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Why Does The VQ Engine Sound Bad?

The Sad Trombone

If you’re even remotely into cars, you’ve likely heard the distinct low brass sound of the Nissan VQ35 engine, particularly,  the 350z and Infiniti G35. But what makes these cars sound the way they do, and how can you make them sound better?

Yeah Science B!tch

To get our answer to this question we need to start at the source. When broken down all we are looking at is frequency. When an object vibrates it creates a pressure wave. In this case creating that pressure wave in the air. The amount of times these pressure waves are created is what we refer to as frequency. As you can imagine different engines produce different frequencies. In our case the standard frequency of a V6 engine is derived to be right around 90Hz at 1800 rpm. The equation for that looks like this (1800/60)*3. 1800 being our RPM, 60 being how many RPM = 1 revolution per second or 1 hz, and multiplied by three since that is how many ignition events happen in a 4 stroke V6 crankshaft per revolution. Now that was a lot of numbers that I just threw at you, however the main thing you need to know is that the variable in this equation, you can imagine is the amount of cylinders. So if we had let’s say a 4 Cylinder engine that gives us 2 ignition events per rotation of the crankshaft, using the same equation we are looking at 60Hz at 1800 RPM. And for a V8, you would multiply by 4 and get 120Hz. Creating the frequency, or sound waves, or bangs, or whatever you want to call it, is just the beginning. Once these frequencies are created, it all comes down to how they are collected, or gathered, and expelled from the engine out to where it reaches our eardrums. These factors include but are not limited to, the engine layout, shape, firing order, exhaust manifolds, and of course the exhaust itself.

The Remedy

From there it all boils down to engine design and exhaust setup. The VQ35, a 3.5-liter V6 engine, combined with factors like firing order and exhaust manifold configuration, creates its unique sound profile. Early models with unequal length headers produce a characteristic tone, while later iterations with equal length headers offer a smoother sound. When it comes to aftermarket exhausts, quality matters in being able to make these things sound “Good”. Straight piping, a common but misguided modification, often leads to memeable exhaust note that these cars are known for. Instead, opt for resonated systems with larger diameter pipes to refine the engine’s tone and reduce raspiness. Here are some of our recommendations:

Invidia Gemini Catback Exhaust: A resonated system with integrated x-pipe and mufflers, offering a balanced tone suitable for daily driving.

Tomei Expreme Exhaust: Crafted from titanium, this single exit exhaust delivers a louder, sportier sound without sacrificing quality.

Tanabe Revel Medallion Exhaust: A quieter alternative with a sophisticated tone, ideal for those who prioritize comfort and refinement.

Getting your VQ engine to sound good is entirely possible, though it requires thoughtful selection of aftermarket exhaust components to do so. By taking your time, doing your research, and investing in quality parts, you can unlock a tolerable exhaust note for your car. So whether you’re looking at a new exhaust or other aftermarket parts, mod your car at MartiniWorks.

Alexander Gelina

Alex Gelina "Also Known as Gels"