Is There Such Thing as an Affordable Muffler?

You’re driving your usual route to work, and it seems you have to crank up the radio louder than usual just to drown out the sound of the exhaust. You suspect that it’s past time for a new muffler.

But with a family vacation in a few weeks, an appointment for braces for the oldest kid next month and a shopping trip for school supplies on the horizon, the last thing you want to do is have to take the car to the shop for a muffler replacement.

Is buying an affordable muffler even possible? You may be surprised to learn the answer.

Is an Affordable Muffler Too Good to Be True?

No, an affordable muffler is not too good to be true. Car troubles can often send people into worry mode, but it’s actually costing you more to drive around with a bad muffler than it would cost to replace it.

When the muffler is worn out or damaged, it can make the entire exhaust system less efficient. This can cause other parts of the exhaust to further wear out, meaning you’ll have to spend more to replace other parts as well. A poorly functioning exhaust system can also leave your vehicle with a worse fuel economy, and do you really want to be spending more at the pump?

Fortunately, you can find an affordable muffler and get your car sounding like new again. When shopping for a muffler replacement, you’ll want to pay attention to the muffler quality and the mechanic service to get the best deal.

Quality. When shopping for an affordable muffler, you may not want to buy the lowest-cost part you see. You’ll save more in the long run when you choose a higher-quality muffler. If you live in an area with cold, snowy winters, look for a muffler made with stainless steel. In warmer climates, an aluminized steel muffler is a better choice. Both options are durable and long-lasting. Be sure to buy a muffler that is compatible with your vehicle.

Service. If you’re looking for an affordable muffler replacement, go with a local, independent shop. Independent shops tend to have less overhead costs, and they can pass those savings on to customers like you. If you live in a more remote area, you’ll need to spend more time and money driving to a bigger city to go to a major chain, too. Overall, you may save about $15 to $20 per hour for the cost of labor when you work with a locally-owned mechanic shop over a big retailer.

Types of Mufflers

When you’re deciding between muffler replacement parts, you’ll want to understand the different types and how they may influence how your vehicle functions. You’ll want to keep in mind how each muffler type impacts your car’s performance, how it dampens noise and the cost. While a muffler may improve horsepower by about 10%, keep in mind that these performance results vary by more than just the type of muffler but also your vehicle and its other parts, too.

Chambered muffler. A chambered muffler is the most common muffler type and is considered ideal if you want to balance performance with good sound reduction. It works by channeling pressurized gas through inner chambers in the muffler. Sound waves bounce off of interior plates, reducing the noise. A chambered muffler can have a minor impact on horsepower and costs about $100 to $300 for parts.

Turbo muffler. Turbo mufflers have an S-shaped path that the gas moves through for a quieter, yet more restricted, flow. This type of muffler typically includes fiberglass packing for further noise reduction. A turbo muffler costs about $50 to $100 for parts, not including the cost of labor.

Straight-through muffler. While some people want a muffler that will quiet vehicle noises, others want something loud that will turn heads. That’s where a straight-through muffler, sometimes called a glass pack muffler or a cherry bomb, can come in. This muffler type has a single, perforated tube for less restriction and more noise. It may improve horsepower, but be aware that these noisy mufflers may not be legal in your area. If they are legal, you’ll spend about $50 to $300 on a new straight-through muffler.

Resonator. For a quiet, smooth-sounding ride, you can supplement the muffler with a resonator. This part, located between the catalytic converter and the muffler, takes noises from the engine and tunes them to be less aggressive. This means the sound is less like a buzzing or humming. Then, the sound moves to the muffler for noise reduction. A resonator costs about $40 to $300 before labor.

Baffle. Like the resonator, the baffle is a complementary part to the muffler for further noise reduction. A baffle is a perforated tube that is inserted into the muffler to restrict gas flow. Baffles can help reduce noise by about 3 to 15 decibels (dB), which can be helpful in keeping exhaust noise below legal limits in your area. In Cleveland, the noise ordinance prohibits vehicles louder than 95 decibels. This part costs about $30 to $250.

Average Muffler Prices

When you’re ready to replace the muffler, knowing common muffler costs can help you get an idea of how much to set aside in your budget for parts and labor.

How much does a muffler cost? The average price for a muffler replacement is about $200 to $400, although prices can range from about $50 for DIY installation of a turbo or straight-through muffler to over $500 for performance mufflers or over $1,000 to find the right original equipment manufacturer (OEM) muffler for your vehicle.

How much does it cost to fix a muffler? You may not need to replace the entire muffler. If you just need someone to replace clamps or weld a loose muffler back into place, you’ll spend about $30 to $400.

OEM vs. generic. OEM mufflers are the same muffler type that was installed in the vehicle at the factory, while a generic muffler or an aftermarket muffler is a different brand designed for a more universal fit. The benefit of OEM mufflers is that they are designed for your vehicle and will provide reliable performance, but they cost more. The average cost of an OEM muffler is $250 to $1,000. Aftermarket mufflers are more affordable, usually around $50 to $400, but you’ll need to be more discerning to find high-quality options.

Exhaust replacement cost. The exhaust system is made up of many parts, including the exhaust (and its resonator and baffles), the catalytic converter, the exhaust manifold and more. If the broken muffler has led to damage to other exhaust system parts, you could need to replace everything. Some vehicles may have welded mufflers, which means replacing the muffler involves replacing the entire exhaust. Replacing an exhaust costs about $300 to $1,200 on average. 

How Long Do Mufflers Last?

A muffler lasts about five to seven years before it’s time to start shopping for an affordable muffler replacement. However, regular wear and tear from driving over bumpy roads or potholes can shorten that timeframe. Not only that, but an old muffler can make the entire exhaust system less efficient and can ultimately lead to a decline in your fuel economy, which will cost you more every time you refill the gas tank.

Find an Affordable Muffler for Your Vehicle Today

As it turns out, buying a muffler doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, your local auto shop is ready to help you find an actually affordable muffler that doesn’t skimp on quality. Don’t drive around with a broken muffler — get it fixed today for an affordable rate and avoid causing further, more costly damage to your vehicle.

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