Making Sense of California’s New Exhaust Law


SEMA answers some very important questions regarding California Assembly Bill (A.B.) 1824.

Were California’s exhaust noise rules changed?

No. Since 2003, exhaust systems installed on motor vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of less than 6,000 pounds, other than motorcycles, may not exceed a sound level of 95-decibels when tested under Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) test procedure J1169 (May 1998). This was not changed by A.B. 1824.

Is it now illegal to install an aftermarket exhaust system on my vehicle?

No. The sale and installation of an aftermarket exhaust system remain legal in California so long as it does not exceed a sound level of 95-decibels when tested under SAE J1169 and complies with all other exhaust and safety laws and regulations.

If exhaust noise laws didn’t change, what did?

Beginning January 1, 2019, a motorist cited for violating the current California exhaust noise law can receive an immediate fine. Previously, motorists received what is known as a “fix-it” ticket, which allowed for 30-days to correct the violation.

What are my options if I get a ticket?

Consumers in receipt of a ticket still have the option of seeking a certificate of compliance from the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) demonstrating that their exhaust emits no more than 95-decibels. This SEMA-sponsored program allows courts to dismiss citations for exhaust systems that have been tested and for which a certificate of compliance has been issued. BAR does not currently issue preemptive certificates of compliance.

If I get pulled over, will I receive a $1,000 fine?

According to the Judicial Council of California’s Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules for 2019, the suggested base fine/fee for a first conviction is $25 with a total fee of $193.

Still have questions?

Please contact Christian Robinson, SEMA’s Director of State Government Affairs & SEMA PAC, at [email protected].

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