Driving along, your exhaust system's rumbling so loud that people turn and stare at you pass by. You're wondering when the police are going to pull you over for illegal noise.
Your mind immediately thinks, aha! A broken muffler.
Well, your exhaust system is composed of many more parts than just a muffler.
Your engine makes power because of thousands of tiny explosions from detonating fuel. Those explosions make a racket, so engineers came up with a system that acoustically dampens that sound in addition to getting rid of harmful exhaust.
In the engine is the exhaust manifold that looks like several pipes that join up into one pipe. It directs exhaust to the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter converts harmful gases into less harmful gases using certain chemical reactions. Then comes the muffler that has baffles inside to quiet the sounds of your engine noise. Finally: the tailpipe.
All of those pipes and parts are joined together by clamps and held up by brackets, and they ride over some pretty bumpy roads. They are also exposed to the elements, like salt, water, rocks and grit. Chances are that one of those clamps or brackets has been weakened by corrosion. When you hit a bump, bingo! The crack widens into a gap and there's a spot for the engine noise to come roaring out instead of being directed into the muffler's quieting chambers.
You might be surprised to know that the exhaust system can rust from inside out. How? Moisture is one component of exhaust, and moisture on the inside can do the same kind of damage as moisture from the outside.
It's a good idea to have your exhaust system looked at regularly by a technician. He or she can evaluate the condition of the metal and recommend when it might be time to replace parts before they break.
Then you'll have a decision to make. Newer exhaust systems are made out of stainless steel that is much less prone to corrosion issues. Others are made of aluminized steel that also fights rust. You've probably already guessed that they can cost more, but the extra price up front may give you an exhaust system that will last much longer.
Sure, with a repaired exhaust system, you won't have quite the head-turning vehicle you once had. You'll just have to live with all the quiet.
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