A muffler (North American and Australian English)[1] or silencer (British English) is a device for reducing the noise emitted by the exhaust of an internal combustion engine—especially a noise-deadening device forming part of the exhaust system of an automobile.[2]

Silencer (silver) and exhaust pipe on a Ducati motorcycle
A silencer cut open to show the insulation, chambers and piping inside the shell


Dual tailpipes attached to the muffler on a passenger car to reduce the sound produced.
A muffler with pipes

Mufflers are installed within the exhaust system of most internal combustion engines. The muffler is engineered as an acoustic device to reduce the loudness of the sound pressure created by the engine by acoustic quieting. The noise of the burning-hot exhaust gas exiting the engine at high speed is abated by a series of passages and chambers lined with roving fiberglass insulation and/or resonating chambers harmonically tuned to cause destructive interference, wherein opposite sound waves cancel each other out.[citation needed]

An unavoidable side effect of this noise reduction is the restriction of the exhaust gas flow, which creates back pressure, which can decrease engine efficiency. This is because the engine exhaust must share the same complex exit pathway built inside the muffler as the sound pressure that the muffler is designed to mitigate.

A cutaway muffler showing the interior pipes and chambers which reduces horsepower

Some aftermarket mufflers claim to increase engine output and/or reduce fuel consumption by slightly reduced back pressure. This usually entails less noise reduction (i.e., more noise).

On May 18, 1905, the state of Oregon passed a law that required vehicles to have "a light, a muffler, and efficient brakes".[3]

The legality of altering a motor vehicle's original equipment exhaust system varies by jurisdiction; in many developed countries such as the United States,[4] Canada,[5] and Australia,[6] such modifications are highly regulated or strictly prohibited.

Aftermarket mufflers usually alter the way a vehicle performs, due to back-pressure reduction.[7]

A muffler on a large diesel-powered truck

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "muffler (noun)". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary. "Definition of muffler". Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  3. ^ Goeres-Gardner, Diane L.; Douglas County Museum (2010). Roseburg. Arcadia Pubpishers. p. 97. ISBN 9780738580319. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Regulations Section". Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  5. ^ Queen's Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (9 June 2020). "Motor Vehicle Act Regulations". Retrieved 16 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "vehicle-noise". NSW Environment & Heritage. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  7. ^ D. W. Herrin (2012). "Vibro-Acoustic Design in Mechanical Systems" (PDF). University of Kentucky.

External linksEdit