A muffler is a component of the exhaust, which reduces the amount of noise and emissions emitted, through the exhaust system, by the engine. It is a distinctive component of a vehicles underbody because it is rather large and rectangular in shape. The muffler began seeing wide spread use on cars as the engines started getting bigger because as an engine gets larger, its noise output is increased. Larger engines produce more noise because the pressure waves generated by the rapid opening and closing of the engines valves will get bigger and more consistent.
The muffler reduces the sound by trapping the pressure waves and making them bounce around until they are finally expelled through the tailpipe. As the waves bounce around in the muffler, they get smaller and less concentrated which is what reduces the sound emitted. The inside of the muffler has specially designed chambers and cylinders in it which cancel out the pressure waves as much as possible. The only problem with this setup is that the exhaust being slowed down in the muffler can cause backpressure which will affect the engines performance.
To get the benefits of a muffler without the loss in performance, a performance muffler can be used. This style muffler is a strait pipe with perforations which allows for some noise canceling while creating very little backpressure. This metal tube is wrapped in glass insulation, protected by a steel shell, and referred to as a glass pack. This style muffler was very popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s muscle cars that were souped up for top performance. The performance muffler has a characteristic explosive sound that earned it the street name “cherry bomb”.
Since a muffler is located under the vehicle, it is often neglected which is why you will often see rust on it or broken support straps which hold it to the underbody. To prevent rust, exhaust sprays can be used on the metal which will not only protect it, but the muffler will also look much more appealing to the eye. If a muffler becomes damaged or is to rusted to fix, it can be easily replaced by a local body shop or at home by someone with a little knowledge on a vehicles exhaust.
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