Last Updated on December 7, 2020
Any vehicle with an internal combustion engine and an exhaust system is bound to have a device called a muffler (or “silencer” in some parts of the world). Usually located at the rear of a vehicle, a muffler in newer cars and trucks is made to last the lifetime of the vehicle (or much less for older vehicles).
But, if you drive in areas with harsh winters and where road salt is used or near the ocean, your muffler may be affected by corrosion which eventually can cause a hole to develop in the metal. This in turn means replacement of your muffler (or mufflers on some dual exhaust vehicles) is necessary.
Before we get into what signs to look for if you have a hole in your muffler or exhaust, here’s a little more about mufflers themselves.
What is the Purpose of a Muffler?
A car muffler actually serves three main purposes. The first purpose is to lower the amount of noise that is generated by the exhaust system. The muffler redirects this noise so that it goes out of the exhaust pipes. That way, the passengers and everyone close to the vehicle will not be annoyed by these noises.
A second purpose of it and the rest of the exhaust system is that it allows the exhaust gases from the internal combustion engine to flow away from the engine. Not only does this protect the passengers from dangerous exhaust fumes created by the engine, it allows exhaust gases to cool via expansion and will prevent any spark or flame from the engine from coming out of the exhaust.
The third purpose of a car muffler is to maximize engine performance. The proper burning of fuel and air inside the combustion chamber is what produces power. The job of the exhaust system and muffler is to keep the exhaust vapors moving so more fresh air/oxygen can be sucked into the engine to produce more power.
What Causes a Hole in Your Muffler?
As already mentioned, salt is the enemy of mufflers and your exhaust system in general whether it’s from road salt use or living near the ocean. This can result in corrosion and a hole developing. But another danger exists.
Regularly driving through potholes or going too fast over speed speed bumps can cause damage to your muffler. The longer you put your vehicle under these conditions, the more likely that your muffler will suffer for it.
The result can a small dent, tear, or actually ripping a hole into an exhaust component. Once that happens, it will fail to do its job properly.
Top 5 Hole in Muffler Symptoms
When a hole begins to form in your muffler, there are some warning signs that you need to look out for. As soon as you notice these symptoms, you need to get your muffler or other exhaust component replaced right away. Here are five of the most common signs to look for.
#1 – Loud Noises
Obviously, the number one symptom of a hole in the muffler is noise. Since a functioning muffler is supposed to reduce noise, a muffler with a hole in it will fail at its job. This means the noises that would normally be reduced will now be louder… much louder.
If you don’t replace the muffler soon, the hole will only expand and get bigger in the muffler. Then, these rumbling sounds will grow louder at the same time. Since working mufflers are required by law in most areas, you risk being pulled over by the police and getting an expensive citation.
Related: How to Make Your Exhaust Louder
#2 – Carbon Monoxide
The muffler prevents carbon monoxide from the exhaust gases to get into the interior cabin where everyone sits in the vehicle. But if the muffler has a hole in it, you have an exhaust leak where the carbon monoxide will be able to find its way into the cabin.
The scary thing is that you won’t be able to smell, see or taste this toxic gas. Instead, you will just feel the effects of it. Some of these effects include dizziness, headaches, tiredness, and trouble breathing. If you breathe it in for too long, it can lead to death.
#3 – Emissions Test Failure
You cannot see carbon emissions when they come out of your tailpipe, but they are there. White smoke coming out of your exhaust doesn’t necessarily mean excess emissions. The only way to know if you’re producing fewer carbon emissions is to get an emissions test.
Most states require you to get these tests while some do not. If you happen to live in a state that requires you to get the test and then you end up failing it, this could be due to a hole in the muffler.
See Also: Straight Pipe Exhausts (Pros/Cons)
#4 – Rust Holes
Mufflers normally have small holes called “weep holes.” The purpose of these holes is to let water drain out of the muffler so that rust does not form. But if you see rust holes forming close to the exhaust pipes, these are not the weep holes. Anytime you see rust holes, you need to be worried.
#5 – Engine Misfires
It is important for the entire exhaust system to be functional to ensure the engine runs smoothly. If just one component of the exhaust system is damaged or worn out, then it can cause an engine misfire. A hole in the muffler is one possible way your engine could misfire.