If you have been a motorist or been around cars for a little while, you have probably come across mufflers. While you may have heard of a muffler, most people do not know what a muffler is or what it does. That is until it breaks.
When a muffler breaks, it’s pretty easy to notice. Its main job is to control the noise emanating from the engine bay. When the muffler breaks down, you will immediately notice a very loud noise. And, every time you drive along your street, you’ll probably get some annoyed neighbors twitching their curtains or eventually getting in touch with you.
As well as keeping noise pollution down to a minimum, mufflers are designed to help increase a vehicle’s performance. A muffler also acts as protection for you and the passengers within your vehicle, especially in terms of hearing protection.
The question remains – what exactly does a muffler do and how does it work? In today’s blog, we will be answering these questions so you can find out if your muffler needs replacing or not.
What is a muffler?
As the name suggests, a muffler “muffles” the sound from the engine. This contraption is responsible for drowning the sound out and limiting the noise levels entering a vehicle’s cabin area and exiting into the outside world.
As you can imagine, car engines need to generate a great deal of power. The result is usually a manifestation of pulsating sounds that reverberate throughout your vehicle’s exhaust pipes and valves. Every single minute, thousands of these pulsating sounds are generated throughout the exhaust system. If your muffler is not working correctly, then your vehicle will become unbelievably noisy. And, this is the best way to find out if your vehicle requires a new muffler or not.
So, now we know what a muffler does, how do mufflers cancel out the engine noise? Let’s find out below.
How does a muffler work?
When you open a muffler up, you will find a series of chambers, tubes, and baffles. These work together to reflect sound waves that have been created by the car’s engine. These sound waves are reflected in a way that they actually cancel each other out. However, one muffler may produce a different range of noises to another. Some are designed to help the car become completely silent while others are manufactured to create a louder, more growling sound. The latter sound is synonymous with sports cars and more powerful vehicles.
As we said, the inside of a muffler sports a set of perforated tubes. These tubes reflect sound waves made by the engine to minimize the amount of noise that leaves your vehicle as well as enters its cabin space. These tubes also help to remove exhaust fumes from the engine which, in turn, helps to improve and increase the vehicle’s overall performance. And, most importantly, these gases are directed away from your vehicle’s interior so you and your passengers are not exposed to any harmful side effects.
Along with the sound waves, the exhaust enters the muffler through a central tube. The sound waves then bounce off the back wall of the muffler before being pushed into the main body of the muffler. Once the sound waves are inside the muffler’s main body section, they will pass through a series of small holes that directs them to the last chamber. Eventually, these will leave the exit pipe with hardly any sound waves left.
As we mentioned, mufflers do more than just drown out engine sounds. They are also important for helping increase the performance of a vehicle.
The more oxygen your engine takes in, the more power it can generate. Therefore, the faster a vehicle’s engine can remove any exhaust games, the faster oxygen can be taken in and the greater its performance can be.
So, a muffler slows this process down, right? Well, you could release exhaust fumes and intake air quicker without a muffler but you will be violating road rules. You will probably end up with a substantial noise violation ticket from your local authority. This is because noise levels are typically monitored very strictly in most states.
However, don’t be upset by this and think that you would be better off without a muffler. These contraptions are designed to perform their functions in the best interest of a vehicle’s performance. Over the years, manufacturers and experts have improved the design of mufflers and made them as efficient as possible. Therefore, they help to minimize exhaust exit times while keeping your vehicle’s sound level within noise regulations.
Why does a muffler break?
As with any component associated with your vehicle, a muffler can deteriorate the older it gets. This includes its internal features as well as external parts. However, the age of your vehicle, how often you use it, and the area in which you drive most frequently tend to determine how quickly a muffler will begin to wear.
External rust is one of the most common reasons why mufflers start to break. This rust starts to eat at the exhaust pipe and holes start to develop. Rust tends to form on the outside of the muffler and then eats its way through the entire structure. While this can happen over time, the process can be sped up by certain conditions. Exposure to salt on the roads during the wintertime can help exacerbate the issue.
As well as external rust, the interior is also susceptible to iron oxide forming. The main cause of internal rust is typically condensation. But, don’t worry if you notice any water droplets falling from your exhaust pipe when it’s first started as this is very normal. These droplets form when the exhaust pipe becomes hot and then cools down. The result is a formation of condensation. But, this condensation and additional water don’t always drain out of the muffler entirely which can lead to internal rust.
One tell-tale sign of excessive rust is a stream of water rather than just small droplets. If this is the case, your muffler has probably rotted and you will need to acquire a new one.