mechanic inspecting suspensionA rattling or hissing noise coming from your muffler never sounds good. For many drivers, it’s more than enough motivation to take your car into the shop for an assessment and subsequent repairs.

How Do the Muffler and Exhaust Work?

Understand that not all sounds indicate the same issue. In fact, what appears to be coming from your muffler tends to involve your whole exhaust system, which further includes the manifold, catalytic converter, resonator and the parts holding it all together, from the engine all the way to your car’s rear.

When your system is working, your engine’s gases go through the exhaust and tail pipes to the car’s back. In the process, the muffler and resonators minimize the amount of noise generated. At the same time, the pipes divert fumes away from the car’s cabin and the system as a whole ensures:

  • The engine runs properly
  • Gives you the greatest return on your gas
  • Reduces the amount of pollution emitted into the air

Along with these key factors, your exhaust system’s curved and angled pipes are held in place with a series of hangers and clamps, which position these pipes away from the chassis and driveline. In a perfect scenario, these parts prevent the pipes from rattling and also divert the exhaust away from the vehicle. Given the system’s extensiveness, that strange noise could be related to the following.

The Silencer

The part farthest away from the engine, the silencer is more likely to get corroded by acidic moisture than the rest of your car’s exhaust system. How does this happen? The part stays cold even when your car warms up and once it gets going, exhaust gases may condense and pool inside the system. The issue only surfaces once your exhaust system starts to make a loud, roaring noise when you’re driving.

Other Noises

Beyond the silencer, be alert to these sounds:

  • Hissing: More often than not, a hissing noise indicates a crack in the exhaust manifold or pipe, or a leaking gasket.
  • Chugging: Not so much a part issue, this sound indicates a blockage somewhere within your exhaust system.
  • Rattling: Did you recently travel over a pothole and now hear a rattling muffler or pipe? In this case, the bump may have misaligned your exhaust system.
  • Metallic vibrations: Also along the lines of misalignment, this sound usually occurs when something rubs against the exhaust pipe or clamp, or a bracket or mount has gotten loose.

Other Scenarios

At this point, if those sounds are accompanied by performance issues, you could be dealing with:

  • A stolen catalytic converter: Does your car make noise and seem to be off? Someone looking to trade parts for cash may have removed yours during the night and, without this key component, your car’s performance is immediately affected.
  • A failing catalytic converter: Even when your car has the part, its performance decreases with time. Once the catalytic converter needs to be replaced, your muffler sounds like it’s filled with rattling rocks, especially when you’re waiting in traffic.
  • Loose muffler: If your muffler gets loose or hangs low, it also places stress on your exhaust system’s other parts. If you drive around with the vehicle in this state, you risk breaking it off whenever you go over a bump or railroad tracks.
  • Loose brackets and hangers: You might only think of these as connectors, but if they get loose, fracture, corrode or fall off, their absence places more stress on your exhaust system’s functional parts and may lead to premature failure.
  • Exhaust leak: Are vibrations accompanied by a loss of power whenever you turn on your car? If you can feel those vibrations from the steering wheel, pedals or seat, these all indicate the exhaust system has a leak, through a hole or disconnected components. If this goes unchecked, your engine’s performance may no longer seem up to par.

As all these scenarios indicate, any noise coming from your exhaust system needs to be addressed right away. Not only will it negatively affect your car’s performance, but it’s also illegal to be on the road with a missing or damaged muffler. Rather than take a risk or damage your car, schedule a service appointment with DaSilva’s Auto Body today to have your vehicle assessed and repaired.