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All about Loud Exhausts: Understanding the Noise Test and How to Remedy Pink and green stickers

Updated: Feb 26

By law, the noise coming from your exhaust system must be similar to or less than the noise it made when your vehicle was manufactured.


In New Zealand, strict regulations are in place to control noise emissions from vehicle exhausts. In this blog, we will discuss in detail what happens when your car is ordered off the road with a pink and green sticker and how to remedy the issue and get back on track.


The Importance of Exhaust Noise Checks


The regulations concerning exhaust noise in New Zealand are outlined in the Vehicle Equipment Rule. These regulations seek to balance personal preferences and the need to reduce excessive noise on our roads. According to the current sub-clause of the rule, noise from an exhaust system must not be noticeably and significantly louder than it would have been with the original exhaust system when the vehicle was manufactured.

The government has introduced more stringent requirements regarding exhaust noise to address public complaints about noisy modified vehicles. A car will comply with these requirements if the noise output from the exhaust system is similar to or less than the noise output from the original exhaust system when the vehicle was manufactured. There are two exceptions to this rule:

The noise output remains well below the legal noise limits.

  1. An objective noise test proves that the exhaust system does not exceed the legal noise limits.


Objective Noise Tests for Loud Exhausts

The noise test is a crucial method used to measure the noise level produced by vehicle exhaust systems. Its primary purpose is to regulate and control excessive noise that can cause disturbance to the public. By conducting these tests, authorities ensure that vehicles adhere to acceptable noise levels, creating a more peaceful environment for everyone.

During a WoF inspection, the vehicle inspector may conduct a quick noise check to determine if your vehicle surpasses the legal noise limits. If your car fails this check due to a loud exhaust, the inspector may refer it for a comprehensive noise test.

Only an approved low-volume vehicle certifier can conduct this test. If your vehicle passes the objective noise test, the certifier will attach a label to verify compliance. However, if your car fails the test, you can still legally drive it on the road only to take it to get the exhaust repaired. Each time your vehicle is ordered off the road for non-compliant exhaust noise, it must pass a new objective noise test.

A certified low-volume vehicle inspector typically carries out this test, and may cost around *$200.


How Exhaust Noise is Checked during the WoF Inspection

During the WoF inspection, the inspector assesses the noise output of the vehicle compared to other similar cars in an original and suitable condition. If your vehicle is noisier than initially, it will only pass the inspection if the noise output is well below the legal noise limits. The inspector may use a handheld noise meter to conduct a quick noise check or refer the vehicle for an objective noise test.


How to Pass the WoF with Exhaust Noise

If your car fails its WoF due to a noisy exhaust, here are your options to consider:

  1. Replace, remodify, or repair the exhaust system so that the noise output is less than or similar to the noise output of the original exhaust system.

  2. Undergo an objective noise test if the exhaust system is louder than the original. You may need to bring the noise output below the legal limits by replacing, remodifying, or repairing the exhaust system. It's important to note that an objective noise test is optional if the vehicle can pass the noise quick check. However, if your car has been pink or green stickered by an enforcement officer for non-compliant exhaust noise, it must pass an objective noise test before a new WoF can be issued.

  3. Silencers, as well as any catalytic converters, can silence the noise to an acceptable level.

  4. A well-placed resonator can eliminate the drone sound. Resonators complement mufflers by reducing drones and providing a smoother exhaust note.

When Should Your Vehicle Get an Objective Noise Test?

Suppose your vehicle's exhaust is louder than its original exhaust system, especially if the noise output is close to the permitted limit. In that case, an objective noise test is recommended. By obtaining the label and certificate from the test, you can avoid the inconvenience and cost of failing a WoF or having to go through a quick noise check at every WoF inspection.


Boy racers with loud car exhausts on road

Legal Noise Limits for Different Vehicle Types

The legal noise limits for different vehicle types in New Zealand are as follows:

Motorcycle or trike with an engine capacity of 125cc or less: 96 dBA

Motorcycle or trike with an engine capacity of more than 125cc: 100 dBA

Light goods or passenger vehicle (e.g., car, MPV, minibus, ute or van) first registered in NZ before 1 June 2008: 95 dBA

Light goods or passenger vehicles (e.g., car, MPV, minibus, ute or van) first registered in New Zealand on or after 1 June 2008 and manufactured before 1 January 1985: 95 dBA

.Light goods or passenger vehicles (e.g., car, MPV, minibus, ute or van) first registered in New Zealand on or after 1 June 2008 and manufactured on or after 1 January 1985: 90 dBA


Resolving Disagreements

If you disagree with the decision to fail your vehicle during the WoF inspection. In that case, you should resolve the issue with the inspecting organisation or the concerned low-volume vehicle (LVVTA) certifier. You can complain to the NZ Transport Agency if you are still unsatisfied.


Where to Get More Information

For more information and a list of approved LVVTA certifiers, visit the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association website or contact them directly. Compliance with legal exhaust noise requirements ensures a peaceful and environmentally friendly driving experience for everyone on the road.


*$200 is not the exact amount. This price may have changed.


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