Kansas Muffler Laws

by Kenneth V. Oster
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A muffler in good operating condition is an essential part of an automobile's exhaust system. Passenger safety and comfort are the primary reasons for keeping a vehicle’s exhaust system in top notch condition. State and federal regulations on vehicle emission and exhaust systems are designed to ensure the safety of the motoring public.

State Regulations

The state of Kansas does not have emission standards or regulations separate from federal regulations. Vehicles registered and operated in Kansas are not subject to emissions testing, so automobile mufflers are a matter of passenger safety and noise reduction. A leaky muffler can expose vehicle passengers to dangerous carbon monoxide. The exhaust system that was installed on the vehicle at the factory is designed to carry exhaust gasses from the engine to the rear of the vehicle and out into the atmosphere. A muffler and exhaust system with no leaks will also ensure the driver does not violate state and local noise regulations. A general allowable noise level in most jurisdictions is 80 to 90 decibels. Individuals seeking to modify an exhaust system should consult applicable local noise ordinances before proceeding.

Federal Regulations

Current muffler design and vehicle application is driven by federal regulations placed upon automotive manufacturers. Federal standards specify that exhaust systems safely carry exhaust gases away from passenger compartments and meet Environmental Protection Agency noise standards. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noise standard for trucks is 80 decibels at 50 feet from the vehicle. Federal EPA regulations also specify serious legal sanctions against modifying exhaust systems in such a manner as to negate a vehicle meeting mandated emission standards. A complete exhaust system that will meet federal emission standards will include an exhaust manifold, oxygen sensors, exhaust and tail pipes, muffler and catalytic converter.

Recreational Vehicles

The state of Kansas does have specific muffler regulations for boats and motorcycles. Watercraft operating on Kansas waterways are required to have a muffler and exhaust system that keeps noise levels at, or below, 86 decibels at a distance of 50 feet or greater. The State has determined that engine noise levels while boating is a serious safety issue since boaters need to hear oncoming boats and warning devices.

Motorcycles designed to operate on the highway need a muffler, but there is no established allowable decibel level. Noise level is controlled by the amount of sound the driver can stand and still operate the motorcycle safely. Off-road motorcycles must use a muffler when being operated after sunset. Motorcycle noise levels should not violate local noise ordinances.

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