A prolific inventor, Milton Reeves designed the first muffler in 1897 to reduce the release of noise and toxic fumes. This component is typically mounted underneath and at the rear of a vehicle. Every state has laws governing the condition and performance of mufflers installed on everyday consumer vehicles.
Several common symptoms indicate that your muffler needs replaced or repaired. These include rust or soot covering the tailpipe and hisses as well as jangling or loud boom noises when starting, accelerating or braking. A leaky exhaust may also allow fumes to seep inside the passenger compartment resulting in sleepiness or a headache while driving.
In This Guide
- Average Muffler Replacement Cost
- Muffler Repair Cost
- Exhaust System Repair Cost
- What Should Be Included
- Factors That Affect the Cost
- 3 Common Symptoms of a Muffler Problem
- When Should a Muffler Be Replaced?
- How Long Do Mufflers Last?
- How to Save Money on Muffler Replacement
- How to Replace a Muffler
- How to Find the Right Shop
The exhaust system plays an important role in diverting fumes from the engine, which in turn keeps the vehicle running smoothly. Accumulated exhaust gases can eventually cause engine deterioration. As a result, it is essential that you have your exhaust inspected regularly by a professional muffler shop.
Average Muffler Replacement Cost
|Muffler||$60 to $120|
|Hangers, gaskets, silencers||$20|
|Labor||$80 to $100|
|Total||$160 to $240|
|Your Mechanic||Parts & labor||12 months||$50 $215|
|Midas||Parts & labor||12 months||$50 $270|
|Mr. Tire||Parts & labor||12 months||$55 $230|
|Pep Boys||Parts & labor||6 Months||$60 $315|
|Repair Type||Average Cost|
Muffler replacement costs can range from $75 to $750 depending on several factors. The average cost for installing a mid-range replacement muffler on a typical sedan is between $150 and $250, including parts and labor.
While inexpensive generic aftermarket mufflers are priced from $25 to $50, installing them can be difficult. They may require additional parts or special modifications to fit and function correctly. Made from inferior materials, they may not last very long.
The cost for a medium quality mid-range muffler designed to fit the average mid-size sedan will range from $50 to $125. The cost of a high end, high performance muffler or one required for a luxury vehicle is $300 to $500.
If the car has been driven is areas with rain, ice, snow and road salts as well as other severe road conditions, the resulting debris can damage other system parts. As a result, parts like gaskets, hangers and silencers will have to be replaced along with the malfunctioning muffler. These parts could add $20 or more to the overall cost of a new muffler installation.
If the resonator or pipe on the current muffler isn’t salvageable, that will add $100 to $150 to the cost of repairs, while an exhaust tip will add anywhere from $25 to $50.
Installing a new muffler is not time intensive. Most repair shops will charge for an hour of labor at least, which averages $80 to $100.
Muffler Repair Cost
The cost of minor muffler repairs, including fixing a broken clamp or welding a loose but functional muffler back into place, can cost between $30 to $400 or more depending upon the work required and labor rates in your area. The average cost is around $100. Reports indicate that the most reasonable repair prices are found at local, independently owned muffler shops.
When you suspect an exhaust problem, the best course of action is to book an appointment at a muffler shop for a free inspection. The problem may be a relatively simple issue to correct, such as replacing a worn or missing gasket. The inspection will help determine the extent of the problem. Once the issue has been diagnosed and you’ve been given a quote for the repairs, ask your go-to general mechanic to see if they, or someone they know can fix it for a better price.
Although small holes can usually be patched and easily repaired, you will probably have to replace your muffler if there is significant damage.
Repairing the muffler by patching a small hole is generally a short-term solution. Another hole will usually appear within a few months, so most shops will recommend that you replace the muffler instead of repairing it.
Exhaust System Repair Cost
Extensive exhaust problems can be caused by a damaged muffler if it isn’t replaced. If it is significantly rusted, the rust has probably made it’s way up the exhaust pipe.
Mufflers can be difficult to replace the muffler alone on older cars because they are often welded in several places to the exhaust system. In newer cars, exhaust system components such as the tailpipe, muffler and catalytic converter are simply bolted together – making disassembly and replacement easier.
If additional components like the catalytic converter must be replaced, the total repair costs can add up to $1,000+.
What Should Be Included
After a thorough inspection, a muffler replacement estimate should include labor and all required parts, including the muffler, pipe and gaskets.
Depending on the brand and quality, the muffler will come with a limited or a lifetime warranty. However, this usually does not cover the pipes and components attached to it that typically wear out faster than the muffler.
For some vehicles, the muffler has to be ordered from a dealership if it is a “dealer only item”. Although this may not affect the price, it can delay repairs by several days.
Factors That Affect the Cost
- Year, make and model of your vehicle
- Whether you replace it yourself, use an independent shop or go to a dealership (which is typically the most expensive option)
- Whether you use generic aftermarket parts or an OEM muffler, which is usually more expensive
- Cost of auto mechanic labor in your area
3 Common Symptoms of a Muffler Problem
There are several signs that you should have your muffler replaced:
1) Increase in Exhaust Volume
Strange noises such as a low rumbling sound coming from underneath the rear of your vehicle is an obvious signal that you have a problem with the muffler or exhaust system. Rather than the normal, smooth hum, your car will make a reverberating sound similar to that of a motorcycle or boat motor being revved.
Repairing the problem quickly is your best option. Postponing essential exhaust or muffler repairs can cause other issues with the engine or exhaust system that may make future repairs more costly.
2) Feeling a Vibration
If you notice relatively constant vibrations while driving your car or you lose power occasionally, take the automobile to a shop for a complimentary exhaust inspection. Tell the mechanic what the vibration felt like and where you think it’s coming from. Potential locations include the steering wheel, the operating pedals or the driver’s seat. This symptom could be caused by a hole, a disconnected component or an exhaust leak.
Depending on the extent of the damage, vibrations can be accompanied by the rumbling sound mentioned above. In addition to pointing to a potential issue with the muffler or exhaust, vibrations may also indicate that your engine is not operating at peak performance.
3) Decrease in Fuel Efficiency
If you notice a drop in fuel mileage, take your vehicle to a local service center for an inspection. Along with noticeable vibrations, diminished fuel economy is a telltale sign of exhaust issues. Exhaust leaks are notorious for making your motor work harder, which uses more fuel.
When Should a Muffler Be Replaced?
A number of other issues can eventually be caused if a hole in your muffler isn’t fixed, so you should replace it as soon as possible.
A perforation has the potential to cause:
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) to leak into the cabin. A colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is created as a byproduct of combustion, it can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea in small quantities. Sustained or heavy exposure can be life threatening to occupants in the passenger compartment.
- Unacceptable noise levels that can lead to fines as many areas have laws and regulations governing vehicle noise levels.
- Excessive noise inside the passenger cabin can make your trips uncomfortable.
- Incomplete combustion or overheating can damage the engine.
Consider these potential issues when deciding whether to pay for a muffler repair now or putting it off until the problem becomes more serious.
How Long Do Mufflers Last?
Mufflers may need to be replaced because they become clogged or develop holes and rust. The majority of mufflers are replaced simply because they have reached the end of their serviceable life. This time frame varies considerably.
While mufflers last 10 years on average, the service life can range from five to 15 years depending on various factors, such as exposure to rain, snow and salt. Unfortunately, an inferior-grade aftermarket replacement muffler may only last three years in areas with harsh weather and driving conditions.
How to Save Money on Muffler Replacement
Covered Under Warranty
Mufflers are usually covered by a new vehicle warranty that can last up to 50,000 to 60,000 miles or longer. If your car is relatively new, check your owner’s manual to see the terms of your warranty before bringing your car to a shop.
Do the Work Yourself
With the right tools and equipment, you can do a muffler replacement yourself. While you must still pay for the parts, you can save money on the cost of labor. You may also be able to purchase a muffler and other parts for less than what a repair shop would charge. Garages usually mark up the parts that they install. A reader in California reported paying only $45 for a muffler installation they did by themselves.
The tools you will need include: a pry bar, hacksaw as well as the correct size deep wall sockets. If nuts are bolts are seized, use some oil to lubricate and make them easier to loosen so that you can remove clamps and brackets.
Exhaust system components are available for sale from many online retailers and prices vary considerably. Purchase the best model you are able to afford as it will usually last the longest.
Be sure to budget for new clamps, brackets, and hangers, if the part does not come with them. When reassembling the exhaust system, be sure to have an appropriate jointing paste ready.
Larger garages as well as regional and chain repair shops may offer exhaust system repair coupons and seasonal specials to make it more repairs more affordable.
How to Replace a Muffler
2. Disconnect the battery.
3. Jack up the vehicle, and place it on jack stands.
4. Spray the muffler clamps with penetrating fluid.
5. Loosen the nuts holding the clamps with an an open-end, adjustable or socket wrench.
6. Separate the muffler and exhaust by sliding them apart.
7. Put on eye protection and gloves for your safety.
8. Use a hand or power saw to cut through any completely rusted components.
9. Cut through just past the clamp using a hacksaw.
10. Don’t damage any nearby parts of your vehicle.
11. Remove the muffler hangers from the rubber mounts.
12. Place the muffler onto the exhaust to check if it will fit properly.
13. Place the new muffler hangers into the rubber mounts.
14. Apply exhaust sealant to the new muffler’s pipe.
15. Slide the muffler onto the exhaust pipe.
16. Re-install the clamps to secure the connection.
17. Start the engine, and check the exhaust system for leaks.
Start your car’s engine and listen. If it sounds smooth and there are no major vibrations, the new system was probably installed correctly. Take your car for a test drive on several different types of road surfaces if possible and listen for any weird noises. After the test, double-check the clamps and nuts to ensure that they are still securely fastened.
A correctly installed replacement muffler should improve the engine’s efficiency and provide years of trouble-free performance.
How to Find the Right Shop
While Meineke or Monro are not generally recommended as repair shops, mufflers are not overly difficult or crucial to replace. As a result, this is the one repair that they should be allowed to perform since it is their specialty.
They will also generally:
- Diagnose problems and provide a free estimate.
- Offer cheaper service compared to independent shops because of their buying power.
- Stand behind their work if they make a mistake and try to make it right.
Note: As mentioned above, this advice is limited to their work on mufflers and exhaust systems. Anything that that risks the safety of passengers or could potentially damage your vehicle should only be performed by a dealership or reputable mechanic.
Over to You
Had a repair or replacement done in the past? Have a quote on a job and not sure if it’s a good deal? Have a question about a particular situation? Let us know by leaving a comment below.