How to Make Your Car Exhaust Quieter Without Performance Loss

Today’s modern world of driving is over-saturated with two types of people. There are those who are calm while driving because they see their cars as safety bubbles. On the other hand, there are people who are always anxious and get triggered quite easily. Noise, especially the one coming from exhaust pipes, is one of those things that triggers people. In most cases, the noise is distracting and hinders your ability to drive the car. Therefore, it’s important to find an effective way to reduce it in order to avoid potential inconveniences.

Having a loud car exhaust can either be purposeful (consciously made louder) or accidental. If it’s accidental, there are probably several reasons as to why it’s loud. For example, the exhaust might be old and worn, which causes noise. Alternatively, it might be affected by a car alteration. Whatever the case might be, one thing is certain – you need to make it quieter. So, let’s talk a bit about how you can do that.

Step-by-step guide to quieting a car exhaust and keeping a similar level of performance.

What Causes the Exhaust to Be so Loud?

We need to talk about the basics of sound waves and their frequencies in order to understand the noisy exhaust pipes. So, sounds can either have high (high-pitched noises) or low frequencies (a subwoofer bass). Lower frequencies are usually the ones that reach out further, which is what makes them so difficult to absorb. For example, you can easily hear the bass from a car that’s besides yours. However, you can’t hear the rest of the song (other instruments and lyrics) due to their frequency. So, the only way to reduce the noise is to cancel out the lower frequencies.

Anyway, if you’re interested in how to stop car speakers and doors from rattling, consider reading my article.

As for the possible causes, it could be anything from a simple hole in the muffler to more serious engine problems. So, let’s take a look at some of the possible issues.

There’s a Hole in the Muffler

High-pitched noises are always a good indicator that there’s a hole in the rear muffler. If you notice something like that, it’s important to act immediately. Why? Because there’s a chance that the exhaust fumes will seep into the car. As a result, you’ll breathe in carbon monoxide, which is extremely hazardous to your health.

The Resonator Isn’t Fitted Properly

Resonators have a specific shape that helps silence the sounds coming from the exhaust. If you hear a loud noise as you start accelerating, there’s a high chance that the resonator isn’t properly fitted. That usually happens if you’re driving a used car, or if the car dealer failed to install the resonator correctly.

There Are Problems with the Engine

Piercing and popping noises that are coming from the exhaust are a likely sign that something’s wrong with the engine. The solutions for this problem can be either simple or complex, depending on the engine’s condition.

Catalytic Converter Is Failing

There is a possibility that the sounds coming from an exhaust correspond directly to the noises from the catalytic converter. But, what is a catalytic converter anyway? That’s the part of the exhaust system which connects the muffler and the engine. Its main purpose is to convert harmful gases into breathable compounds.

The Exhaust Manifold Is Leaking

Finally, popping sounds from the exhaust are usually caused by a leak in the exhaust manifold (the part that accumulates the exhaust).

How to Make a Car Exhaust Quieter (A Step-By-Step Guide)

When it comes to exhaust noise reduction, you can either opt for a permanent or temporary solution. If you decide to use the permanent fix, you can choose between changing the muffler or using a sealant. On the other hand, there are numerous temporary fixes that you can try, and I’ll mention the most effective ones. But first, let’s talk about identifying the issue because that step is crucial.

Identify the Issue

The first thing to do here is to park the vehicle somewhere where the surface is even and stable. That will allow you to raise the vehicle later on and provide space to work on the issue. Therefore, the surface needs to be able to support the weight of the entire vehicle (concrete, for example).

Next, you need to let the exhaust cool down because it usually reaches high temperatures while you drive the vehicle. Skipping this step raises the chance that you’ll burn and injure yourself while trying to find the leak. Keep in mind that it takes several hours for the exhaust pipe to cool down.

Once you’ve done that, you’re free to raise the position of the car by using a trolley jack. Make sure that you attach the trolley to the appropriate points beneath the car before raising it. Additionally, you should always use jack stands to support the vehicle further. That way, you ensure that the space beneath the car is safe for work.

Now, you need to inspect the exhaust piping for any signs of damage. Start by inspecting the front part of the vehicle and then move gradually to the back part. You’ll have to look for punctures, holes, cracks, and even rust.

If you think that you’ve found the culprit, you can start the vehicle to confirm it. Alternatively, this step might help you find the issue if you weren’t successful up to that point. Just make sure that you don’t touch anything beneath the car while it’s working.

Fix the Issue

There are two possible ways to go about this. You can either replace the entire muffler or seal the leak. It’s worth mentioning that the solution is permanent, regardless of the option you choose. 

Replace the Muffler

The key step in replacing the muffler is having something to replace it with, isn’t it? That means that you’ll have to purchase another, possibly quieter, muffler. There are numerous options out there, so it’s important to find the right one. Therefore, you should consult with the person working in the auto part dealership. That way, you’ll surely get a muffler that corresponds to the model of your car.

Once you have the muffler, spray some WD-40 (or any other penetrating fluid) on the bolts. That will help you un-jam them more easily and remove the old muffler. However, note that you might have to apply the fluid several times before the bolts loosen up. If your muffler doesn’t have any rust on it, you can easily skip this step.

Now, you need to remove the bolts with a wrench. There’s a chance that the clamp will break during this step, in which case you’ll have to replace it.

Provided that you removed the bolts and the exhaust clamp, you can now slide everything apart. You can do that by pulling the muffler towards the back side of the vehicle. If the parts won’t move, try applying the penetrating fluid and let it rest for a while.

The next thing to do is to pull the muffler off the rubber mounts and replace it with a new one. The muffler mounts will have designated holes where the muffler hangs, so they should be easy to spot.

Finally, spray down the exhaust with a sealant and slide everything back together. The sealant will prevent the air from coming out by filling the gaps.

Seal the Leak

If you think that replacing the tailpipes is too much of a hassle, you can simply seal the leak. The first thing you need to do is to determine how bad the situation is. That will also help you determine the size of the patch.

Next, cut a piece of aluminum that covers the leak and the area around it. You can use any type of an aluminum can (for example, energy drink cans). However, you need to make sure that the part you cut out is larger in diameter than the leak.

Once you’ve done that, you can start mixing the epoxies in order to create the seal for the patch. It’s important not to apply too much because the epoxy has a tendency to leak into the exhaust pipe. If that happens, it could create layers that could even jam the exhaust system in some cases. To avoid that, try covering only the area that’s surrounding the leak and do not apply the epoxy to the edges of the gap.

Place the aluminum cutout over the area where it leaks and make sure that it’s secured properly. Alternatively, you could wrap the patch around the entire pipe if you want to be certain that you covered the gap. However, it’s important to apply constant pressure while wrapping the patch if you want everything to be secure.

Add another layer of epoxy over the aluminum cutout to strengthen the seal. This step is optional, but it’s advisable that you follow it. Why? Because the additional layer of epoxy creates a firm layer on top of the patch as it dries. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that the patch will leak again. Those of you who chose to wrap the patch around the pipe can use hose clamps to secure it.

Some Temporary Solutions

If you don’t want to bother with any of the above solutions, you might want to consider a temporary fix. However, keep in mind that these fixes won’t work in the long term because the leak gets worse over time. You will manage to deaden the noise a bit, but it’s probably going to come back later on.

Use the Wad of Steel Wool

An effective way of quickly addressing the issue is to use a wad of steel wool and place it into the exhaust. To do that, you’ll need to drill two small holes in the exhaust pipe (10 inches away from the end).

After you’ve done that, take a wad of steel wool and shove it into the holes as far as you can. The only thing that’s left to do here is to secure it. Firstly, you need to thread the wire so that it comes through both holes and the steel wool. Secondly, you’ll have to twist the wire around the exhaust pipe to tighten it.

The steel wool will work as a sound deadening material, and it won’t affect the vehicle’s performance in any way. In case you want to remove it, you can use a bent pipe (preferably a thin hook) to draw it out.

Use Bandages and an Exhaust Paste

Loud noises from the exhaust are usually the result of a cracked or pierced rusted pipe. Fortunately enough, there’s a quick way of fixing that, and it involves using a special product — an exhaust paste. The exhaust paste is a heat-resistant compound that can hold everything temporarily. In other words, it works like glue.

Once you’ve applied the paste, you can use some bandages to wrap the exhaust pipe. That will prevent the paste from moving around while it dries.

Additional Tips and Solutions For car Exhausts

If you’re really serious about making your car exhaust quieter, you can use some of these additional solutions on top of the one mentioned above. You can choose between soundproofing your entire car or using a silencer to reduce the noise. However, there might be alternative ways to do this, but I’ll stick to these two methods.

Soundproofing Your Car

Sound deadening mats for vehicles can have numerous uses. For example, you can use them to keep the temperature warm or cool. Alternatively, you can use them to isolate and deaden the sounds that are coming from the outside. That’s especially useful if you’re bothered by the noise your car’s exhaust makes.

The prime example of a sound deadening material is Dynamat Sound Deadener. The product is aluminum-coated, and you can literally install it anywhere you want. That includes the roof, doors, floor, and hood. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s extremely lightweight and it doesn’t affect the performance of your car.

Using a Silencer

Fitting a new silencer might be a bit expensive, but it can surely contribute to noise reduction. That’s especially true if the noise is the loudest in the muffler area. If you want to get a good product, consider purchasing a silencer by IKON MOTORSPORTS. You only have to insert it into the exhaust pipe, so it’s extremely easy to install.

Wrap Up

You should keep in mind that using some of these temporary fixes won’t solve the problem. Instead, it’s just going to prolong it. That’s why it’s always better to opt for permanent solutions if you really want to reduce the noise.

Also, I’m aware of the fact that there might be some alternatives out there and that these are not the only available methods. These methods simply worked for me, and hopefully, they will work for you too!

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