What does a muffler do? How does it differ from a car exhaust?

Updated Feb 23, 2021 | Same topic: Tuning & Mods

Both are installed to reduce noise pollution.

1. What is a muffler?

The engine makes a lot of noise due to intense pressure and temperature applications to move the car from point A to B. The sound that is produced from the engine needs to be suppressed to reduce noise pollution. 

As such, the muffler was invented way back in the 1800s. The first muffler was introduced by Milton Reeves so that the loud vehicles will not disturb towns and scare animals. All cars in today’s time come with mufflers as standard, with some manufacturers offering an upgrade option to offer a different muffled engine sound.

A removed muffler

A muffler is essential in reducing noise pollution especially in the city

Most standard mufflers you will encounter today are made up of ferrous alloys. Some performance vehicles are installed with titanium alloys to give them a little upgrade over standard mufflers, while some don’t install mufflers and use straight pipes instead.

The term straight pipe is probably something you have heard of before. A car with a straight pipe doesn’t utilize a muffler resulting in loud and disturbing noises.

However, keep in mind that most areas in the world require vehicles to be equipped with a muffler or any noise dissipate device to be road legal.

2. What does a muffler do for your car & how it works

Noise Control

The number one function of a muffler is to suppress the sound waves coming from an engine, hence the name muffler. Inside a muffler, there is a series of chambers which the sound waves bounce against. As the sound waves go through each chamber, the intensity weakens resulting in less engine noise.

How a Muffler Works

Without a muffler, any car would sound incredibly loud. As said earlier, this is not legal in most parts of the world. Here in the Philippines, we have the Muffler Act of 2016 which aims to reduce car noises below 70 decibels for all types of vehicles. If you own a performance vehicle, you could be exempted from the law to some extent.

There are different mufflers available in the aftermarket. All are designed to suppress the sound coming from an engine. But some aftermarket mufflers offer different sounds as compared to the stock sound.

If you are in the market for a new muffler, be sure that it doesn’t emit a loud sound to be able to pass the new motor vehicle inspection requirements. 

White car rear view

Some cars come with two mufflers

Performance Enhancement

Aside from minimizing the sound waves from an engine, a muffler also improves the overall performance of a car. The simple operation of an engine includes the intake and exhaust of airflow. The more your muffler can get rid of exhaust gases faster, the more it can take more air in.

However, do not expect large numbers. Installing a performance muffler will increase your car’s power by around six horsepower only. That may not sound a lot, but it is enough when you stack all the added horsepower from other aftermarket parts you installed in your car.

>>> Related: 7 essential components to tune up your car engine for maximum horsepower & torque

3. Difference between muffler and exhaust

For some people, the term muffler and exhaust are practically the same thing. Both are installed underneath the chassis of the car which functions as a pathway for the exiting exhaust gases. However, the two components are quite different from each other.

A muffler is just part of the entirety of the exhaust system. In an exhaust system, there are various components to efficiently get rid of the exhaust gases from the cylinder of an engine. These components include the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter (CAT), and muffler.

Car components from below

The exhaust pipes are carefully bent to fill the spaces underneath a car

The exhaust manifold is the first stage where the exhaust gases are discharged. It is comprised of various chambers that are attached to the different cylinder exhaust ports. All of the chambers are connected to a single exit point which will then be transferred to the catalytic converter.

The catalytic converter is another standard feature among production cars mainly for its eco-friendly benefits. This part of the exhaust system that cleans the exhaust gases by converting highly poisonous gases such as hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) to a less harmful carbon dioxide (CO2).

Disassembled exhaust system

The CAT and muffler are the two of the most notable advancements in the auto industry

The last part of the exhaust system is the muffler. There are, however, car owners that install a resonator just to alter the sound of the exhaust located before the muffler. Overall, the principal function of the exhaust system is to make production cars more economical and more environmentally-friendly.

>>> Related: Modifying your car's exhaust systems: Which type to choose?

4. How much is a muffler in the Philippines?

Since a muffler comes with advantages such as increasing performance numbers and reducing noise pollutions, it would be great to upgrade the component. You could also be in the market for a muffler since it now needs to be replaced.

However, it is not recommended to do so as the stock muffler can do the job seamlessly.

An EV car loading power

Soon, we might have to say goodbye to exhaust systems

But if you plan to replace your stock mufflers, you can expect to get one for around Php 2,000 for the low-end options in the aftermarket. You can get high-end mufflers with a better build quality for around Php 10,000 or more. The labor is not included so expect to pay a bit more than the said estimates.

5. Muffler and Exhaust: FAQs

Q: What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter converts the poisonous gases from the engine to a less harmful one by reduction and oxidation.

Q: How much is a muffler in the Philippines?

You could get a muffler in the Philippines for around Php 2,000 only. The price could go up depending on the quality of the muffler.

Q: Do I need a muffler?

Your car can run smoothly without a muffler. However, you are required to install a muffler if you decide to drive on Philippine roads.

Q: What is included in the exhaust system?

There are three main components of an exhaust system, namely the exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, and muffler.

Q: How long do mufflers last?

Mufflers will last for around five to eight years, depending on how you drive your car daily.

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Rex Sanchez

Rex Sanchez


Rex Sanchez grew up in Saudi Arabia where he saw and got into the automotive scene. He started his career for an aviation company in the said region, writing about turbines and rotors which are later distributed for educational purposes. And now, he joined Philkotse.com as a staff writer. Currently, he is the youngest on the team and is more than ready to grow in the field.

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