What Does a Muffler Do? Explanation of the Function, Maintenance, and Repair

Your exhaust system, and namely the muffler, are crucial to your vehicle’s performance. Therefore, it’s important to have some understanding of the muffler’s basic function. Otherwise, you’re at a higher risk for muffler damage, and all of the repercussions that come along with that.
A defective muffler can cause excessive noise pollution, a decrease in fuel efficiency, and lowered engine performance. It can also potentially cause a harmful environment for passengers inside the vehicle.

What Does a Muffler Do?

Decrease Engine Sound

Most people know that the muffler “muffles” or reduces the sound of the engine. It’s designed to act as a sound proofing device.  It directs the engine’s sound waves through sets of internal tubes and chambers. These tubes and chambers are designed to partially cancel out the sound waves, giving you a nice, quiet engine.

Protect You From Fumes

There’s more to a muffler than just “muffling”. Another key function of the exhaust is to steer the exhaust fumes out of the engine and away from the passengers in the car. If there is a crack or hole in the muffler, the fumes can easily make their way inside the car.  Exhaust fumes contain chemicals such as carbon monoxide, and other high hazardous toxins. These can cause serious harm to you and your passengers.

Why Mufflers Need to Be Replaced

The internal and external components that make up the muffler can deteriorate over time. It’s important to be aware that it’s a part that will eventually need replacement. The frequency with which it needs to be serviced depends upon where you live and how often your vehicle is used.

External Rust

The most common reason for a muffler to fail is rust. Rust forms on the outside of the muffler when it’s exposed to excessive amounts of road salt during the winter.

Internal Rust

Rust can also form internally due to condensation from normal day-to-day use.  It’s normal to see water droplets come from your exhaust when you first start up the car. The droplets are a byproduct of the condensation that forms when the exhaust is hot and cools down.
Unfortunately, the water doesn’t always completely drain out. That’s what causes internal rust.  A steady stream of water coming out of the muffler can be an indicator of  excessive rust or rot.

How to Know When Your Muffler Needs to be Replaced

Excessive Noise

Loud noise is the most common sign that it’s time to replace your muffler. When your car gets very loud, it can also start to feel a little sluggish. That’s likely because your muffler has separated from the rest of your exhaust system. Or, excessive rust may have created a hole in the part.
Any vibrations you hear, or rattling you feel, underneath the car can also indicate a faulty muffler.

Decrease in Fuel Efficiency

You may notice that your car is running hotter than normal, or see a decrease in fuel efficiency. This could be caused by the internal chambers of the muffler rusting apart.  If that happens, exhaust gases cannot escape properly.

Risks of Not Replacing Your Muffler

Remember, there’s more to the muffler than muffling sound. It also protects everyone’s safety in your vehicle. If you take your chances driving around when it needs repair, you’ll only put yourself and your vehicle at risk. You could even get a ticket for excessive noise!
You should now be able to answer the question “what does a muffler do?” In addition, you now know the importance of maintaining and repairing your exhaust system, so make sure it remains a priority! 

If you think there’s an issue with you muffler or exhaust bring your vehicle to a certified mechanic to have it inspected right away .

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Openbay Staff