You’ve heard the expression, “Different strokes for different folks.” Sure, it gets repeated a lot, but there’s a measure of validity to it. The principle behind it can be applied when the time comes to select the right muffler. The benefits of the different types vary from application to application, with noise output ranging anywhere from a low rumble to a window-shaking roar. Odds are, the guy driving a Shelby is going to be relish the sound of that hair-raising interior drone. The one who gets from point A to B behind the wheel of a Toyota… not so much.
There are a lot of choices out there and steps to take before you make your final selection. Read on to find out which muffler is best for you. We’ll also outline the respective differences and benefits of two of the most noteworthy styles on the market today from one of the more reliable names in the business – Flowmaster chambered flow and Flowmaster laminar flow mufflers.
First off, it’s important to understand exactly what your muffler does. In the simplest of terms, it reduces noise to a bearable level. When internal combustion takes place within your engine, exhaust gases are expelled as high-pressure pulses. These pulses are what create the powerful sound waves that some people love and others hate.
Aftermarket mufflers employ a combination of baffles, chambers, perforated tubes and/or sound-deadening materials to provide a solid, pleasing exhaust tone without creating too much backpressure that robs your vehicle of power. Manufacturers arrange these different components in a number of ways to deliver what their buyers want.
Finding the Right Fit
Now that you know exactly what your muffler was designed to do, there are a few things to consider about your existing exhaust system prior to selecting a specific model:
- Are you dealing with a single or dual exhaust system? Logically, a single exhaust requires a single-inlet muffler. If you’re merging a dual exhaust into one, then you need a dual-inlet muffler.
- Your inlets – and occasionally, outlets – need to be matched to your existing exhaust pipe diameter. If the end is fully exposed, you can use a simple tape measure or ruler to measure from one outside edge to the opposite outside edge across the center point. To find the internal diameter, do the same thing, only starting from the inside edge to the opposite inside edge. If the end of the pipe is blocked, however, you can use a pair of dial calipers to find the outside diameter. Finding the internal in this instance is a little more difficult – you’ll have to cut the pipe to make a proper measurement. For more detailed instructions, check out our article How to Measure Your Exhaust Pipe.
- Under-vehicle clearance must also be taken into account before finalizing your choice. Make sure the casing size and shape allows enough room within the confines of your ride’s undercarriage. The right length ensures ease of installation and proper clamping.
Now that you’ve got these details straightened out, it’s time to determine which of the two main muffler styles works for you. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Let’s check them out.
As their name implies, chambered mufflers from Flowmaster use a series of internal chambers to turn the street sound down, while simultaneously producing that throaty growl so often associated with American muscle cars. These are best saved for just about any high-performance street machine with a V8 and rear wheel drive.
The chambers come in different lengths and sizes to generate their distinctive tone. It should be noted that mufflers with fewer chambers – like the 2-chamber Flowmaster 40 Series – create less backpressure but are less efficient in noise reduction. Mufflers with more chambers, on the other hand, have a quieter performance with slightly greater backpressure.
Whereas chambered mufflers have been getting the job done since 1897, laminar flow sound mufflers are on the cutting-edge of innovation in Flowmaster’s lineup. They actually accelerate the exhaust flow as it passes through the tapered core and expands into the large volume outer core area in multiple layers. This all adds up to a design that delivers distinct torque and horsepower improvements over straight-through designs, along with a deep, mellow exhaust tone.
Ultimately, the right muffler for you is dependent on the sound you’re looking to lose or gain. As long as your measurements and fitment are correct, the biggest decision to make is the decibel level. For even more information about muffler sound, check out our Flowmaster Sound Chart.