Muffler plays a vital role in a car as it helps reduce exhaust noises and filter exhaust fumes from the engine. But over time, it may get worn out due to several factors. When this happens, so many things will go wrong with the overall functionality of your car.
The best course of action will be to either repair or replace it. Muffler replacement cost/muffler repair cost may vary from brand to brand, with many other factors considered. It cost around $30 to $400 for repair, while between $75 to $750 to replace a muffler.
Muffler and how it works
The muffler is located in the rear of many vehicles. It has tubes inside bent downwards to shove away exhaust gases and noise created by the exhaust valves. How? As the engine works, it releases gases into the exhaust pipes.
This exhaust gas goes into the muffler, which filters the gas and sends it out through a tube. The tube generates a sound wave opposite the disturbance created by the engine. This process absorbs the sound before the noise is finally released through the main muffler.
But if your muffler is not in place, the noise and fumes come out raw, causing noise and air pollution. So how do you know the muffler is faulty and needs fixing?
Symptoms of a Faulty Muffler
One of the easiest ways to identify a faulty muffler is to look out for the sound your car makes. A broken muffler will usually make a loud noise than usual. The muffler consists of many chambers that help absorbs vibration created by the exhaust system.
Once it is compromised, it can result in an exhaust leak causing different noises in the exhaust pipe. Note that in most US states, it is illegal to drive with a bad muffler because of the air and noise pollution it causes.
Make a physical inspection
You can identify a bad muffler by checking its physical state. Holes and rust on the muffler may indicate that it is faulty. While a small amount of rust is normal, a reasonable amount of rust on the outside may indicate severe complications.
If the muffler drips and shows signs of rust, the issue might be worse. As the exhaust system cools down, condensation occurs, leaving steam in the exhaust system. Over time, the liquids cause rust in the exhaust, which in turn causes exhaust leaks.
Most manufacturers included a small drainage hole in the muffler to remove water from the muffler. But if the drip is extensive or comes from multiple holes, you may need to replace it. Holes may have formed due to rust.
A faulty muffler can result in blockages in the exhaust system leading to a high temperature or loss of power. To confirm the issue is from the muffler, switch on your car and leave it idle for few minutes. If you observe a temperature rise, you will need to check the muffler.
Reduced fuel economy
Exhaust leaks that stem from a damaged muffler affect oxygen sensors in your car. The oxygen sensors are part of the fuel injection system that helps manage how a car consumes fuel. When these sensors are bad, they can’t determine the amount of exhaust in the exhaust system. Thus giving false readings, which invariably decreases fuel economy.
Smell of fumes
One function of the muffler is to divert exhaust gases out of your vehicle. If it is faulty, these gases are sent back into the car. These gases smell bad and can cause headaches, dizziness, or other health issues. When this happens, the right thing will be to take your car to a mechanic for proper diagnosis.
If, as your drive, you start experiencing constant vibrations, it can point to a faulty muffler. The best option will be to take the car to a mechanic and explain how the vibration sounds and where it comes from.
While the muffler might be a culprit, the vibration could also result from poor engine performance or faulty steering. Only a proper diagnosis can state the cause of vibration.
Muffler Replacement Cost
The average cost of muffler replacement could be between $75 to $750, depending on different factors. This may include, what needs to be replaced, the car model, and the labor involved. A new muffler costs between $25 to $500.
The price of aftermarket mufflers is usually between $25 to $50. But installing them may be challenging. Because you will need to buy additional parts to install them to function well. They are made from low-quality materials, so they don’t last long.
The price range of installing a mid-range muffler is between $150 to $250, with labor and parts included. A medium-quality muffler costs between $50 to $125. While high-quality mufflers like those for luxury vehicles range between $300 to $500.
If the vehicle has been driven in harsh conditions such as rain, ice, or salty roads, the muffler could be clogged. When this happens, many other systems like the hanger, silencer, and gaskets could be damaged. And thus, need to be replaced along with the faulty muffler. This could add an extra $20 or more to the muffler installation cost.
A completely bad resonator pipe will amount to an additional $100 to $150 to repair cost. While a faulty exhaust tip will add an extra $25 to $50.
Muffler repair cost
Muffler repair cost for a damaged but functional muffler would range between $30 to $400. This may include mending a broken clamp or welding a loose muffler. This amount depends on the things to repair, duration and labor. A loosed muffler repair cost may stem from $40 to $60 depending on needed accessories.
Holes in muffler repair cost between $30 to $50, depending on the number of holes. However, this type of repair can’t hold the muffler for long before it starts leaking again. So, in the long run, you will still need to replace the muffler.
Exhaust system replacement cost
Since the muffler is part of the exhaust system, it could also affect other exhaust components such as catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, etc.
However, exhaust system replacement cost ranges from $150 to $2250 for components. While $75 to $200 as labor cost. But this amount may vary from car to car as it has to do with the model, year, and the type of exhaust system.
But if you need to replace just some components, the price will differ. For example, a catalytic converter replacement costs $945 to $2250. The cat itself is expensive and costs up to $2000. If your car is really old, you might want to ignore this. As it is almost worth the price of a new car.
Factors that influence muffler repair and replacement cost
- Year your car was produced and the brand
- The person who repaired. Repairs done personally will usually save cost than the ones done by a dealer or privately owned shops
- The quality of muffler bought. It may be an OEM or a cheap muffler
- Labor rates in your areas
Check out for excessive drips, rust, and multiple holes. Another thing to look at is loud engine noise and reduced fuel efficiency. Also, watch out for the lifespan of your muffler and the manufacturer’s recommendation. You will find this information on your car’s owner’s manual.
A muffler can last between 5 to 7 years or throughout the car’s life. But this will depend on several factors. Like how often you drive and the type of terrain you drive. If you drive your vehicle in harsh conditions, your muffler, including some exhaust components, will likely damage on time.
You can drive with a damaged muffler. However, so many things would go wrong with your car. Aside from the excessive noises and bad smell, a bad muffler over time can damage other exhaust components. Which will mean spending more cash.
Additionally, it is illegal to drive with a bad muffler in most states in the US. If caught, your might have to pay a fine or have your car impounded. Without a muffler, your vehicle will emit so much noise and harmful fumes that pollute and disturb the environment.
Whether to replace or repair a muffler depends on the severity of the damage. Sometimes, it could be a broken clamp or lose muffler. This will mean carrying out minor muffler repairs.
For exhaust leaks resulting from rust, you should replace the entire muffler. The reason is, patching holes won’t carry the muffler for long before it starts leaking again. If many other muffler components are bad, replace the muffler with a new one.
The quality of the muffler and who carries out the repair matters. An OEM muffler will cost more than an aftermarket muffler. And if you carry out the repair or installation yourself, you could be saving up to $100.
Some car manufacturers also give a LIFETIME warranty on mufflers. If you have this, you might not have to spend money on repairs and replacement. However, don’t try to save cost and end up causing more damage to your car. If you must do it, ensure your know your way around, else take your vehicle to your local muffler shop.
Muffler replacement cost/muffler repair cost will depend on what needs to be fixed, time, and labor cost. Installing a new muffler will usually take a shorter time compared to repairs. Another thing that influences cost will be the number of other affected components.
More faulty components will mean more money. So you should look at bad muffler symptoms and fix it before it affects other surrounding components. Lastly, check your muffler’s lifespan and change when due. You will find this information in your car owner’s manual.