How To Quiet Exhaust Without Losing Performance & Maintain Its Good Condition On The Road

motorcycle muffler

Last Updated: July 2, 2021

Pain is when you endure embarrassment each time you drive down a quiet road because your car's exhaust keeps hissing and blurting.

And…

Heck, you could be breaking the law in some US states if you have a noisy car exhaust. Luckily, there are proven solutions to get a quiet exhaust and drive freely around town again.

Read on to learn how to make an exhaust quiet.

But first, how about a basic understanding of the exhaust system… 

What Is An Exhaust System?

Your car's exhaust system does a relatively simple job but in a complicated way.

The exhaust system is an intersected assemblage of connectors, pipes, sensors, and mechanical devices.

They all collaborate to dispose of the exhaust fumes generated by the car engine. It's like the relationship between the stomach and anus.

The basic functions of the car exhaust are: 

  • Directing fumes from passengers 
  • Silencing the combustion process inside the engine.
  • Neutralizes toxic emissions released from the car into the environment 
  • Economize fuel consumption
  • Improves engine performance (prevents overheating)

What Could Cause A Loud Car Exhaust?

exhaust of a white car

Three things. Your car could be sounding off because your exhaust is either too powerful, too old, or leaking through holes.

  • If you are a fan of sports cars, you know the engine is anything but quiet. So is the exhaust because they are powerful vehicles.
  • Exhaust noise from older cars – especially those over two decades old – is often a result of wear or rust. Duh! 
  • The last and most common reason for a loud exhaust is leakages, as evidenced by holes in the exhaust system

Different Exhaust Noises: What They Could Mean

Understanding the sounds emitted by your car, you can effectively and economically quiet its exhaust by acting proactively.  

  • A loud roar means your silencer is broken
  • Hissing indicates a hole or a crack on the exhaust 
  • If your exhaust sounds like it is struggling to get fumes out, you will likely hear a chugging sound. It means the exhaust pipe is blocked.
  • A loud metallic clanging potentially means some fittings have come loose in the exhaust system 

How To Make The Exhaust Quieter

1. Fix the Holes

The first thing to do here is to check the exhaust system for any holes.

Patch small holes using products like Permatex Epoxy Stick or a heat wrap tape.

Relax, you'll have simple instructions to follow on the back of these products. When you apply a patch, it is soft. But don't be fooled. Give it a few hours, and it becomes solid as metal.

However, if the holes are numerous or large, it's time to see your auto mechanic.

But if you want a DIY solution, try something like Dynomax Muffler Cement. Dynomax comes in a 16-ounce tube – making it sufficient to cover huge holes.

Tip: Gently scrub off rust around the holes before you get to work. 

2. Get A Quiet Muffler

One of the critical components of the exhaust system is the muffler. This is the part that envelopes the tailpipe before the exhaust opening.

The function of the muffler is, you guessed it, to muffle noise coming from the exhaust. And if it is slacking at that, you'll need to get a replacement ASAP.

When purchasing a muffler, try to find an exact design for your car.

If you'll install it yourself, apply lubricant generously to the old muffler before you get the bolts and clamps off.

Tip: Penetrant sprays break off rusted mufflers that prove stubborn to remove. 

3. Stuff the Muffler

Mufflers are typically packed with soundproofing materials that deaden the exhaust system's noise as it travels through it.

However, you can enhance its capabilities by stuffing it with steel scrubs, metal wool, or fiberglass packing for motorcycle exhausts.

Tip: Stick with heat-resistant materials.

This video shows you how to make a muffler quieter in 5 minutes.

4. Get A New Silencer

Another product that can help you is a muffler silencer. Silencers are cheap. And they basically narrow the hole through which the sound must pass through, thereby making it a bit quieter.

They also have a straightforward installation process.

You only have to attach the silencer to the exhaust pipe.

5. Use Exhaust Wraps

Exhaust wraps are designed to protect you from the heat escaping from an exhaust pipe. They are more commonly used on motorbike exhausts where there is a danger that your leg may come into contact with the hot exhaust.

Wrapped exhaust headers can quiet exhaust noise to an impressive extent.

The denser the wrap you use, the quieter the exhaust.

If you are learning how to make a muffler quieter, use a high-quality wrap. A quality wrap would have a temperature tolerance of up to 1400°C – similar to the heat tolerance of a titanium wrap. The thick titanium fibers of exhaust wraps make them perfect for soundproofing.

To use an exhaust wrap:

  • Soak it in water, then wrap it gently around your exhaust pipe.
  • Tighten 
  • Fasten every 10cm of the wrap with a hose clamp

Tip: Exhaust wraps are best used as a finishing touch rather than a foolproof soundproofing strategy.

What Causes Exhaust To Lose Performance?

These causal factors help you understand how to quiet the exhaust without losing performance. Stay with me now. 

1. Rusty Steel

Your vehicle's exhaust system lives a tough life by all standards. It's exposed to all of the elements, from road dust and debris to rain, snow, and ice.

Also, as the car runs, the exhaust heats up, and condensation builds up when it cools down, causing rust in the tailpipe and muffler. While the exhaust system might be built to take this beating, eventually, it rusts and becomes a tad noisier.

rusty and old exhaust pipe

2. Physical Impacts

Depending on where you live or the terrains you drive on, blows to the exhaust pipe would also cause a drop in performance.

Potholes, rogue road debris, and other road hazards will deal damage, especially if you have a low-hanging muffler. 

3. Weak Gaskets

Faulty or weathered gaskets – the components found between the engine and the manifold – cause exhaust leaks that lead to a hissing sound in the engine. 

4. Badly Done Welding

If an auto mechanic recently fixed the exhaust and did a poor job of it, you may experience even more leaks.

5. Aging

Sometimes, all your 20-year old noisy truck needs is a muffler replacement. It's stuck by all these years and deserves one.

How To Keep Your Exhaust In Good Condition

1. Observe the Check Engine Light

Your "Check Engine" dashboard indicator can come on for several reasons. Still, it can somehow all be related to your emissions system.

If the light comes on, visit your car doctor promptly or do a checkup yourself. 

2. Fix Broken Components

Your exhaust system requires significant components to work correctly. For instance, if the exhaust hanger is damaged, it exposes the muffler to damaging physical impacts when it droops from the undercarriage.

Also, take sounds coming from the rear of your car seriously, and don't procrastinate repair or replacement when you discover anything.  

3. Fix Leaks Pronto

Exhaust leaks expand over time and do more damage than a whistling noise. These leaks also cause poor fuel economy and throw off your car's sensors as they get worse.

A timely fix gives you a quiet exhaust and saves you the money you could have spent on other repairs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Better – Replace Or Repair A Noisy Muffler?

If the noise from your exhaust remains unbearable after you give it a fix, go to an auto mechanic shop to have experts decide whether to repair or replace it.

Usually, if the damage is mild, for instance, a small leak, the obvious choice would be to repair it.

On the other hand, repairing a rusty muffler or one with plenty of leak spots will only be a temporary solution. It'll get damaged sooner rather than later, and most times, worse than before. So, definitely, replacement is the best option in this case.

Depending on the issue with your car's exhaust, repairs could cost you more in the long run. And the auto mechanic is the only one left happy in these negotiations. So, if replacement seems expensive at first, remember it's likely only a one-time payment - assuming you don't ram your car into potholes again.  

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Loud Exhaust?

You should set aside $150 - $400 for parts and labor, depending on what exactly needs fixing.

Conclusion

By now, you should have a good idea of how to make a car exhaust quieter.

The best solution is to be attentive and act instantly if you discover any damage. Patch up leaks or swap the muffler if you can. Visit a professional if it's more than you can handle.

I hope this helps. 

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