In our last article, we talked about things to avoid that can make your muffler wear prematurely or become damaged. But, regardless of the precise cause, failing mufflers typically exhibit a few common symptoms to alert the vehicle's owner that a problem exists and needs to be repaired. Below are a few of the warning signs that your muffler is broken, bad, or failing muffler, and needs to be repaired:
1) Engine is misfiring
Modern engines are finely tuned machines-- all components must work together in order to work effectively and efficiently. One of these systems is the vehicle's exhaust which starts at the exhaust valve chamber inside the cylinder head, flows to the exhaust headers, into the exhaust pipes, then to the catalytic converter, to the muffler, and finally out the exhaust pipe. When any of these components are damaged, it can impact vehicle performance, including causing engine misfiring. So, if the muffler has a hole or a leak inside the unit and loses its efficiency, it can cause misfiring in the engine, particularly when under deceleration.
2) Exhaust is louder than normal
Loud exhaust noise is usually the result of an exhaust leak, which commonly occurs in the muffler as opposed to the exhaust components located near the engine. As engine exhaust flows through the muffler, it goes through a series of chambers designed to reduce the vibrations coming through the exhaust. When the muffler is damaged or has a hole in it, this causes the exhaust to leak before it had been muffled, increasing the sound that comes out of the exhaust system.
While it is possible that exhaust leaks can occur before the muffler, in most cases, loud exhaust is caused by a leak in the muffler itself. In any case, a certified mechanic will need to inspect and repair the issue.
3) Condensation from the exhaust pipes
When the engine cools down from being run, the moisture in the air condenses inside the exhaust pipe and the muffler. This moisture sits there and slowly eats away at the exhaust pipe and the shell of the muffler. Over time and countless warm-up/cool-down cycles, the exhaust pipe and the seams of your muffler rust out and start to leak exhaust gases and noise. If you notice lots of condensation leaking from the exhaust pipe, especially in mid-day or warmer periods of the day where it should be evaporating, this might be a signal that the muffler is starting to wear out.
4) Check Engine Light
In most modern vehicles, the engine is full of sensors to alert the driver when a part is malfunctioning. If the check engine light pops up on your dashboard, especially if it's accompanied by misfiring or loud exhaust rumblings, a failing muffler could be the culprit.
Anytime your check engine light comes on, you should make an appointment with your mechanic as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your vehicle.
The muffler is a critical component of the complete operation of your vehicle, so any of the above warning signs should be taken seriously and inspire you to see a certified mechanic as soon as possible. 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.
This article was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated to reflect changing best practices.