What is a Muffler and What Does it do?

Sun Devil Auto Expert, published on 06/10/2016

You may have heard people discuss mufflers at one point or another, but you should know about this important auto part. By learning about it, you will know when it is not working efficiently and when a new one needs to be obtained.

What Are Mufflers?

It’s in the name. Mufflers are responsible for muffling the sound created by a vehicle’s engine. Engines need to generate a ton of power, and, as a result, they create numerous pulsating sounds that reverberate through the exhaust valves. Thousands of these pulses are created every single minute. Without a properly working muffler, your vehicle is going to be incredibly noisy. In fact, excessive noise is a good way to tell if you require a new muffler.

The question then arises: How do mufflers cancel out this noise? If you were to open up a muffler, you would find a series of tubes, baffles, and chambers. These components work to reflect sound waves created by the engine. They are reflected in such a way that the waves actually cancel each other out. Different mufflers create a different range of noises. Some are designed to be silent while others are specifically designed to create what could be considered a growling sound.

Why Do Mufflers Go Bad?

There are a number of reasons why a muffler has gone bad. Due to being exposed to moisture and heat, mufflers will naturally degrade over time. Moisture causes the interior of mufflers to rust, which affects its quality. Your muffler may also go bad if your vehicle hits something that knocks against the component. If your car suddenly gets noisy, emits an unpleasant smell, or has a drastic drop in fuel economy, then it may be time to inspect your exhaust system.

Mufflers’ Effect on Performance

A muffler’s primary role is to reduce sound, but it can also play a role in your car’s overall performance. An engine is able to generate more power, faster if it is able to get rid of all of the exhaust gases it produces quickly. By their nature, mufflers restrict exhaust flow, or creates back pressure, which slightly slows down your engine. However, it is required by law to have a muffler within your vehicle, so some high-octane drivers will have to live with driving a vehicle with a muffler. However, plenty of muffler designs are out there, so you should have no problem finding one that suits your lifestyle.

If your ordinarily quiet ride suddenly becomes atrociously loud, then you should consider having your muffler examined, as a replacement may be in order.