By Dave Russell


The Sylva town board last Thursday approved an ordinance to Amend Section 36 of the town’s code of ordinances to outlaw jake-braking. Board member Barbara Hamilton had brought up the issue at the Aug. 27 meeting. 

According to a resolution presented by acting town Manager Mike Morgan, “a compression release engine brake, frequently called a Jacobs brake or Jake brake, is an engine braking mechanism installed on some diesel engines. When activated, it opens exhaust valves to the cylinders, right before the compression stroke ends, releasing the compressed gas trapped in the cylinders, and slowing the vehicle.”

The use of compression release engine brakes causes the vehicle to make a loud chattering or “machine gun/jackhammer-like” exhaust noise, especially vehicles having high flow mufflers, or no mufflers at all, the resolution said.

Properly installed mufflers will reduce the excessive noise and vibration emitted, and the Department of Transportation allows the installation of “Unmuffled Engine Braking Prohibited” signs on DOT right-of-way inside municipal limits.

“If you choose to pass this ordinance, it will give us some more teeth as far as the unmuffled engine braking systems,” Morgan told the board. “This will not stop all the noise, but if it is an unmuffled activity, then we would have something to control it with.”

Mayor Lynda Sossamon said she had heard from town residents about the issue.

Sossamon called for a vote and the resolution passed unanimously.