How do you know if you need a new muffler? For such an important component of your car, light truck or sport utility vehicle, mufflers remain a mystery to many drivers. But there are definite warning signs that your muffler is on the fritz. Here are the most common ones:
Listen and Learn
If your vehicle is louder than it normally is while idling, it’s a potential sign that you’ve got muffler problems. Ask a friend or relative to start your vehicle while you listen for rattling, rough idle or other louder-than-normal sounds. A noisy muffler could very well be a damaged muffler.
Reading Smoke Signals
Excessive exhaust smoke could signal the need for a new muffler. Check for smoke by having a friend or relative start your car while you stand behind it and see if any smoke spews out.
After letting your vehicle idle for five minutes or so, take it for a short spin and see if it smokes. If the exhaust has a blue tint, it could very well be a sign of muffler damage.
What’s That Smell?
Sometimes listening and looking aren’t enough to determine whether or not your vehicle needs a new muffler. Sometimes you’ve got to use your nose. Smoky or gassy odors may indicate a malfunctioning muffler. If your eyes often tear up while you drive, it may also be a sign of a leaky muffler that needs replacement.
Black exhaust deposits can build up on your muffler and exhaust pipe. This is usually a sign of muffler trouble. To get a better idea of what you’re dealing with, crawl under your vehicle and take a close look at the muffler and tailpipe. Black discoloration is a sign that your muffler may not be performing optimally.