Muffler Making a Sound? Here’s What to Do


car muffler underneath a vehicle

Quick Facts About Mufflers

Many drivers like cars with big engines that make a lot of noise when accelerating. However, sometimes your vehicle being loud can be a problem, meaning something is wrong with the muffler. If your car is louder than usual or you hear weird sounds coming from beneath your vehicle, you will need to get your muffler checked.

Keep reading to know when you have a muffler problem and what to do about it.

What Is a Muffler?

A muffler is a metal canister, usually oval or cylindrical in shape, under your vehicle near the rear. Connecting the tailpipe to the exhaust pipe, the device limits how much noise emits from an internal combustion engine (ICE). Engines are big and powerful parts; without the muffler, the sound would be unbearable for most people. Reducing this noise is where the muffler comes in. It filters some excess noise from the engine and helps “muffle” it for a better driving experience.

If you start to notice that the noise from your car’s engine is louder than usual, that’s typically a sign that your muffler is going bad. Along with this, there are a few other signs that you may need a new muffler.

Signs Your Muffler Is Bad

A bad car muffler hanging off a vehicle.

Your muffler will let you know when it has gone bad. Since it works directly with the engine to reduce noise, you will likely know when it has gone bad.

1. The Car Sounds Louder Than Normal

This is the first sign that something may be wrong with your muffler. The main job of the muffler is to reduce the noise coming from the engine. If it is not properly doing its job, it’s time to take your car to a trusted auto repair shop.

Leaving this problem untreated can lead to further issues down the line and can even cause damage to the exhaust system.

2. Rattling Sound

Unlike the engine covered under the vehicle’s hood, the muffler is exposed at the bottom of the car. Since it’s not covered, it is vulnerable to impacts from rocks and debris, especially when hitting potholes, causing damage and breaks. This can cause a rattling sound, meaning that some part of the muffler or connected system has broken and has started hitting the muffler.

If something breaks and goes untreated, it can cause more damage and potentially impact other parts of the car. Go to a trusted mechanic to get a repair as soon as possible.

3. Rusted Muffler

A rusted muffler underneath a vehicle.

An easy way to know if your muffler needs a repair is to check it out underneath the car. Look for your muffler attached to the exhaust pipe at the back of your car. A muffler in good condition looks free of rust with no significant dents.

“Vehicles heat up and cool down as they are driven and parked,” said Gary Hardesty, a certified master technician and Kelley Blue Book’s in-house service and maintenance expert. “Moisture and condensation are part of the combustion process. A muffler has a small hole to allow excess moisture in the muffler to drain out. Any excess moisture can rust the exhaust system when a car cannot come up to temperature.”

4. Reduced Fuel Economy

The muffler connects to the exhaust pipe on the tail end of your car. When the muffler starts going bad, it will hinder how quickly exhaust can move through the pipes. The longer it takes for the exhaust to move, the worse the fuel economy gets — leading to reduced mileage.

In addition to fuel economy, the exhaust also plays a role in your car’s performance. A bad muffler can cause a reduction in acceleration as well.

What to Do If Your Muffler Is Bad

If you notice any of the above signs, it is best to get your muffler inspected by a trusted mechanic as soon as possible. Remember that the muffler works as part of a system to expel gasses from the engine, so if a problem is left untreated, it can cause harm to your engine.

While repair prices can vary depending on the problem or extent of the damage, get an inspection for accurate pricing. Keeping your vehicle in solid working condition keeps you safe on the road and helps you maintain the value of your car.

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