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How to Choose the Right Muffler

What Does a Muffler Do?

Designed to quiet the sound of the engine as emissions pass through and out of the exhaust system, the muffler is a key part of a gas-powered vehicle’s exhaust system. Located at the back of your vehicle, the muffler is attached to the tailpipe that carries the dangerous gases and sound out of the vehicle.

Keeping your exhaust system in proper working order is key to ensuring that your vehicle is quiet and keeping harmful gases from entering the cabin. When you have to replace your muffler, you have an important decision to make. Check out this muffler buying guide from Walker® to help you make the right choice.

How Does a Muffler Work?

Walker Muffler

The muffler has a surprisingly simple design to filter out the engine’s loud noises. Featuring a set of tubes with tiny holes, these tubes inside of the muffler reflect sound waves. As the sound waves bounce around, they cancel each other out to reduce the engine noise before they’re routed out of the vehicle through the exhaust tailpipe.

Direct Fit vs Universal Mufflers

Mufflers are available in direct fit and universal designs.

Direct Fit

Direct fit mufflers are designed to bolt on your vehicle with no specialized fabrication and/or welding during the installation process. Using the specs and space constraints for the vehicle its designed for, a direct fit muffler is engineered for OE-style fit and performance. This direct-fit, bolt-on replacement solution features OE-style hangers, brackets and pipe routings for easy installation.

Direct fit mufflers are perfect for vehicles that have the original factory exhaust system. In addition, they’re ideal for technicians who want to get the job done in a time-efficient manner and for experienced DIYers who want to complete the repair job without special tools or skills.

Walker Muffler

Designed to be used on a variety of vehicles, universal fit mufflers typically require some modifications including welding and/or fabrication. You might need to cut pipe or fabricate new hangers if they don’t match up with the existing hangers. Consider the design when choosing a universal muffler.

Universal mufflers are ideal for vehicles that currently have a universal muffler and for performance and vintage applications where the ability to customize the exhaust system is needed.

Walker SoundFX

What Are Mufflers Made Of?

While mufflers can be made in a variety of metals, the two most common are aluminized and stainless steel.


Aluminized mufflers feature low-carbon steel that is coated with an aluminum-silicon alloy to make it more corrosion resistant. Typically less expensive than stainless steel, an aluminized steel muffler can be a good option if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t get much snow and ice. While an aluminized muffler can survive in snowy climates, road salt can cause it to rust out in just a few years of normal use.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel mufflers deliver enhanced corrosion protection while providing years of worry-free operation. A stainless-steel muffler might be worth the investment if you live in a snowy climate where salt is used on the roads. The superior corrosion resistance can help increase the muffler’s durability and lifespan.

Signs of a Failing Muffler

Auto Technician

Mufflers primarily deteriorate from the inside out due to the acidic moisture produced by the combustion process. Detrimental to the performance of your vehicle, signs of a failing muffler include:

Exhaust Noise

Loud noises coming from the back of the vehicle is the telltale sign of a failing muffler. A properly operating muffler isn’t noticeable; it works in the background. If you begin to hear unusual sounds, it’s time to make an appointment with your technician.

Reduced Gas Mileage

If you’re making more trips to the gas station, it could be a sign that your exhaust system isn’t operating properly. A failing muffler causes your engine to work harder, which results in it using more fuel.

Scent of Strong Fumes

Your muffler works to pass dangerous fumes away from the vehicle. If your muffler has a hole or leak, those noxious gases could seep into the cabin of the vehicle. If you smell anything out of the ordinary, consult your technician as soon as possible.

If you notice any of these signs of a failing muffler, it might be time to replace your muffler. Have your vehicle inspected by your auto technician who will make a diagnosis on what repairs are needed.

Finding the Right Muffler

Once you’ve determined that you need a new muffler, you can count on Walker for a quality muffler that delivers OE-style fit, sound and performance for every application.

Quiet-Flow® SS

Walker Quiet-Flow SS mufflers feature 100% stainless-steel construction for a longer lifespan. In addition to Walker's renowned precision fit, superior flow and OE-style sound, Quiet-Flow SS is the only broad-market stainless-steel muffler to feature 100% stainless-steel heads, shell, bushings, louvered tubes and partitions. It is a direct-fit bolt-on replacement solution with OE-style hangers, brackets and pipe routings for easy installation. It is also available in muffler assemblies.

Walker Quiet-Flow

SoundFX® Direct Fit

Walker SoundFX® direct-fit mufflers are engineered with 100% aluminized steel for longer service life compared to low-carbon steel. Featuring mechanical interior joints and spun-locked heads for durability and stability, SoundFX® mufflers deliver quality appearance and favorable acoustics. 

Walker SoundFX

SoundFX® Universal

Featuring 100% aluminized steel for longer service life compared to low-carbon steel, Walker SoundFX® universal mufflers deliver quality appearance and favorable acoustics while mechanical interior joints and spun-locked heads provide durability.

Walker SoundFX Universal

Which Walker Muffler is Right for Me?

  Quiet-Flow SS Direct Fit SoundFX Direct Fit SoundFX Universal
Easy to install X X  
OE-style Performance X X  
Stainless steel material X    
Aluminized material   X X
Economical solution     X
Ability to customize (fabrication/welding may be required)     X
Vehicle driven in snowy climate where salt is used X    
Vehicle driven in warmer, temperate climate X X X

Learn more about QUALITY MUFFLERS, find your car part, or find where to buy your AUTO PART.

The content in this article is for informational purposes only. You should consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have questions relating to any of the topics covered herein. Tenneco will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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