Many exhaust problems drivers face are diagnosed by hearing unfamiliar sounds or having a professional check under the hood. A common complaint for many is a rattling sound coming from the muffler. If you do hear rattling, many things could cause it. It can be helpful to learn what they are and what possible solutions are available before going to a trusted mechanic.
What Causes Your Muffler to Rattle
In most vehicles, the muffler is perfectly in line with your exhaust pipe. The goal of it is to minimize what noise comes from your car’s engine. The muffler contains baffled chambers or perforated tubes to create opposing sound waves. If the sound waves from your engine travel into the muffler, the opposing wave of noise can partially cancel out the original louder noise, but not all the way.
Many states make it illegal to drive on the road with a damaged or missing muffler. The law requires you to have this essential exhaust component to ensure that vehicles operate at appropriate noise levels.
Sounds can vary, so if you hear something loud, which sounds like metal pieces hitting each other, it might mean that something is in direct contact with the exhaust pipe. Sometimes, a loose rubber hanger, bracket or connector can cause your muffler to rattle because the exhaust pipe hits it against other components of the vehicle while you drive on bumpy roads or step on the gas. Sometimes, these components are corroded enough to where this issue happens. In extreme cases, it can occur while the vehicle is idling and stationary or when you initially start it. If the components holding your exhaust together end up failing, the entire system could become misaligned. If this occurs, the rattling noise is likely to be common and continuous. If your muffler is to blame for the sound, you’re more likely to hear the noise at the rear of your car.
Loose mufflers can also allow other components to move excessively, which can increase the stress of these parts. Therefore, the noise may become more pronounced or noisy if it isn’t fixed soon. Of course, a low-hanging muffler can also hit a bump or railroad tracks and be broken off completely. Therefore, it’s essential that you repair your muffler issue as soon as you can.
Signs That Your Muffler Is Damaged
If you hear a loud noise and suspect that it is a muffler issue, it’s best to take a quick look at the exhaust system. While loud rumbling and rattling noises are most common, you can also check for a variety of other issues. If you can, get under the car to inspect the pipes of the exhaust system. Do you see damages or rust? You should also focus on the heat shield and the muffler itself to check for damage signs that are visible. If it is safe to do so, drive the vehicle and see how it runs. If you notice that efficiency is diminished, there could be an exhaust leak in your pipes, or the muffler could be damaged.
Fixing a Damaged Muffler
Most modern exhaust systems use stainless or aluminized steel, but they aren’t designed to last forever. Debris, heat, moisture, and road salt can all cause the exhaust system to rust. If you notice any issues, it’s best to have it checked out as soon as you can. Diagnosing the problem is the first step so that you can determine what is wrong and what options are available to fix it. If the issue isn’t severe, you may be able to wait to save up money.