A muffler (silencer in British English) is a device for reducing the noise emitted by the exhaust of an internal combustion engine. This noise deadening device is especially one forming part of the exhaust system of an automotive vehicle.
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.
An unavoidable side effect of this noise reduction is 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.
On May 18, 1905, the state of Oregon passed a law that required vehicles to have "a light, a muffler, and efficient brakes".
The legality of altering a motor vehicle's original equipment exhaust system varies by jurisdiction; in many developed countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, such modifications are highly regulated or strictly prohibited.
Aftermarket mufflers usually alter the way a vehicle performs, due to back-pressure reduction.
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- D. W. Herrin (2012). "Vibro-Acoustic Design in Mechanical Systems" (PDF). University of Kentucky.