A muffler’s job sounds easy enough, reduce exhaust volume to tolerable-levels while allowing the sweet sounds of your ride to waft through the air. But this becomes a monumental task as horsepower increases. Engines build horsepower by pushing spent exhaust out of the tailpipe as fast as possible. As pistons furiously churn, exhaust velocity increases, making your ride louder. Not surprisingly, performance mufflers certainly have their work cut out for them. The 3 major types build horsepower, torque and control excessive noise but use different methods to do so. So, in this breakdown of the most popular muffler styles, we detail their construction, operation, performance and sound, with the goal of making it easier to find your ride’s ideal muffler.
Glass Pack Mufflers
Also known as a “straight-through” design, glass pack mufflers are the simplest style of muffler used on performance rides. At the heart of a glass pack muffler, is a single, perforated exhaust tube. This runs from inlet to outlet, with quieter mufflers using an angled tube and louder mufflers using a straight tube.
Fiberglass or steel wool packing is wound around the tube and enclosed in a steel or aluminum shell. And, with their low-restriction design, glass pack mufflers are great for building more horsepower and pumping out deep exhaust tones. Keep in mind though—glasspack sounds range in volume from noticeably louder-than-stock, to ear-splitting. So, if waking your neighbors is a concern, a turbo muffler is probably a better choice.
Want a classic muscle car tone burbling from the back of your ride? If you said “Yes”, a chambered muffler is right up your alley. Depending on their design, chambered mufflers are either slightly louder than stock mufflers, ear-splitting like race mufflers, or anywhere in between. This is due to finely-tuned baffles & chambers within the muffler.
Here’s how chambered mufflers work: Exhaust is routed through multiple chambers and around any number of angled, sound-cancelling plates, known as “baffles”. With few restrictions along the way, exhaust flow is boosted, increasing horsepower, torque and fuel economy. On top of that, your ride gains a rumbling, slightly metallic exhaust note that’s sure to turn heads. Best of all, packing materials that can blow out, aren’t used, so chambered muffler tones always sound great.
Despite the name, turbo mufflers can be used on any ride, turbocharged or not. That’s because their “turbo” moniker has nothing to do with fitment or performance—it just sounds awesome. But there’s a benefit to bolting on a turbo muffler versus a stock replacement—added horsepower and attitude. How do turbo mufflers do this? Simple, they give engine exhaust an easier path to follow. Stock mufflers direct exhaust flow in an S-shaped pattern through up to 5, perforated tubes.
Turbo mufflers on the other hand, use 3 or fewer tubes, so exhaust flow changes direction less. This means engine exhaust leaves the muffler faster, for an increase in horsepower and a better exhaust tone. And, turbo mufflers occasionally use additional fiberglass packing around the tubes for additional sound control. For this reason, a turbo mufflers sound can vary widely in volume and tone. But they work great as a “step-up” from a stock muffler and tend to be quieter that glass pack or chambered mufflers.
Which Muffler is The Best?
This is a commonly asked question, with a simple answer, “The best muffler is one that keeps noise where you want it, sounds great and adds horsepower.” For some drivers, only a race-oriented muffler will do the trick, regardless of the intense volume, interior drone, and extra attention from the law. But, while race mufflers are great for living life a ¼ mile at a time, they make it hard to order a cheeseburger at the drive-through. You see, there is no one, “perfect muffler”, just the one that suits your ride and driving style. Thankfully, with so many experiences in our muffler customer review section, finding your ride’s perfect muffler is a bit easier.