When mobile electronics installers do a massive 12V sound system for a customer (especially a younger customer), most shops will impart the wisdom learned from years of experience with noise ordinances and law enforcement: Keep the booming to the highway or parking-lot show-offs. Don’t crank the bass at 3:30 a.m., and wake up the neighborhood. The secondary benefit to this is to keep it stealthy when close to home. This makes the sound system less of a target for theft. In addition to sound systems, some shops will also install aftermarket exhaust systems for muscle cars or Harley-Davidsons. While enthusiasts find it appealing, it can annoy your neighbors. Many find the loud growl of a Mustang to be fun and exciting, but there are some who prefer a quieter purr.
Someone, in fact, called the cops on Ford engineer Steve von Foerster. The former head of vehicle engineering for Ford Motor Company wasn’t thrilled, but he understood why. On an otherwise peaceful morning in his suburban Detroit neighborhood, von Foerster had just backed a Shelby GT350 Mustang out of his driveway. As the Mustang’s V8 engine thundered, an annoyed neighbor set aside their coffee cup and dialed 911. Von Foerster had left before the officers arrived, and he didn’t end up with a ticket. Nor did he get angry. What he got was an idea for the new Mustang.
Foerster then set about to find a solution to the problem. According to a recent poll by Ranker.com, loud-engine revving ranks among the most annoying noises neighbors make. Also appearing high up on the list are nuisances such as power tools, lawnmowers, barking dogs, and band practice. Von Foerster noted, “I love the sound of the V8, but it can be loud, and you can’t annoy people like that in your neighborhood. It sounds so cool, but I thought, ‘There has to be a way to give people more control over the engine’s sound.’”
What’s Behind Quiet Start
So the 2018 Ford Mustang will be the first to feature Quiet Start, also known as ‘Good Neighbor Mode.’ It allows the end user to schedule the time of day when the Mustang GT V8 will roar and when to keep it quiet to show courtesy to neighbors. The system uses active valves and the engine management system to control the volume. We know what you are thinking… if this is an OEM solution, the results will probably not be dramatic. But purportedly, the results are in the 10dB range between quiet and loud. While some sports cars offer active exhaust systems with on/off functionality, Mustang’s Quiet Start is the first to allow scheduling of times. Using steering-wheel-mounted thumb controls, drivers toggle through a menu in the instrument cluster to select when they want to fire up their Mustang GT without sharing the event with neighbors. For example, between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., drivers can keep the peace by scheduling their car to start, minus the roar. In fact, with Ford’s partnership with Amazon’s Alexa, we wonder if future generations of Quiet Start can be integrated into the SYNC 3 telematics platform, and you can tell your Mustang to start quiet or loud…
Both new Quiet Exhaust mode and Quiet Start features will be part of the available active valve performance exhaust system on the new Mustang GT. So the customers have additional choices; there are different exhaust volumes for Normal, Sport and Track modes. “Active valve performance exhaust gives Mustang owners the best of both worlds – that classic Mustang sound, and the ability to not wake up your neighbors when you leave the house early in the morning or arrive home late at night,” said Matt Flis, Ford exhaust development engineer. “When sounds get up into the upper-70-decibel range, that’s typically about when they start to bother people,” said Flis. “With Quiet Start activated, the decibel level of the new Mustang GT drops by about 10 decibels, to a much more comfortable 72 decibels – about the level of a household dishwasher.” On Mustang GTs equipped with the newly available all-digital 12-inch instrument cluster, the exhaust mode menu appears within the pony menu. With the standard 4-inch cluster, the exhaust modes are found within the settings menu.
We applaud Ford for this new way of thinking to keep everyone happy. Moreover, we are excited about the aftermarket possibilities for all sorts of vehicles that typically growl. Active exhaust systems with electronic controls are getting more reliable. But the ability to control them and integrate them with smartphones and remote start systems (imagine the ability to program quiet mode as the default when remote starting) is mind-blowing. There are a handful of people that will always piss off their neighbors with loud engines. But most of us are looking for peace. We love aftermarket solutions that can increase the peace - and let it rip, when appropriate.