As we watch the odometers on our vehicles rise we can expect to replace parts due to general wear and tear, particularly tires and brakes. Mufflers are no exception. Although the life of a car can vary depending on care and environmental conditions, they are designed to last about ten years or 150,000 miles. The average life of a muffler is about 100,000 miles. This average is significantly decreased in geographic locations where roads are sprayed with a treatment to improve winter driving conditions as the salt used in the treatment increases the chance of corrosion. There is no doubt that a muffler will need to be replaced at some point of the life of the vehicle. A vehicle with a bad muffler can use twice the gas it should. Also, it can emit toxic levels of exhaust into the passenger area endangering your family. Deterioration of the exhaust system may occur over time, so you may not be aware of the subtle changes on a day-to-day basis. Consider asking someone who does not ride in the car every day to help you conduct an inspection to determine if you should bring your vehicle to an authorized mechanic. Odd Noises from Your Vehicle Mufflers are part of the vehicle’s exhaust system, which is designed to optimize airflow. Flowing air that is disrupted will make noise and, if not corrected, the noise is likely to increase over time. Also pay close attention to where the noise coming from. Muffler noise will typically come from the middle to the rear of the vehicle. If the noise is coming from the front of the vehicle, the noise may be coming from something other than the muffler. Presence of Black Soot from the Vehicle If your vehicle has a bad muffler, it will have black or blue exhaust smoke coming from the tailpipe when the engine is started. Turn off the engine, chock the wheels, and use jack to lift your car so you can safely inspect underneath the vehicle. Again, looking in the exhaust system in the middle to rear of the car, inspect for black soot marks on the muffler. Black soot is indicative of a bad muffler that should be replaced. If you cannot safely inspect underneath the car, a mechanic should be able to show you when your car is on a lift. Any Unusual Odors You Notice Ask a friend or neighbor to weigh in their opinion as well as exhaust may inappropriately flow into the passenger areas, thus cars in need of new mufflers may smell slightly of smoke or gas. If you can’t smell anything but suspect there is an exhaust issue, note if passengers display allergy-type symptoms such as watery eyes and coughing. Excessive sleepiness may occur as well. Infants and elderly are especially susceptible to the toxins in the exhaust. Your car’s exhaust system should be professionally inspected immediately. Bring the vehicle in, and we can inspect the muffler and other components for you.