Tesla Sound – How EVs are Changing Perceptions

Over recent years, the automotive industry especially Tesla Vehicles has seen a huge boom when it comes to an electric future.

Research and the focus of development programs have shifted by billions of dollars to develop new technologies to power electric vehicles. This is not an easy investment for car manufacturers but it promises a much greener and environmentally friendly way of life. Having said that, with the big sustainability movements in the past years, America’s electric vehicle industry is still at a very early stage.

Sounds Of Tesla Vehicles

One of the underrated concerns when it comes to adopting electric cars is how they sound. Yes, an electric vehicle produces as little sound as a humming fridge but are there ways to make your Tesla sound like a real race car, or even an ice cream van?

In this article, we explore why sound is so important when you drive, and how you can recreate the sound of a true V8 engine (and others) in your Tesla.

Why Car Sounds Matter

Before we jump into car sounds specifically for Tesla vehicles, we need to ask ourselves: Do car sounds matter?

Yes, they do, and much more than you might imagine. The importance of car sounds has been proven in quite a few free studies. But we don’t even need to dive deep into science to understand why the sound of a vehicle is so important to us.

Think of Hollywood movies and a racy car chase. You would instantly notice if the car sounded like a Volkswagen Beetle, rather than a fast and furious supercar.

It’s not only in movies that the sound of vehicles is essential. Although research has emerged only in the past few years, car manufacturers have instinctively understood the importance of car sounds since the beginning of the motor age.

Car brands that represent luxury and a sporty image also know that the sound of their vehicles can have a big impact on people’s buying decisions.

Over years, car owners have unconsciously learned to associate a certain car sound with the speed, power, and reliability of a particular car.

This meant that automakers adapted to their customers’ needs and created the perfect noise to make their vehicles sound luxurious and sporty.

This goes surprisingly far as manufacturers go through painstaking processes of perfecting the signature sounds for their car design and technology.

However, while this is a factor in attracting customers, it can also go wrong when the automaker suddenly chooses to change this sound.

A good example is Porsche who originally used air cooling for their vehicles’ combustion engines but switched to water cooling a few years back.

This changed the original “lion roar” of the car which customers so loved. After several customer complaints, Porsche reintroduced the air cooling sound by playing the sound through the car’s speakers.

This example shows how much people have become used to a certain car sound. And not only that. They also associate the vehicle’s sound with the qualities of a car brand.

After all, if you pay a lot of money for a particular car, then you want to make sure it looks and sounds unique.

However, often we only realize that car sound affects the car experience when the sound changes.

If you want to know more about the effect of car sounds, then take a look at this article The Science Of How Car Sounds Seduce Our Brains.

What Sound Do Electric Cars Make?

The simple answer is none. As electric vehicles don’t have a combustion engine, there is no sound coming from the exterior of the car.

As we have seen, this has a big impact on the driving experience, which the automotive industry has solved with fake engine noises. We’ll take a look at this below.

However, there is a greater safety concern with the lack of engine noise. At low speeds, electric cars hardly emit any sound other than the tires running over the surface.

This can be dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, as they won’t be able to hear any approaching electric vehicles.

For the safety of all road users and in anticipation of a large increase in electric vehicles, the EU introduced a law called The Regulation on the Sound Level of Motor Vehicles in 2019. The US has a similar law in place as well.

This law does exactly what it says on the tin. It sets down rules and legal requirements for all-electric cars to ensure they produce sound at low speed (up to 12.5mph).

This applies to when the vehicle is going forward, as well as when it’s reversing.

Therefore, from 2019 all-new fully electric cars have to be fitted with an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS). This would warn the road users of an EV’s presence.

Auto manufacturers made the most of this new regulation and they installed external speakers on their new electric vehicles.

The warning noise of the AVAS cannot be switched off. However, some car manufacturers decided to change the volume of the sound in line with the car’s speed.

As the sound is only external, most drivers and passengers won’t be able to hear it.

Tesla started the installation of external speakers for their EV in autumn 2019.

The car manufacturer chose to allow everyone access to the feature, so all Tesla owners have to do is to connect a USB device to the vehicle and you have the option to save five customized sounds.

Do Tesla Cars Make A Noise?

Just like any electric vehicle, Tesla cars don’t make an actual engine noise as there is no combustion engine to provide the sound.

However, with updated US regulations on EV sounds coming into effect in 2019, each Tesla sold does now have a built-in, external speaker to produce fake engine noises.

This is to ensure that pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users can hear the car approach and act accordingly.

How Loud Are Electric Tesla Cars Inside?

Before we explore the options for Tesla’s exterior sound system, it’s worth taking a look at all the interior sounds of an electric Tesla as they can also impact your driving experience.

If you have ever wondered how much road noise an electric Tesla produces, then here is your answer.

Most of the electric Tesla cars produce between 60dB – 70dB inside the cabin when driving 60mph.

This is only slightly less than EVs from other car manufacturers, and even diesel and petrol cars.

At higher speeds, the Tesla models are noisier but still compare well with their competition.

Tesla Road Noise Reduction

One of Tesla’s pieces of hardware combating noise inside the cabin is their road noise reduction system.

This consists of a pair of active noise-canceling microphones that are integrated into the two front seats.

This feature has existed already for quite a while but Tesla decided to improve the functionality and called it Active Road Noise Reduction.

These built-in microphones pick up all the road noises inside the cabin and cancel them out. Tesla even claims to create quiet zones around passengers with the speakers of the audio system.

How To Reduce Noise Inside A Tesla Electric Car?

While it’s never going to be 100% quiet in any vehicle that moves, electric cars have set a new high standard when it comes to noise reduction.

Although you can never remove every sound in a car, there are quite a few ways that may help to reduce different car noises inside the cabin.

Reduce Wind Noise In A Tesla Car

A significant source of noise in any car is the wind hitting the windscreen and other exterior surfaces of the vehicle.

This wind causes turbulent airflow which leads to an increase in the noise volume.

One of the biggest culprits for wind noise is the gaps in the panoramic sunroof. You can counteract this by using a noise reduction kit to fill in the gaps with a rubber seal.

This will allow the air to flow smoothly over the gaps around the sunroof and therefore produce a lot less noise.

The sealing kit is quick and easy to install, and the effect is instantly noticeable because the sunroof is so close to your ears.

Equally to the gaps in the sunroof, gaps in the door panels also cause a significant amount of noise.

Here you can use an affordable door seal kit. This just takes half an hour to install and can reduce the noise level inside the car cabin by up to 4db.

A big plus with the door seal kit is that it also keeps your door sills clean because all the mud and dirt kicked up by the front wheels can’t get into the gaps of the door panels.

Reduce Road Noise In A Tesla Car

Another big contributor to cabin noise in a Tesla is road noise. This can have different sources, such as the tires, brakes, pavement, and electric motor.

The noise from the pavement and the tires is probably the biggest culprit.

The majority of road noise comes in through the trunk because this part of the car doesn’t have any sound insulation, and as a hollow space, the noise reverberates.

The best way to reduce noise from the trunk is to use cotton trunk pads that cover all the bare metal inside the trunk and therefore insulate this space.

It just takes a few minutes to install the pads. They are available for back and front trunks.

The bonus of cotton trunk pads is that they are also a great temperature insulation that keeps an even temperature in the trunk (especially handy in summer when you want to keep your food shopping cool).

Tesla Driving Sounds

Now that we know what can affect your Tesla driving experience inside the cabin, what road noises can you expect outside?

We already know that since 2019 every Tesla vehicle has had an in-built speaker emitting false engine sounds to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other road users.

This fake engine noise is played through the exterior speakers as well as through the interior audio system.

While these sounds cannot be turned off, the volume can be adjusted either automatically or manually.

However, Tesla decided to not just use this feature for safety purposes but also open it up to all other sounds a car owner might want to hear.

Some Tesla drivers may find this new feature ruins their electric car experience but the majority of Tesla lovers enjoy the flexibility of all the sounds it gives them.

Here are a few of the fake sound options for your Tesla.

Tesla Boombox

As part of Tesla’s sound system inside and outside the vehicle, they released a remote software update called Boombox.

Boombox allows drivers to choose their preferred sounds for their Tesla. Car owners can choose from a range of different engine sounds.

There is even a choice of horn sounds, and the option to play music outside the car (through the external built-in speakers).

While this update was originally a big step towards greater road safety, Tesla tried to add more fun to the driving experience.

This move has proven very successful with Tesla owners. It doesn’t just help keep pedestrians, the visually impaired, and other road users safe, but it can even reduce incidents caused by road rage.

When you consider how drivers associate certain sounds with particular car designs and brands, giving car owners a choice to fully customize their car’s sounds to their liking is a big bonus.

Find The Best Tesla Boombox Sound For You

With the many different sound options available with Boombox, you can choose the one you like most.

Make your Tesla sound like a computer shutting down or an old-fashioned 64K modem. The choice is yours.

You can also easily adjust the horn sound to whatever you prefer.

If you can’t pick a sound from the large choice online, then you can also opt for recording your own.

Some of our favorite Boombox engine sounds are:

  • A car engine not starting
  • PC shutdown
  • 64K modem
  • Chevy engine

We also love the air horn and the truck horn sounds.

All of the sounds for your Tesla electric model are .mp3 audio files which means you are free to create your own.

How Do You Change Sounds With The Tesla Boombox?

As Tesla introduced the Boombox tool rather quietly, it’s still a riddle to some Tesla owners to find the feature.

Here are some of the sounds you can change, and how to locate them on your dashboard.

Changing Your Tesla’s Horn Sound With Boombox

One way to make your car unique is by changing the sound of the vehicle’s horn. This can be done in just a few easy steps.

First, go into the Toybox selection, and tap Boombox.

Next, you need to turn on the Horn Sound and slide the Replace Horn tab. Now you can select your favorite horn sound.

You need to have the Replace Horn section selected if you want to play the horn sound through the internal and external speakers.

Under the same menu option, you can also pick your preferred level for the car’s horn. This comes in handy when you first try out a few horn sounds.

You can then set the sound level to a minimum and test the different sounds. Just don’t forget to put the sound level up again once you find the sound you like.

Changing The Slow Driving Sound Of Your Tesla

Changing your horn sound is already great, but it’s not what you hear most of the time. That’s why it’s great to have a few options for updating the engine sound.

To change your Tesla’s driving sound, you select the Toy Box option and pick Boombox.

Then slide the Driving Sound tab and pick your preferred option.

There are quite a few stock options available, such as Elevator music and different engine sounds.

Bear in mind that this is just the idling or slow sound option. It switches off when your car goes faster than 12mph.

Changing The Sound For Tesla’s Summoning Feature

Besides being able to change the horn and engine sounds for your Tesla, you can also adjust the sound of your e-car when you want to control the summoning feature.

To change your EV’s summon sound, go into the Toybox menu, and select Boombox. Then move the Summon slider and pick your favorite option.

Just like with the driving sounds and the horn, you have a vast range of sounds available.

How To Make Your Electric Car Fart

One of the sounds that many Tesla car owners had plenty of fun with is the farting sound.

Of course, Tesla already had the typical prank of farting sounds when a passenger sits down in the car, but with the Boombox feature, you can now replay this sound through the vehicle’s external speaker.

If you want to make your electric Tesla fart, just select the Toolbox option, then enter the Emissions menu and pick your preferred fart from the list.

If you want to set up your electric Tesla to play the farting sound on demand, you just need to select the first fart sound available on the fart list.

Once this is done, the car will play the sound when you use the left scroll wheel.

Alternatively, you can also select for the car to fart every time you indicate to turn.

How To Add Customized Sounds To Your Electric Tesla

If you can’t find a sound you like, then you can also add your sounds, noises, and songs to your car.

The best way to do this is to wipe a USB stick or drive. Add your preferred .mp3 audio files on the drive (make sure the file names don’t contain any spaces) and plug them into your Tesla.

Then go into the Toybox option, select the Boombox feature and pick your new music or sounds from the shown dropdown menu.

This is a handy and fun way to add new sounds for the car’s horn, engine, and summon feature.

Fake Engine Noise: A New Trend?

As one of the main safety laws for electric cars, fake engine noise is a built-in feature.

However, the great sound options that Tesla Boombox offers prove there is no limit to your sound imagination.

Whether you want a classic V8 engine sound or an old-fashioned tractor noise, you can just pick it up from a dropdown menu.

These false sounds can genuinely improve our individual driving experience.

While most drivers today want plenty of power and fuel-saving options, they also prefer to associate these things with the right (old) sounds.

Car manufacturers achieve this in different ways but generally, each electric car has an internal and external audio system that can play all kinds of sounds.

With the trend towards quieter cars, fake engine and horn sounds are here to stay and enjoy.

Do Electric Cars Contribute To Noise Pollution?

Electric cars are one of the quieter types of vehicles ever built. An overall trend hints at engines getting quieter, and therefore also making roads quieter.

Although this has the disadvantage that not all road users can hear electric cars, for all residents near a busy road, this is a positive trend that will ultimately impact people’s wellbeing.

As a rule of thumb, electric vehicles create roughly 40 dB, which is similar to the average noise of a fridge.

This low sound is not made by an engine but caused by the tires, the road surface, and the wind.

In addition, EVs also don’t produce gear noises, exhaust or fuel-pumping noises.

In comparison, cars that run on diesel and petrol create a lot of mechanical noises, all of which add up and create not only air pollution but also noise pollution on roads across the country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute queries answered here!

Which Tesla Is The Quietest?

All Tesla models now have the brand’s Active Noise Canceling feature which is said to help with canceling noise inside the cabin.

Why Does Tesla Make Noise When Parked?

When you park on a very hot day or after a long journey, you may fear the fan running in your Tesla.

This is effectively the cooling system that ensures electronic controls and the battery don’t overheat.

The correct running of the fan helps to prolong the lifespan of the car’s battery and its electronics.

Can You Make A Tesla Sound Like A Hellcat?

Yes, you can make your Tesla sound like a hellcat engine. With Tesla’s Boombox feature, you can choose from a large list of different engine and horn sounds.

If you want to make your Tesla sound like a hellcat, you should choose the Dodge Challenger Hellcat sound file.


We spend so much time in our car throughout our life that we know each potential sound it can make.

Sometimes we can even hear when something is wrong, and the car needs to be looked over by a mechanic. This is not weird or unusual. We simply enjoy certain sounds to create the best driving experience.

As electric cars don’t have a combustion engine, they don’t come with the natural sound of old-fashioned mechanics.

As a legal requirement and added safety feature, all EVs now have a full external sound system that can play fake engine sounds (or other noises) to alert other road users.

Over the last years, this has developed into a big customization trend, particularly for Tesla owners because Tesla has given their customers a huge range of sounds to change the driving and horn sounds.

We believe that while overall engines are getting quieter, this has allowed a huge trend for more individual and cleaner cars to emerge.

This does not only keep drivers happy but it means other road users and residents near a road can enjoy a lot less noise pollution.

Michael Schuck

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