Sounds Like Trouble: How to Tell When to Replace Your Muffler

red car driving by cornfield

You enjoy listening to tunes in the car but lately it’s becoming harder to hear the music. Is it your imagination or the muffler? You figure you’ll wait and see.

This may not be the best move because mufflers are all about safety.

A muffler’s job

While we rarely think about mufflers until there is a possible issue, they actually perform several vital functions. They reduce sounds, by absorbing sound waves, directing them through different passages. In addition, they channel away harmful carbon dioxide and other exhaust fumes that result from the burning of gasoline.

Breathing in carbon monoxide in particular has the potential to be deadly. Passengers have no way to know this is happening since it is colorless and odorless. The carbon monoxide actually interferes with the body’s ability to transport oxygen, which can result in a variety of symptoms after lengthy exposure, including headaches, nausea, and loss of consciousness, which can ultimately be fatal.

But the muffler does even more. It is integral in helping to ensure the power needed to compress the pistons is sufficient to rotate the wheels. This controls the speed the exhaust fumes move out of the system. When the compression function is not working properly, the vehicle can begin to get poor gas mileage or stall out.

Signs of a problem

One of the signs the muffler is no longer working properly can be a decrease in gas mileage. If you find yourself suddenly paying more for each fill or filling your tank more often, one possibility is your muffler.

The most common tipoff is noise. If your vehicle is usually quiet and you now hear it rumble, don’t turn up the radio but check the muffler. If you have a muffler with a hole in it, you may hear a rumbling noise like this. If you let it go long enough, you may even get ticketed for violating noise ordinances.

A rattling car muffler sound is another warning sound, a tipoff that your exhaust system is coming loose and is no longer correctly aligned. Even worse, the muffler can sometimes drop down and drag along the ground. In either case, the time has come to have this worked on by a professional.

Also, you may begin to notice the smell of some exhaust fumes coming your way. If gases are escaping through holes in the muffler and coming back into the car, the problem is extremely serious and should be immediately fixed.

So, if you think your muffler may be the source of the mounting noise issue, take the issue seriously and get it promptly checked out. You also want to make sure you are covered in the event of a muffler problem. Find out how Nationwide Car Insurance can keep you and your car safe.