This Chevy Camaro ZL1's Exhaust Was So Loud It Set Off the Airbags
Admittedly not the most common side effect of straight pipes.
There's nothing like hearing a V-8 scream through a straight pipe, but it turns out there is such a thing as too much noise. Aside from the obvious potential for permanent hearing loss, one fifth-gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 owner discovered the dangers of diverting your exhaust when his custom electronic setup caused the side curtain airbags to explode during a particularly intense pull—on a public road, no less.
There are a lot of questionable decisions being made in this video, but if you don't have time to watch the whole thing, skip ahead to around 10:15 to see the fateful moment (Warning: NSFW language) and the aftermath in its entirety.
For those who prefer their cars to not shake themselves to pieces and are unfamiliar with these modifications, an electronic diverter uses flaps to either direct the exhaust through what's basically a straight pipe off the headers under the car, or through the regular muffler and out the back like normal. YouTuber GuitarmageddonZL1 bought an adjustable system for his Camaro ZL1 from Noweeds that can also split it between the two at varying levels, essentially offering a volume dial for the engine.
So of course, when you give a man a loud button, he's going to use it—and as soon as the driver pulls his Camaro out of the garage around the 7:20 mark for the maiden voyage, you can hear interior panels rattling against the roll cage. After spending the next few minutes being a good neighbor and testing the system in a residential neighborhood, he picks up his girlfriend, presumably to fill the "cute girl looking shocked in the passenger seat" quota that YouTube recently initiated. If her concerned reaction isn't an indication that this Chevy is getting too loud, the moment of truth at 10:15 certainly does the trick.
The side curtains basically cut their visibility to zero (though it is a Camaro, so it's not like they had much to begin with), so they wisely pull over to assess what happened. He then takes it to his buddy's shop to cut out the airbags, where they all hypothesize that the airbag sensors for the newer Camaros are located almost directly above where the new exhaust dumps out, and the vibration and pressure set them off. Of course, given that Noweeds probably wouldn't be in business if that happened on the regular, it's entirely possible something went wrong with the car's wiring during installation.
His parting words for everyone? If you own a fifth-gen Camaro, disable your airbags before installing the exhaust. A brief two-second text warning notes that may be unsafe if you don't have a harness or roll cage. Can't think of anything wrong with that advice.
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