Trucker Perspectives
Unmuffled straight pipes
Name withheld, San Antonio, TX

I’m an owner-operator based out of San Antonio, TX, and a former diesel technician. I keep hearing drivers whine about the “No Engine Brakes” rules that are in effect in many regions throughout the country (i.e. Parley’s Canyon on I-80 going into Salt Lake City, etc). Anyone in their right mind knows that this law was the result of the “Billy Big Rigger” mentality that some truck owners have thinking “unmuffled straight pipes are cool.” Many of us who have been around the industry awhile know the benefits of engine brakes as a luxury that can, consequently, reduce brake wear on a downgrade. I’ve driven lots of trucks in the past that didn’t have them, and I feel many drivers have become too dependent on them and use them more than necessary. (I’ve seen them used in truckstop parking lots and other such places!)

Most trucks with a well-maintained, factory-installed exhaust system are usually reasonably quiet, even when the engine brakes are being used. The people who live along the freeway in Parley’s Canyon probably would have never complained (resulting in the aforementioned law being passed) if it wasn’t for those of you who installed unmuffled straights on your trucks!

Something else to consider: There’s been many nights when I’d park for the night, crank up my quiet generator unit for heat or air conditioning when needed (I don’t idle the main engine anymore), and go to sleep, only to be awakened by some jerk who had to park next to me with those straight pipes bellowing an annoying tone all night long! How self-centered can a person get? Just because one person likes unmuffled straight pipes means everyone else has to listen to them?

I’ll admit, they look good on show trucks, but please show some consideration for the rest of the trucking community (and those who live near freeways) and do one of the following: (1) Put on a set of mufflers that “look” like straight pipes, but are quieter; (2) Install inserts that fit inside your straights that will retain that look you want to keep, but will quiet things down; (3) Go back to the factory-installed exhaust system; or (4) Don’t idle with unmuffled straights when parked, and don’t use your engine brake anymore! If you don’t know how to drive safely through mountains without it and don’t want to keep your truck quiet, then you shouldn’t be out here anyway!

As a former diesel technician, I will tell you that a diesel engine requires a certain amount of backpressure in the exhaust system to help it develop torque that’s used to pull long grades. In other words, those people I’m addressing would do themselves a favor by getting away from unmuffled stra