How to Choose the Right Muffler (2024)

What Does a Muffler Do?

Designed to quiet the sound of the engine as emissions pass through and out of the exhaust system, the muffler is a key part of a gas-powered vehicle’s exhaust system. Located at the back of your vehicle, the muffler is attached to the tailpipe that carries the dangerous gases and sound out of the vehicle.

Keeping your exhaust system in proper working order is key to ensuring that your vehicle is quiet and keeping harmful gases from entering the cabin. When you have to replace your muffler, you have an important decision to make. Check out this muffler buying guide from Walker® to help you make the right choice.

How Does a Muffler Work?

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The muffler has a surprisingly simple design to filter out the engine’s loud noises. Featuring a set of tubes with tiny holes, these tubes inside of the muffler reflect sound waves. As the sound waves bounce around, they cancel each other out to reduce the engine noise before they’re routed out of the vehicle through the exhaust tailpipe.

Direct Fit vs Universal Mufflers

Mufflers are available in direct fit and universal designs.

Direct Fit

Direct fit mufflers are designed to bolt on your vehicle with no specialized fabrication and/or welding during the installation process. Using the specs and space constraints for the vehicle its designed for, a direct fit muffler is engineered for OE-style fit and performance. This direct-fit, bolt-on replacement solution features OE-style hangers, brackets and pipe routings for easy installation.

Direct fit mufflers are perfect for vehicles that have the original factory exhaust system. In addition, they’re ideal for technicians who want to get the job done in a time-efficient manner and for experienced DIYers who want to complete the repair job without special tools or skills.

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Designed to be used on a variety of vehicles, universal fit mufflers typically require some modifications including welding and/or fabrication. You might need to cut pipe or fabricate new hangers if they don’t match up with the existing hangers. Consider the design when choosing a universal muffler.

Universal mufflers are ideal for vehicles that currently have a universal muffler and for performance and vintage applications where the ability to customize the exhaust system is needed.

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What Are Mufflers Made Of?

While mufflers can be made in a variety of metals, the two most common are aluminized and stainless steel.


Aluminized mufflers feature low-carbon steel that is coated with an aluminum-silicon alloy to make it more corrosion resistant. Typically less expensive than stainless steel, an aluminized steel muffler can be a good option if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t get much snow and ice. While an aluminized muffler can survive in snowy climates, road salt can cause it to rust out in just a few years of normal use.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel mufflers deliver enhanced corrosion protection while providing years of worry-free operation. A stainless-steel muffler might be worth the investment if you live in a snowy climate where salt is used on the roads. The superior corrosion resistance can help increase the muffler’s durability and lifespan.

Signs of a Failing Muffler

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Mufflers primarily deteriorate from the inside out due to the acidic moisture produced by the combustion process. Detrimental to the performance of your vehicle, signs of a failing muffler include:

Exhaust Noise

Loud noises coming from the back of the vehicle is the telltale sign of a failing muffler. A properly operating muffler isn’t noticeable; it works in the background. If you begin to hear unusual sounds, it’s time to make an appointment with your technician.

Reduced Gas Mileage

If you’re making more trips to the gas station, it could be a sign that your exhaust system isn’t operating properly. A failing muffler causes your engine to work harder, which results in it using more fuel.

Scent of Strong Fumes

Your muffler works to pass dangerous fumes away from the vehicle. If your muffler has a hole or leak, those noxious gases could seep into the cabin of the vehicle. If you smell anything out of the ordinary, consult your technician as soon as possible.

If you notice any of these signs of a failing muffler, it might be time to replace your muffler. Have your vehicle inspected by your auto technician who will make a diagnosis on what repairs are needed.

Finding the Right Muffler

Once you’ve determined that you need a new muffler, you can count on Walker for a quality muffler that delivers OE-style fit, sound and performance for every application.

Quiet-Flow® SS

Walker Quiet-Flow SS mufflers feature 100% stainless-steel construction for a longer lifespan. In addition to Walker's renowned precision fit, superior flow and OE-style sound, Quiet-Flow SS is the only broad-market stainless-steel muffler to feature 100% stainless-steel heads, shell, bushings, louvered tubes and partitions. It is a direct-fit bolt-on replacement solution with OE-style hangers, brackets and pipe routings for easy installation. It is also available in muffler assemblies.

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SoundFX® Direct Fit

WalkerSoundFX®direct-fitmufflers are engineered with 100% aluminized steel for longer service life compared to low-carbon steel.Featuringmechanical interior jointsand spun-locked headsfor durability andstability,SoundFX®mufflers deliverquality appearance and favorable acoustics.

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SoundFX® Universal

Featuring 100% aluminized steel for longer service life compared to low-carbon steel, Walker SoundFX® universal mufflers deliver quality appearance and favorable acoustics while mechanical interior joints and spun-locked heads provide durability.

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Which Walker Muffler is Right for Me?

Quiet-Flow SS Direct FitSoundFX Direct FitSoundFX Universal
Easy to installXX
OE-style PerformanceXX
Stainless steel materialX
Aluminized materialXX
Economical solutionX
Ability to customize (fabrication/welding may be required)X
Vehicle driven in snowy climate where salt is usedX
Vehicle driven in warmer, temperate climateXXX

Learn more about QUALITY MUFFLERS, find yourcar part, or find where to buy your AUTO PART.

The content in this article is for informational purposes only. You should consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have questions relating to any of the topics covered herein. Tenneco will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

How to Choose the Right Muffler (2024)


How to choose the correct muffler? ›

For mufflers of equal volume, the smaller the flow tubes the quieter the resultant noise. A general rule of thumb in the case of tri-flow design mufflers is, if the length of the muffler, the cross-section of the muffler and the nipple tube sizes are correct, then the muffler will suit the application.

How do I know what muffler will fit my car? ›

General Advice. Look for inlet diameter, outlet diameter, dimensions of muffler, and position of inlet and outlet ports. Inlet diameter is the size of the pipe nub on the muffler. The existing pipe under the car should already be expanded to fit over this nub.

How do I know what size muffler I need? ›

The quick and easy way to choose what diameter pipe you will need from the headers to the mufflers is to go back to the old rule of thumb, that for every 100 horsepower = 1” of total pipe diameter is needed across the system. For example, a 500 horsepower engine needs a 2.5″ dual exhaust (2.5″ x 2 = 5″).

What kind of muffler should I get for my car? ›

Typically less expensive than stainless steel, an aluminized steel muffler can be a good option if you live in a warm climate that doesn't get much snow and ice. While an aluminized muffler can survive in snowy climates, road salt can cause it to rust out in just a few years of normal use.

What muffler makes a deeper sound? ›

A free-flowing performance muffler which incorporates hair or fiber-like material for absorbing sound from companies like Borla or Magnaflow will provide a deeper tone than the stock muffler or a muffler that uses chambers or baffles.

Does it matter what muffler you use? ›

While standard mufflers do the job well enough, custom mufflers may be better suited to provide the performance you want from your vehicle. Before you decide to install a new muffler, you need to take into consideration 3 important things: fit, type and construction.

What to know when buying a muffler? ›

It is important to check whether the muffler you are purchasing complies with the noise emission levels allowed by the state law. If your muffler is too loud, you might get a ticket.

Can I replace just my muffler? ›

You can take your car to a muffler shop for a replacement, but installing a new muffler yourself is fairly easily and cost-efficient. To complete your muffler installation, you'll need a jack to lift up your car, a wrench, different sized ratchets, lubricant, and possibly a hacksaw.

Will a bigger muffler be quieter? ›

As the volume, cross-section or length of the muffler is reduced the loudness of the muffler will be greater and as the volume, cross-section or length of the muffler is increased the loudness of the muffler will be lessened. Another consideration for sound is the inlet / outlet configuration.

Is it better to have a bigger muffler? ›

When it comes to choosing the right size of exhaust for performance, it's important to consider your power goals and engine size. Generally, the larger the exhaust pipe, the better the performance gains.

Does the size of a muffler matter? ›

Shape & Size Affects Muffler Performance

A muffler's “cross section,” or engineered shape and size, helps determine its sound characteristics, ease of installation, and exhaust system backpressure.

What happens if your exhaust is too big? ›

However, it's also important to note that pipes that are too big can actually have the opposite effect — they won't be able to create enough backpressure and will cause your engine to over-scavenge for oxygen, resulting in lower fuel efficiency and poorer performance.

What are the three types of mufflers? ›

Different Types of Mufflers
  • Chambered. A chambered muffler is a rectangular structure with a zig-zag pattern on the inside. ...
  • Glasspack. The glasspack muffler has a more tubular shape. ...
  • Flow Through. A flow-through muffler is a combination of a glasspack and chambered muffler.

What is a good loud muffler? ›

The Flowmaster® 10 Series™ and Super 10™ Series (and the many off-brand knock-offs based on them) are well known loud mufflers.

How do I choose the right exhaust pipe? ›

A good rule is to choose an exhaust pipe with a diameter proportional to your engine's horsepower. However, ensure that the piping diameter is relatively wider than the stock. If your car's engine has 400 horsepower, choose an aftermarket exhaust with a piping diameter of about 4'.

Which is better, free flow or chambered muffler? ›

However, we at Legato Performance believe that the chambered muffler design is the best possible choice for those looking for an emissions legal exhaust solution that delivers high performance and amazing sound.

Which muffler is louder super 40 or 44? ›

The Super 44's would be a good bit deeper and not as loud. I've heard those 40 series on a local cam'ed Goat and it was probably one of the loudest ones out here.

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