned in the manual.