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5 Reasons Why Rally Cars Are So Loud

Subaru Impreza rally car blue durin gthe 2nd stage of Nido dell Aquila in Nocera Umbra - Italy 2010

High speeds, loud cars, and adrenaline-pumping excitement with every turn are what keep people coming back time after time to be a part of the rally racing world. You find the white-knuckle world of racing exhilarating but you may be wondering why rally cars are so loud. 

Multiple factors contribute to the reason why rally race cars are so loud, some of which are listed below:

  • Drivers are operating cars at high RPMs
  • High-performance exhaust systems
  • High-performance turbo-charged engines
  • Specialized anti-lag turbo systems
  • Lack of traction means more throttle

For more detailed information about rally cars and why they are so loud continue reading.

Brief Intro to Rally Cars

For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, a rally car is simply a regular car that has been stripped to its chassis and rebuilt with high-performance parts to become a racing vehicle.

Rally cars can be two-wheel or all-wheel drive; they are not the same as other race cars in that they must be “roadworthy”. Meaning that they must be able to pass the required inspections and be properly licensed and insured so they can be driven on public roadways.

Rally race cars are driven by highly skilled and experienced drivers who work with a team of people to ensure the race goes off without a hitch. The driver has a navigator who guides them via radio and advises them of turns and obstacles on the course so they know what to expect and can react accordingly.

In addition to the navigator, there is a team of professional mechanics waiting at each checkpoint to evaluate how the car is performing and make any repairs that may be necessary before continuing on to the next leg of the race.

Now that you know what a rally race car is you can find out why they are so loud.

Kiev, Ukraine - Alexandrov rally race driver Biloysov and co-driver Mankivskiy in a Peugeot 106 rally car
Peugeot 106 Rally Car

Top 5 Reasons Why Rally Race Cars Are So Loud

When it comes to rally racing you either love the noise or you don’t. There is generally no in-between. Whether you love the noise of a rally car or hate it, the list below gives some insight into why these cars are so darn loud.

1. Anti-Lag System Makes It Pop

If you love rally racing you likely love the recognizable popping sound of the exhaust as the car speeds along the road, but what causes that sound that we all love so much?

The popping sound you hear as the rally cars are speeding past you is caused by a specialized anti-lag system that keeps the turbo from lagging/stalling when the car is accelerating.

This system works by spitting unburned gasoline on the manifold just before the turbo to create a burst of combustion that prevents the turbo from slowing or stalling when taking off.

The anti-lag system is one of the major components that help these cars gain and maintain the speed necessary to win races.

Close up of a Hyundai i20 WRC rally car at the jump section of the track in Sveta Nedjelja, Croatia
Hyundai i20 WRC Coupe

2. Increased Throttle Compensates For Lack Of Traction

If you are driving your vehicle you have probably noticed that when you step on the accelerator and give it more gas your vehicle’s engine gets louder.

The same thing happens to rally race car engines. The harder the driver is stomping on the accelerator the louder the car is going to be.

Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 drifting on a dirt tracking at Paphos Auto Rally Sprint in Mandria, Paphos District, Cyprus
Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX

3. High-Performance Exhaust Systems

Rally race cars are especially loud because they use specialized high-performance exhaust systems to reach the car’s maximum potential.

Rally race cars need a high-performance exhaust system to withstand the extreme wear and tear that comes along with this style of racing.

These exhaust systems are designed to hold up in extreme hot or cold temperatures as well as withstand exposure to moisture from puddles and other obstacles on the roads.

Green Skoda Fabia R5 rally car at the jump section of the trackin in Sveta Nedjelja, Croatia 10th rally show 2019
Skoda Fabia R5

4. Engine Is Running At Extremely High RPMs

Another reason rally race cars are so loud is that their engines are running at extremely high RPMs to make the car go fast to win the races.

The higher the RPMs the engine is using the louder the car will be as it races down the road.

Close up of a 70s rally race car dashboard instrument cluster with RPM gauge visible

5. Turbo-Charged Engines

Turbo-charged engines like the ones in rally race cars are so loud because the compressor inside of the turbo is spooling to create the boost it needs.

This is why turbocharged engines make a loud sometimes whistling sound that comes when accelerating.

The more the throttle is pushed by the driver of the car, the louder the engine will be as they compete to win the race.

Continue reading to learn ways you can make your ride sound like a rally race car.

Close up of a turbo on an engine inside a rally race car

Turning Heads Like A Rally Car

If you like the way a rally car sounds as it’s tearing down the road at high velocity then you may be wondering how you can make your daily driver sound like you’re ready to race.

The list below will give you some ideas on where to start to mimic the sound of these rapid racers:

  1. Add an exhaust system speaker to enhance the sound even more
  2. Add high-performance exhaust pipes and tips to increase the sound
  3. Discard the resonator that is located between the catalytic converter and the muffler
  4. Install an aftermarket turbocharger to your engine
  5. Remove the muffler (if allowed in your state)
  6. Take out any soundproofing material from around the engine
  7. Upgrade your exhaust system

These are just some of the things that can be done to make your car sound more like a rally racer. With some time and money you’ll be turning heads wherever you go, likely including the police, so be sure to drive carefully.

FIA World Rallycross Championship Monster Energy World RX of Turkey with a Ford rally car drifting and flames coming from the exhaust

Perfect Combination of Skill, Speed, and Sound

Now that you know more about how these cars operate you understand why they are so loud. The technical skills a driver needs to travel at blinding speeds on complicated race courses combined with the telltale sounds of the turbo-charged engine describe a small part of what makes rally racing so fun.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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