Your car's engine produces quite a few byproducts from the combustion process. In addition to creating heat and energy, it also makes waste in the form of noise and exhaust gases. Your manufacturer designs your car's exhaust system to control these issues. While carmakers aim to minimize exhaust gases as much as possible, exhaust sounds are far more subjective.
However, even high-performance sports cars still use mufflers and resonators to reduce and control sound output. When these components fail, it can impact your vehicle's performance and create a noise profile that may be both annoying and even illegal in some areas. If you don't know much about your car's exhaust system, check out these three indications that your muffler may require service.
1. Change in Sound
Most vehicles use two exhaust system components to control noise: a muffler and a resonator. Depending on the configuration of your car, you may have more than one of each. While similar, each of these components has a unique function. The muffler acts as a general-purpose sound reducer, while the resonator targets individual frequencies.
However, a change in tone for your exhaust can indicate a problem with either part. While your muffler acts as a general sound deadener, a hole or leak in part of the muffler can produce unusual sounds that may only be audible at certain RPMs or under certain conditions. If you can hear any change in your exhaust note, it's a good idea to have a muffler service center like Muffler Man check it out.
2. Ratting From Under Your Car
Most vehicles use metal hangers and brackets to keep the exhaust system in place. Your mufflers are likely attached to your car using these relatively simple components. Unfortunately, metal hangers can rust over time, especially when exposed to constant moisture, road salt, and other contaminants. A rusty hanger may still hold your exhaust in place but loosely enough to produce some rattling.
Most vehicles protect large portions of their underbody with splash guards, but mufflers are usually far enough back on the car to lack these defenses. As a result, it's common for muffler hangers to fail and allow the muffler to hang free or rattle. If you can hear a rattling noise from the rear of your car, it's time to have a look at your muffler.
3. Check Engine Light
Your car's computer doesn't know much about the status of your exhaust system, but a problem with your muffler can allow excess oxygen to reach your post-catalytic converter O2 sensor. If you have a check engine light for this reason, the problem may be a leak in your muffler or elsewhere in your exhaust system.
Never ignore these lights since your car's computer will attempt to adjust for the problem, potentially reducing engine efficiency or even damaging expensive components such as your catalytic converters. Addressing the underlying issue will always be a cheaper option in the long run.