How to Know If Your Muffler Needs to be Repaired or Replaced

You hear a lot of unusual noise when you crank up the engine and accelerate, and there are fumes and a burnt smell surrounding your car. It might be time for muffler repair.

No one looks forward to unexpected and un-budgeted car repairs. The good news is that the noise and fumes coming from your car may not necessarily mean you need a whole new muffler. A lot of the time, the problem is with a component of your exhaust system — not the muffler itself.

Shops with the ability to repair and replace individual components of your exhaust system can prevent you from having to fully replace everything, which can end up saving you a lot of money. How do you know if you need muffler repair or a full replacement? Here are the top three signs to look (and listen) for.


#1: There’s a lot of noise.

The muffler’s primary job is to cancel out and dampen exhaust gases and sound waves created by the engine. Generally speaking, your vehicle should run smoothly and quietly. If your car is louder than normal when you crank it up, rattles when you are sitting idle or is especially noisy when you accelerate, it could be an issue with your muffler or another component of your exhaust system.


#2: You smell fumes.

If you see a lot of exhaust smoke coming from your tailpipe or smell fumes while driving, it could be your muffler. Exhaust fumes smell different than gasoline fumes. Exhaust fumes have a distinct burnt smell. Be careful: what you smell could be carbon monoxide escaping through holes in your muffler or exhaust pipe. If this is the case, get it checked out and fixed immediately. Exhaust gases can be fatal if you breathe them in long enough.


#3: You notice a change in your gas mileage.

Your muffler helps regulate how fast exhaust flows out of your vehicle. When the exhaust system is not functioning properly, your engine has to work overtime to get enough compressive force. If you're stalling out, your car is not accelerating normally or you notice a change in your overall gas mileage, it could be your muffler.


The Importance of a Healthy Exhaust System

Your car’s exhaust system is responsible for moving exhaust gasses and harmful emissions created by the internal combustion process away from your vehicle. The muffler is sometimes located right under your vehicle’s backseat, but it's becoming more common for it to be under the trunk.

The exhaust system is much more complex than just a muffler. It includes many components including the exhaust manifold, absorption pipe, catalytic converter, resonator and a muffler connected to the tailpipe. All together, these components play an important role in keeping your vehicle running smoothly and quietly.

Hot exhaust gas and sound waves are pushed to the exhaust manifold through the exhaust valve every time the engine cylinder fires. The sound and gas then move through a pipe to the catalytic converter, where harmful gases are converted into a less toxic mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor. Everything then goes through the muffler, which has chambers to cancel out the exhaust gases and sound waves.

Every day, your muffler and exhaust system is exposed to high temperatures that can cause cracks and holes in the pipes and tubing over time. Moisture gets into the system and settles to the bottom, causing rust in the muffler and other system components. Everywhere there is pipe that has been connected or welded together in your exhaust system, the carbon in the metal — the only real corrosion protection — has been compromised.


Muffler Repair and Replacement

A custom muffler shop that can fabricate new exhaust pipes or replace segments of your exhaust system can often cut a piece of replacement pipe and bend it to fix the problem without requiring you to fully replace your muffler or exhaust system. This can save you hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in the long run.

A typical factory muffler should last about three to five years. It’s a good idea to have your mechanic look at your exhaust system as part of your regular car maintenance, and if you notice unusual noise and fumes or a change in gas mileage, always have a technician take a look.

Ask your mechanic to explain to you exactly what is wrong with your exhaust system before ordering a complete replacement. Often, replacing just a part or component is all you really need. A good technician knows how to check your system properly and what to look for — and catching the problem early can prevent bigger, more expensive problems down the road.

Do you think your muffler needs to be repaired or replaced? To learn more about custom exhaust work and our made-in-the-USA exhaust inventory, contact Rainbow Muffler & Brake today or stop in for a free estimate at one of our Cleveland Ohio auto repair shops, or our Northfield road auto shop in Maple Heights, Ohio!


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