If your car is getting loud, replacing the muffler can do a great deal. Mufflers go bad or break for reasons including exposure to the elements, physically hitting things, and components around them breaking.
When they do, they stop interfering with the noise your engine makes, and your car will get loud.
While that’s annoying for you, it’s also illegal anywhere inside of city limits. That’s because noise levels exceed levels allowed in most urban areas.
In addition, losing or damaging your muffler might change how your car exhausts, reducing the safety of your vehicle.
The average cost of replacing a muffler is $100-$200. However, costs can range from $50-$350+. Here, $15-$300 covers the cost of parts, and the rest is labor. In most cases, your mechanic will spend 1-2 hours on the job.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of muffler replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Muffler Replacement Cost?*
The cost of replacing your muffler mostly depends on the muffler you’re buying. However, labor costs, other parts of the tailpipe in need of replacement, and your specific car can also impact costs.
For example, if you buy a new muffler for a performance car, it will always cost more than a “standard” muffler.
The following chart covers the average costs of muffler replacement across popular vehicles.
|Vehicle||Muffler Cost||Labor Cost|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||$93-$331||$85-$360|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (June 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
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Muffler Replacement Pricing Factors
Normally, the largest factors influencing the cost of a new muffler include the vehicle, the cost of labor, and what kind of muffler you’re purchasing.
It’s also important to consider whether you’re replacing just the muffler or the full exhaust.
The following cost factors will influence what you end up paying for the total job.
Scope of Work
Replacing a muffler can range from a quick job of undoing some bolts and sliding a new section into the exhaust to something more complex.
Worst-case scenario, you’ll have to have the old muffler cut out of the exhaust and a new one welded in. That increases the time and labor intensity of the work.
In addition, you may have to replace more than “just” the muffler. If other parts of the tailpipe are out, you’ll have to replace those as well.
For example, replacing the full exhaust can cost well over $1,000. In fact, rates between $1200 and $1800 are common.
If you have to replace the muffler and the short tailpipe next to it, you’re probably looking at $500-$800 total.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to inspect the exhaust pipe before doing the work. If you know what’s gone wrong and where there’s damage, you’ll have a better idea of the scope and what costs should be.
Type of Muffler
Mufflers range from basic universal kits to high-end performance parts.
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) mufflers are the original parts installed on your vehicle in the factory. Choosing an option depends on your driving needs.
For example, performance mufflers are extremely expensive and it’s unlikely you can get one for under $500.
However, these are made for performance driving. They’re carefully designed to optimize exhaust flow, giving the engine fractionally better performance.
OEM mufflers are also more expensive than generic mufflers. You’ll likely pay $250-$380 for one. However, you can trust that you’ll have the exact same experience with this muffler as with the original.
Aftermarket mufflers are the most common and range from made to fit to universal. Here, universal mufflers are the cheapest, with costs typically starting around $30.
However, it’s extremely likely you’ll have to weld it in place. So, while you’ll save on the muffler, you might pay more in labor.
On the other hand, many mufflers are welded in by default.
Make and Model of Vehicle
The make and model of your vehicle will impact costs in several ways. For example, the availability of the muffler, and even the space under the chassis.
In most cases, the more common your vehicle, the cheaper and easier it will be to replace the muffler.
And, that reflects both on cost of parts and cost of labor, because your mechanic will need less time for a job they’ve done before.
Cost of Labor
In most cases, you’ll spend at least an hour of time changing a muffler. If the muffler has to be cut out and welded in, it could take longer. And, if other parts have to be replaced, you can expect even more time.
Here, the actual rate depends on where you live. Nationally, you’ll find mechanics charging anywhere from $15-$215+.
That averages out to around $100 with national chains normally starting at about $94.99.
Plus, you’ll have to add on shop fees and the cost of any welding equipment used – as, quite often, there will be a machining fee.
5 Symptoms of a Bad Muffler
If your muffler is going out, you’ll hear it. That’s true whether you have a puncture, if the muffler is corroded, or even if you’ve lost it.
The most common symptom of a bad muffler is noise.
1. Loud Exhaust
If you can hear your vehicle more loudly than before, it’s a good sign something has gone wrong with the exhaust or the muffler.
Taking a look under the car will usually give you a good idea if something is up or not.
In addition to a louder engine rumble, you should listen for rattling and shaking noises. These often occur when the muffler is loose, or the catalytic converter is broken inside.
If the exhaust isn’t venting properly, it could cause your vehicle to misfire. While that same issue can occur at any point in the combustion or fuel injection system, the exhaust is often the issue.
Of course, misfiring doesn’t pinpoint to a muffler issue. However, it does say that something is off with the fuel/air ratio in the injection chamber, and that’s a good place to start.
Car exhaust normally causes significant condensation inside the muffler and the exhaust pipe. Normally, this is evaporated off by the heat of the vehicle. Sometimes, water is left to sit in the exhaust.
Over time, this, salt corrosion, and dampness outside the vehicle can cause corrosion. If your exhaust starts dripping, it usually means there are holes in it. That’s always a sign to replace or repair your muffler.
4. Vehicle Running Hot
If your vehicle isn’t venting exhaust properly, it will trap and retain heat. That can cause the temperature gauge to go up.
In addition, if the problem gets bad, it could actually cause your vehicle to overheat.
While there are plenty of other issues that could cause this, checking the muffler and the exhaust system is a good idea.
5. Physical Damage
If you can slide under your car and inspect the muffler, you can get a good idea of whether or not anything is wrong. Mufflers can fail if they break on the inside.
Tubes between the resonator chamber and the outlet can come apart. Rust can damage the body on the inside.
Alternatively, debris may have become trapped in the muffler, in which case you may simply be able to clean it out.
However, most muffler damage occurs on the outside. This may include punctures, dents, or rust. Here, you can often see issues with a physical inspection.
How to Replace a Muffler: 9 Steps
If your muffler is going out, you can normally replace it yourself with little hassle.
However, if you’re replacing your muffler with a universal model or have a universal model in place, chances are high you’ll have to weld it in place.
This guide assumes your muffler attaches with a yoke. In this case, you can simply bolt the new muffler on.
Things you’ll need:
- Floor jack
- Penetrating fluid
- Wrench and ratchet set
- Breaker bar
- New muffler meeting the specifications of your car
- Flange gasket for the car
- Exhaust system cement/muffler cement
- Jack stands
- Disposable gloves
- Wire brush and rust cleaner
Before you get started, jack your car up on the rear passenger side. If you have a center exhaust, jack the car up from the back.
Then, use jack stands to stabilize the car. This is important to prevent it from falling on you.
Make sure you allow the car to cool down before starting work. The exhaust can be extremely hot.
- Find the bolts attaching the yoke at the front of the muffler. Spray them with penetrating fluid and allow them to sit for a few hours. Alternatively, you can try to get them off with a breaker bar first.
- Break the bolts loose. Most yokes have 3-4 bolts around the muffler.
- Pull the muffler down to pull the yoke out of the flange.
- Then, pull the muffler forward to pull the body out of the supporting ring (if applicable). You may have to unbolt the muffler from the back as well.
- If you’ve purchased a muffler that hasn’t been pre-assembled, assemble it now. This means fitting the short pipe into the muffler, fitting the gaskets, and fitting the flange gasket at the top. You should use exhaust pipe cement as well as any screws or bolts provided by the manufacturer.
- Slide the back of the muffler into the supporting ring, if applicable.
- Fit the flange into the vehicle at the engine side and loosely attach the bolts.
- Then, adjust the muffler until it sits right, with the tailpipe in the right place. This can take some wriggling and adjusting bolts.
- Tighten the bolts on the flange to the manufacturer’s specifications.
You should always start your vehicle and double check for escaping exhaust around the new parts to ensure you have a tight seal.
If you still have questions about replacing your muffler, this FAQ should help.
How long does it take to replace a muffler?
Normally replacing a muffler will take 30-120 minutes. Cut and weld jobs will always take longer than if you have a bolt system in place.
However, if you don’t buy a made-to-fit or OEM muffler, you will have to weld the new muffler in place.
Can you replace just the muffler?
It’s highly likely you can replace nothing but the muffler. However, the short exhaust pipe between the muffler and the engine also often has to be replaced.
On the other hand, these often come pre-installed into mufflers, so that may not be an issue.
Can you drive with a broken muffler?
Normally, you can drive with a broken muffler. However, it may be illegal. In addition, if your muffler is causing exhaust flow issues, it could damage your engine.
If your car is loud, rumbling, or having exhaust issues, the muffler is a likely culprit. Often, you can see if there are issues with a simple inspection. If there are, replacing your muffler is relatively simple. Muffler replacement costs usually run between $100 and $200 but can run well over $400 depending on the muffler you buy.
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