Is driving with a loud muffler a safety risk?

Article by Christian A., on August 21, 2018

One of the vital parts of your exhaust system is the muffler. Located at the back or in the middle of the exhaust, the muffler is designed to lower the levels of noise generated by the exhaust process. In addition, the muffler helps safely direct the exhaust gases and fumes out of the car and into the surroundings. As part of the exhaust system, the muffler helps keep your car run at optimal condition while reducing pollution.

As aforementioned, the muffler help reduce the noise coming from your car. A muffler is called so because it muffles the explosions in the engine, as achieved by creating back pressure in the exhaust system. Mufflers create back pressure through a series of baffles while its chambers have small openings. While it is considered normal if some noise leaks out, it would be abnormal if the muffler becomes too loud. Thus, if a muffler has become noisier or louder than it should be, there could be some problems.

A loud muffler could be annoying to the ears. However, a loud muffler does more than annoying your hearing sense. Basically, a muffler that is much louder than usual may indicate that it – or a part -- is broken or malfunctioning. There could be a hole or any defect, as caused by rust and other elements. If that is the case, it is not only the noise that would reach you, but also fumes coming from the engine. Fumes may contain carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that could be lethal to humans. Instead of coming out from the exhaust tips, carbon monoxide may leak out of the muffler and enter the passenger cabin of your car.

You and your passengers won't able to detect the presence of carbon monoxide inside the cabin because of its odorless and colorless character. Without you knowing, you are already subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning. You would suffer from headache, dizziness, vomiting and chest pain. You might also pass or even die.

So, it isn't really safe to drive with a loud muffler. A loud muffler can be a safety risk. Nonetheless, there are performance cars whose mufflers are meant to be loud but still functions to route fumes away from the cabin. You shouldn’t envy them and instead focus on the sound of your own car. If the muffler is too loud than it is meant to be, you should have it checked just to be safe.

Likewise, there are cities that have ordinances against loud mufflers. If your muffler is too loud, then you might find yourself being apprehended by the authorities.

Here are some signs that your muffler might be broken or defective:

1. A clunking sound while the car is being driven

2. Rusts, holes or any signs of wear and defects

3. Unusually thick exhaust smoke

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