Hyundai helps owner after California cops deem standard exhaust “too loud”


The US division Hyundai has stepped in to help an i30 Sedan N owner after Californian authorities suspended the performance car’s registration for more than four months, claiming its factory-fitted exhaust is “too loud” in certain drive modes.


The owner of a Hyundai i30 Sedan N has been offered assistance from the South Korean car-maker’s US division after Californian authorities suspended his vehicle’s registration, deeming the factory-fitted exhaust violated local noise regulations.

As reported in October 2022, a user of social media platform Reddit (posting as OkCandidate103) claimed he had been stopped by Californian police in August 2022 while driving his Hyundai i30 Sedan N – known as the Elantra N in North America – in the sporty ‘N mode’, which makes the exhaust louder, producing crackles and pops at certain revs.

The police officer told the owner his i30 Sedan N’s exhaust was too loud and it is illegal to drive the Hyundai on public roads in ‘N mode’, resulting in the car’s registration being suspended and the driver issued with a notice to take his car to the state referee – a vehicle inspection station – for a noise test.



When tested in ‘N mode’, the i30 Sedan N failed to pass the state referee’s exhaust noise test – recording a maximum of 102 decibels, seven decibels higher than the 95-decibel California limit – resulting in the registration remaining suspended.

The owner has since been in limbo as the state referee claimed his car could not be re-tested until he could prove Hyundai had exchanged the exhaust for a quieter one, despite the factory-fitted system being deemed legal by federal regulators.

Over the following two months, the owner was subsequently sent back-and-forth between the head office of Hyundai US and the dealer which sold him the i30 Sedan N, with a case manager from the car-maker eventually stepping in to find a resolution.



Last week, more than four months after being pulled over by Californian police, the owner provided an update on Reddit, claiming Hyundai’s US division had taken the i30 Sedan N to its research and development centre for its own independent tests.

“About one month after I posted my last update, a new Hyundai manager reached out to me and set up a date to have my vehicle picked up for testing at HATCI (Hyundai America Technical Center Inc)”, the Hyundai i30 Sedan N owner posted on Reddit.

“They (Hyundai) set me up in a hybrid loaner and I am still currently driving the loaner vehicle. It is unfortunate that I am still currently making payments on a vehicle that I don’t have but Hyundai has agreed to give (me a) total (of) $US500 as compensation for this situation. It won’t cover the monthly payments paid while not having the vehicle, but at this point, I’ll take it.



“Hyundai have confirmed a few weeks ago that there is nothing wrong with the vehicle. I assume that they will be holding on to the Elantra (i30 Sedan) N and I will be driving their loaner until the citation and state referee is cleared.”

The owner added he has hired an attorney ahead of his appearance in a Californian court on 23 February 2023, where he will attempt to have his car re-registered.

As previously reported, the legal decibel limit for a car’s exhaust in Australia is 90 decibels, and there are a number of strict conditions applied relating to the environment in which a car can be tested.



A spokesperson for Hyundai Australia has previously told Drive the i30 Sedan N is compliant with Australian Design Rules (ADR) 83/00, the local regulations for noise produced by passenger cars.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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