Dear Crabby,

Now that you have solved the question about headlight use (Dear Crabby, Aug. 18) — which I incidentally disagree with and believe they should be on constantly — please solve the problem of obnoxiously loud mufflers or even no mufflers.

Are there police rules about this problem? Does the city not have ordinances? I live two blocks off of Summitview and hear them all the time.

I don’t know which is more obnoxious, the little cars or the big, obnoxious testosterone trucks. Don’t they bother you?


Miffed About Mufflers

Dear Miffed,

Yes, the city has laws. The state does, too. We’ll get to those. But first I need to clear something up.

I’m not sure what you disagreed with in the column about headlights. Like you, I’d love it if headlights were constantly on, automatically, in all automobiles. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be. I told that letter-writer he was correct to flash his lights at those with their headlights off at twilight, and I don’t know how you could have read that as some kind of approval of people driving with their lights off. So I don’t think we actually disagree there at all.

Sorry, but that was bugging me.

Now, about those loud cars and trucks. Yakima’s noise ordinance (6.04.180 in the municipal code), does indeed cover automobile noise. It bans engine noises that “unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort and repose of residential occupants within the area.” Simple enough, right?

But wait!

There’s a problem. Among the exemptions to the city’s noise ordinance are “sounds created by motor vehicles while driven upon public highways.” Given that “public highways” legally means just about all public roads, that’s quite an exemption. It means you can call the cops about an engine in a driveway being revved but not about the loud car driving up and down your street.

But wait! Again!

The state’s got you covered. Section 173-62-030 of the Washington Administrative Code includes maximum permissible sound levels for vehicles being driven on public roads. They vary based on speed limit, year of the vehicle and vehicle type, but the important thing from your perspective is that the code also specifically states: “Every motor vehicle operated upon the public highways shall at all times be equipped with an exhaust system and a muffler in good working order and constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.”

That’s the “no loud muffler” clause you’re looking for. Now what that means, practically, is a different matter. Local, county and state cops might respond to specific reports, but I don’t imagine they’re likely to put a ton of resources into policing mufflers. It seems more like one of those charges they can tack on if a driver is already pulled over for something else than a thing they’re waiting by the phone to rush out and handle.

Anyway, just so there’s no confusion: I agree that loud mufflers and cars without mufflers are bad, just like I think people should drive with their headlights on. I just don’t really have any power to make those things happen. I don’t know what to advise you to do if you hear a car that’s too loud. I guess you could try flashing your lights at them.

Hope that helps.



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