The muffler is another critical part of a car that you need to always pay attention to. Just like other car components, when the muffler is bad, it will definitely have some effects on your car in different ways, which we will discuss later below.
But how do you know the muffler is bad? What are bad muffler symptoms?
Typically, a bad muffler can trigger a lot of signs in a car, which include thick/dirty exhaust fumes, loud noise from the exhaust, high fuel consumption, etc.
In this article, we will look at the some of the common clogged muffler symptoms and how to unclog a muffler.
But first, do you know what a muffler is?
What is a Muffler and How Does it Work?
A muffler is a critical part of a car’s emission system, commonly called the exhaust system. It sits at the rear bottom of a car, usually somewhere after the catalytic converter and before the exhaust manifold. The main function of a muffler is to “cancel” sound waves coming from the engine.
It is the muffler that makes your car drive with less or no noise. As a crucial part of the exhaust system, driving with a bad muffler, or removing the muffler from your vehicle is a punishable offence in some cities and regions. Asides from that, driving with a bad muffler can, over time, affect your engine badly.
With the understanding that a muffler is an important part of your car’s exhaust system, you really should be aware of the possible signs and symptoms a bad muffler could trigger.
Read Also: Do I Need A Resonator On My Exhaust?
What Are Bad Muffler Symptoms?
These signs and symptoms are most likely to show up when you’ve got a clogged, failing, or bad muffler.
1. Louder Exhaust Noise
This is the most common sign that you’ve got a bad muffler. Remember, the main function of mufflers is to silence exhaust noise – reducing it to the barest minimum so you may not even hear a noise as you drive. So, when you start hearing a loud noise coming from the exhaust, it’s a sign of a bad muffler.
But notwithstanding, a bad catalytic converter can also cause loud exhaust noise, and as such, you need to first troubleshoot your car’s exhaust to ascertain the main cause of the noise. Mostly, you’d discover it’s the muffler that is causing the noise.
2. Rattling Noise as you Drive
If the muffler is physically damaged, it may fall out of its position; thus, as you drive, it would constantly hit on the trails, causing you to hear a rattling noise coming from the rear side of your vehicle.
Mufflers are attached to the exhaust pipe, so they have chances of falling out due to a multitude of reasons.
Read Also: Muffler Vs Resonator
3. Darker Exhaust Fumes
Another sign that your muffler is in bad shape is when you start seeing dark, dirty exhaust fumes. Actually, if your exhaust system is in good shape, and all the components are functioning as supposed, what would be coming out of the tailpipe is steamy, almost-invincible gases.
The moment you start seeing thick and dirty fumes, that’s a sign that one of the exhaust components is faulty, and in most cases, it’s usually the muffler. Changing the muffler isn’t very expensive, compared with changing the catalyst converter.
4. High Fuel Usage But Low Engine Performance
Yes, a bad muffler, if not fixed as soon as possible, would lead to high fuel usage. How can that happen? The exhaust system is designed to remove combusted gases from the engine; when it is unable to remove these gases, they get back into the engine and form buildups.
With excessive buildups in the engine, your car would tend to use more fuel, yet, the performance won’t improve. So, when you start noticing a drop in your engine’s performance, along with reduced fuel economy, one of the components to check out is the muffler.
Read Also: Can a Car Run Without a Catalytic Converter?
5. Engine Misfiring
Over time, if a bad muffler is not fixed, it can lead to engine misfiring. This occurs when too many combusted gases, which are supposed to be removed from the engine are forced back into the engine due to a bad exhaust component.
So, when your engine constantly misfires, one of the things to check is the muffler.
Can You Drive With A Clogged Muffler?
Definitely, you can; it is possible to drive with a clogged muffler; even if you remove the muffler in your exhaust, you can still drive the car. The truth is that a bad muffler doesn’t stop the engine from performing, and anything that doesn’t stop the engine from running, can’t stop you from driving the car.
A bad/clogged muffler will affect your engine’s performance, which can also mean a decrease in fuel efficiency. But then, in some cities and states, the road usage regulations place a fine on drivers that remove mufflers from their exhaust.
Furthermore, a clogged muffler would make the environment unhealthy as bad, harmful smokes would be released into the air whenever you start the car. Your neighbors would be angry with you too because your car makes a hell of noise all the time.
That is to say, driving with a malfunctioning muffler is possible, but not advisable because you’d be releasing harmful carbon gases into the atmosphere. You could attract a heavy fine for such driving, too.
How To Unclog A Muffler
You can do that by cleaning the entire exhaust system – cleaning the exhaust pipe. The muffler is attached to the exhaust pipe; so, by cleaning the pipe, you also clean the muffler.
However, this can be a technical task, so you may need to engage a mechanic.
Conclusion | Clogged Muffler Symptoms
There could be other symptoms of a bad muffler, which can include engine overheating, rotten egg smell coming from the rear side of your car, and others.
However, it is advisable that whenever you start seeing unusual signs while driving, you should stop and thoroughly check your car. If you have an OBDII scanner, troubleshoot the vehicle.