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Muffler Vs. Exhaust: What’s the Difference?

When you look at the back of another vehicle and see the exhaust pipe sticking out, do you refer to it as the muffler?  What does a muffler do? Have you wondered what the exhaust actually is? In this article, we discover the difference between the two.

Your vehicle’s engine produces a hefty amount of harmful emissions that come from the combustion chamber that need to be converted into safe gasses and released away from the vehicle and into the air. This is where the exhaust system comes in. Mufflers, as part of the exhaust system, have their own job to do by muffling sound that is produced by the engine. Read on for a more comprehensive explanation on the difference between muffler and exhaust.

The job of the exhaust system is to keep dangerous gases out of the vehicle and prevent occupants from getting sick and to quiet the exhaust noise. The exhaust system is comprised of many pipes and pieces that work in conjunction to provide a way for exhaust gasses to escape the engine under the vehicle. These parts include the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, tailpipe, resonator, and muffler.

car exhaust pipeAn exhaust manifold is the first step in removing harmful emissions. It collects the depleted gases from each cylinder within the combustion chamber in the engine and forces them through the exhaust pipe. From there, the catalytic converter, aptly named for its function, uses a catalyst to convert the dangerous emissions into carbon dioxide and water vapor. While the emissions emitted are still considered harmful to the environment, they are much less harmful than what the engine produces. In some cases, the exhaust system makes the fumes that are expelled much cleaner to help reduce emissions and protect the environment. The tailpipe is the last piece of the exhaust system that directs the exhaust gases out and away from the vehicle.

Mufflers are soundproofing devices that reduce the sound of the engine utilizing acoustic sound muffling. Made up of chambers or pipe, with holes in them, that is capable of producing a wave that removes certain sound frequencies. The exhaust gases, along with the sound waves, enter the center tube and bounce off the rear wall of the muffler and are reproduced through a hole within the main body of the muffler. Lastly, they pass through a set of holes into a second chamber, where they are then released through the last pipe and out of the muffler, entirely. While reducing sound is the key assignment for this part, it is challenged with maximizing air flow simultaneously. A better flow rate equals a better performance for the vehicle. The balance between airflow and volume changes drastically when the muffler develops leaks; it is essential to repair or replace the muffler when leaks are detected. The resonator is similar to the muffler in that it changes the vibrations from the engine within the exhaust system. This component is used to organize, and tune vibration sounds, as well as increase the effectiveness of exhaust flow which helps increase performance and improve fuel efficiency.

Muffler and exhaust difference is easy to understand when you know that the muffler is actually part of the exhaust system. While the exhaust system is composed of many pipes, clamps, and sensors, there are many parts that are part of the system. When the check engine light is on, it’s possible there is an ailing component within the exhaust system. If the vehicle is making more noise while driving, your muffler may be telling you something is wrong. In either case, if you notice your vehicle is not performing as well as it once was, or there is a significant decrease in fuel efficiency, your exhaust system may need an inspection by a qualified technician.

The exhaust system is a complex system that only someone with the proper knowledge and experience should handle. Certified Technicians, like the kind that are employed by Sun Devil Auto, have the credentials to provide the expertise that is needed for repairs to the exhaust system. You’ll be pleased to know that we have locations all across the Valley to serve you. For your convenience, we offer same day service (in most cases), online appointment scheduling, and free towing with major repairs. We maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and have been ranked #1 four years in a row by Ranking Arizona in Automotive Full Service & Repair. Come in to see for yourself what makes Sun Devil Auto the favorite of all Phoenicians by bringing your vehicle to any of our many locations today.