Best Mufflers: Great Mufflers For Improved Sound & Performance
Choosing a new muffler will increase your horsepower and give your car a satisfying sound
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PUBLISHED ON May 15, 2019
The muffler is one of the most integral parts of a car. It controls how much sound it emits from the engine through individual chambers existing within the muffler. Choosing the right muffler will give your vehicle a fantastic sound and improve performance and fuel economy. There is a muffler designed to fit every type of car, from hot rods to your Toyota Prius and everything in between. Here, we will compare the best mufflers, so read on.
- Best OverallBorla 40359 MufflerSummarySummaryThis muffler builds on the Borla name with a chambered design that delivers a deep rumble at idle and an aggressive growl on the highway.ProsProsThe aluminum design is universal with a 2-inch connection at either end of the muffler. The chambered design allows more exhaust through for improved performance.ConsConsThe 3-inch connection might be too short for most long bed trucks, so consult a muffler shop before installation. The throaty engine sound can get irritating on long drives.
- Best ValueFlowmaster 71236 Exhaust MufflerSummarySummaryThe Flowmaster 71236 is an exceptional value that will give your ride a fantastic sound for a fraction of the cost.ProsProsThe lightweight stainless steel design fits on most cars and trucks with minimal modification. The muffler emits a smooth sound that is not obnoxious.ConsConsThe muffler has a short pipe design that requires extension piping one some car models. The straight-through design won't sound as smooth on four-cylinder engines.
- Honorable MentionThrush 17661 Welded MufflerSummarySummaryIf you want a muffler that's all about sound and performance, the Thrush 17661 Welded Muffler is worth an honorable mention.ProsProsThe chambered design help increase throttle response and add a deep low-end growl to the exhaust sound. Installation is relatively painless thanks to the two-tier pipe design.ConsConsThe two-tier pipe design leaves little room for alteration unless you add more pipe length to the muffler. Also, the aluminum muffler is more susceptible to rusting.
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Benefits of a Muffler
- Sound. The main advantage of a muffler is a much quieter ride. The engine without a muffler is loud; it's the mufflers job to control the outgoing sound through chambers inside the design.
- Horsepower. An aftermarket muffler will allow more airflow and decrease the back pressure to the engine. Airflow gives the car an increased amount of power and throttle response.
- Fuel economy. You might not realize it at first, but adding an aftermarket exhaust can make a difference in your fuel economy numbers. The engine can circulate more air through, which makes for more efficient operation.
Types of Mufflers
Multiple Baffle Silencers
The mufflers that use multiple baffle silencers are the factory models that come pre-installed on a vehicle. This type of mufflers are restrictive and aim for a quiet sound instead of more airflow, which is why vehicle owners switch these out for aftermarket replacements.
These mufflers are a step up from the factory variety. The turbo silencer is a restrictive muffler that allows the air to flow through in a direct path. This muffler type has poor gas flow, but the sound is quiet and more suitable for the average driver who wants a modest upgrade over their factory exhaust system.
The straight-through silencer, known as the glass pack muffler or the "cherry bomb" in the car community, has been around for decades. The muffler initially gained notoriety in the ‘70s with the lowrider scene and has since become a go-to muffler choice for those who want a unique car sound and affordability.
For improving all-around performance and the sound of your vehicle, the performance silencers are the way to go. These are the mufflers you'll see coming from companies like Thrush and Flowmaster, to name a few. The performance silencer offers a deeper, more aggressive exhaust tone by using the resonating chamber in the muffler.
This muffler has grown in popularity during the last two decades, particularly in the import world. Also known as the "coffee can" exhaust pipe because of its distinct sound, the silencer inlets increase the horsepower rating thanks to the air passing straight through the tube, instead of going through the traditional chambers as in other muffler designs.
Thrush is one of the oldest companies in the muffler business, founded in 1996. It specializes in the hot rod and muscle car mufflers. The company has a strong presence in the NHRA drag racing scene and in the aftermarket car world where its vintage sound and notable performance have earned the company credibility with automotive enthusiasts. The Thrush 17651 Welded Muffler is an excellent choice for the hot rod enthusiast.
Flowmaster is one of the oldest and most well-known names in the muffler business. Founded in 1983 by Ray Flugger, it has remained one of the leading players in the performance muffler business. With a distinct muffler sound that resonates with car enthusiasts everywhere, the Flowmaster 9430452 Super 44 Muffler offers signature sound and increased horsepower.
Borla is a company founded by a husband and wife team in 1978, one that has pioneered the performance exhaust business. Borla mufflers are famous for a low crackling growl that is prominent on performance cars such as the Camaro and the Mustang. For a crisp sounding performance muffler, the Borla 40348 Pro XS Muffler is an excellent choice.
- Under $60: This is the price range where you'll find average muffler offerings such as the glass pack type and the lower-end performance silencers. This price range will not improve performance, but you will get a decent upgrade over the factory exhaust.
- $60-$100: In this price range, you'll find mufflers with upgraded performance. These mufflers are more suitable for performance vehicles and high-end luxury vehicles where you may want a more defined growl.
- $100-$300: The high-end price range, you will find mufflers that increase horsepower and performance here. These ones are often made of stainless steel for corrosion resistance.
The main reason that car owners typically buy a new muffler is for the sound reduction. Glass pack mufflers, for example, have a loud and crackling sound, whereas a chambered design tends to allow the vehicle to rumble quietly.
The muffler takes the brunt of the abuse with driving on the road, getting hit with debris, salt, and water. These attributes will eventually damage the muffler, which is why it's essential to consider which material is more suitable for your driving location. Aluminized steel is more susceptible to corrosion and rusting, so if you live in a salt prone area, this is not the ideal muffler choice.
- Exhaust Configuration: Another vital thing to consider when buying a muffler is the exhaust configuration. Do you want dual exhaust or a single pipe? Some vehicles come from the factory with a dual-exhaust design, which means you must buy two mufflers instead of one.
- Emissions Testing: An important thing to consider is whether or not a muffler will pass a smog test since not all mufflers are street legal. Without the smog certification, your car will not pass, and you won't be able to renew the registration. Check with the local laws and smog regulations of your state.
Best Muffler Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Borla 40359 Muffler
Borla is one of the best performance muffler makers in the world. The brand specializes in creating mufflers that increase your car's horsepower and add that signature Borla exhaust note. Featuring an aluminized design with a center outlet, the Borla 40359 Muffler delivers an exceptional sound. The chambered design makes the Borla 40359 Muffler produce increased horsepower and more responsive throttle.
The centered inlet-outlet configuration makes the muffler a universal choice because installation can be underneath a performance car or under a truck bed, depending on what your application is. The muffler is oval-shaped with a 3-inch exhaust opening that can accommodate custom pipe tips if desired. The oval shape can be a drawback if the installation area is tight on space, and the aluminum finish will lose its attractive finish after a few years.
Still, even with the minimal drawbacks, the Borla 40359 will increase horsepower at a fraction of the cost. Overall, this muffler is an excellent choice for the automotive enthusiast who wants a deep rumbling sound and improved performance.
Best Value: Flowmaster 71236 Exhaust Muffler
This entry-level muffler is the perfect choice for someone who wants to increase their performance and add a crisp sounding exhaust note without breaking the bank. The straight-through design is ideal for pickup trucks or a vehicle with a big V8 engine, as it allows a lot of air and combustion to come through.
The increased amount of airflow will improve your horsepower, besides adding that signature Flowmaster growl. The stainless steel case is more durable against salt and corrosion, which will ensure a longer lifespan of this muffler. Installation is a cinch with the straight pipe design; all that's needed is quick welding and the exhaust tips of your choice.
This muffler isn't without its drawbacks, though. The straight-through design can be problematic on four- and six-cylinder engines, causing an awful sounding tone. We should also note that the straight through design will require addition piping if you plan on using this muffler on a pickup truck.
Honorable Mention: Thrush 17661 Welded Muffler
Thrush is a reputable brand for purchasing a muffler for increasing performance and adding an aggressive sound to your car. This muffler offers a two-chamber design, which allows it to channel more air through the case. The design also creates a heavy sound while increasing performance dramatically from a stock muffler.
The two-chamber design is ideal for V8 engines, but the Thrush 17661 welded muffler will also benefit V6 engines. Installation of the Thrush 17661 welded muffler is its strong suit, offering a 2.25-inch or 3-inch design, depending on the application. The brushed stainless steel housing resists salt and corrosion better than most other mufflers.
The main drawback with the Thrush 17661 is the fact it is a rough performance muffler similar to most Thrush products, and the sound will be just that: raw and loud. The muffler comes aluminized, which is excellent for the looks, but it's susceptible to rust over the long term.
- You'll want to have a professional shop weld the muffler on since states that require a smog certification will check to make sure that the muffler is smog-legal.
- Remember that if your car came from the factory with dual exhaust, this means you'll most likely have to buy two mufflers instead of one.
- The exhaust tubing should never be less than an inch from the suspension and braking components.
- It is also essential to make sure that the muffler is more than two inches from the fuel system parts such as the gas tank.
- When picking a muffler, go conservative unless you are looking to enhance the performance. With exhaust, less is more if you are driving the vehicle daily.
Q: How does a muffler work?
A: Mufflers come in two types: chambered and glass packed. The chambered design allows the air to move through a series of tubes and chambers within the unit, which creates the exhaust note. Glass-packed mufflers are packed with fiberglass instead of utilizing aluminum or steel chambers, making a distinct popping sound.
Q: What size tubing should I use?
A: Mufflers come in all shapes and sizes, and the inlet/outlet openings vary from product to product. A general rule of thumb is to use a 3-inch pipe, but some mufflers from the factory come with a 2.25-inch inlet/outlet, so you'll want to check your vehicle's specifications first.
Q: Can I install a muffler without going to a shop?
A: If you are a do-it-yourself mechanic, and you have a fair amount of experience in vehicle repair, you can install a muffler at home. However, a muffler requires welding, and if you are not certified to weld or have the training, this is not a task you want to take on at home.
The Borla 40359 Muffler is our choice for the best muffler. It offers a durable design that will withstand corrosion while also providing the signature Borla sound.
For the best muffler value, the Flowmaster 71236 Exhaust Muffler is an exceptional bargain. It offers an aluminized design that's resistant to corrosion.