Mufflers are a required component on any vehicle that operates on roads in the United States. Mufflers serve two functions:
(1) To reduce exhaust system noise that is directed from exhaust ports to the exhaust pipes
(2) To help direct exhaust gases out of the engine
Most people think that mufflers are also an important part of vehicle emissions but the emissions are actually controlled by the catalytic converters; which are installed prior to the rear muffler and are designed to reduce dangerous chemicals produced by the engine. Mufflers, on the other hand, simply control the sound these gases make as the exit the vehicle. When mufflers become worn out or rusted, they typically lose their ability to effectively “muffle” the sound of the vehicle’s exhaust, making your car run very loudly.
Mufflers typically last five to seven years on most US vehicles but can become worn out prematurely if not taken care of. If you want your muffler to last as long as possible, here are a few things to avoid:
1) Exposure to salt.
This can be from driving on roads that are commonly iced or snowy or simply living in a saltwater in communities near the ocean. If you live in an area where this is unavoidable, like on the coast for example, be sure to wash your car frequently to avoid the buildup of salty deposits, and try to store the car in a garage when possible.
2) Friction and scraping.
If your exhaust is frequently hit on speed bumps, low clearance potholes, or other impact items, you’re in trouble. This scraping can create excessive wear, tears, or holes in the metal which will inevitably cause leaks. In extreme low-clearance scenarios, these objects can also put stress the peripheral parts that are holding your muffler in place; if the system is already old, rusted, or just in bad shape, they might pull your muffler clear off your car.
3) Excessive use or custom fabrication that is not recommended by the manufacturer.
Altering your exhaust in any way not approved by the manufacturer is not a good idea. This can cause all sorts of problems, like damaging your muffler.
Regardless of the precise cause, broken mufflers typically exhibit a few common symptoms that will alert the vehicle’s owner that a problem exists and needs to be repaired or replaced by an ASE certified technician. In our next article, we’ll discuss the warning signs of a broken, bad, or failing muffler that should be replaced.
Your exhaust system does more than just keep your car quiet – it also reroutes exhaust fumes away from the cabin, helps your engine run properly, and maintains optimum fuel efficiency– so it’s important to take care of exhaust issues in a timely manner. At V&F, our expert mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.