It’s safe to say that the muffler is one of the most important components of any vehicle’s powertrain. It has two important jobs: to help get rid of the emissions efficiently and to keep the engine noise to a minimum, ensuring a comfortable ride. Sadly, like all the other metallic parts, it wears out over time. The hot fumes, immense pressure, and harsh weather can have a catastrophic effect on the muffler.
So, it’s not rare for small holes to appear on it, compromising the entire exhaust system. Luckily, there’s a quick and cheap remedy for this: instead of buying a brand-new muffler or spending big bucks at a repair shop, you could use tape. But does muffler repair tape work, or is it just a myth? Let’s find that out together!
Signs of a Faulty Muffler
If you see a small chunk of the muffler gone, that’s an obvious sign that it desperately needs a repair. But what about when you’re behind the wheel and don’t have the time or the desire to check on the car every single day? How do you realize that there’s something wrong with the exhaust system? The #1 thing to look out for is a loud, strange noise upon starting the engine. It should get louder once you reach higher RPMs.
Excessive fumes are also a clear sign that the muffler is malfunctioning. You could ask a friend to drive around the block a couple of times and keep the eye on the exhaust tip. Finally, if the tailpipe is emitting a funky smell, that could also mean you’re dealing with a faulty muffler. And remember: on average, stock mufflers last for 3 to 5 years. Aftermarket gear has a higher life expectancy (5 to 7 years).
So, if you’ve been driving around with the factory-issued exhaust system for a couple of years now, most likely, it’s starting to rust and lose its efficiency. Alright, now that we’ve checked out the most common symptoms/signs, let’s talk about what the repair tape can do for you.
Muffler Tape: How Efficient is It?
I bet you’ve seen a repair tape somewhere at a convenience store. Usually labeled as the muffler slash tailpipe tape, it’s available for 10-15 US dollars. Specifically designed to seal holes and cracks, it will only take 15-20 minutes to set and requires no mechanical skills whatsoever. But does it actually work, or maybe you’ll be better off paying an auto shop to handle the muffler?
Here are the facts: the experts are calling the repair tape a temporary solution. No matter how many layers you use and how thorough you are, the tape still won’t make the exhaust system look (or perform) as good as new. The reason: if there’s a hole in the muffler, that means it is rusting from the inside. The gas/fumes that run through it are very hot and toxic, and, eventually, they lead to corrosion.
The tape will, indeed, keep the fumes from escaping the exhaust and will also dial down the noise. However, you won’t be able to fix the bigger problem, which is a rusted tailpipe/muffler. With that said, if you’re looking for a quick and cheap solution, I’d say go for it. Muffler tape can hold up pretty well and will keep the vehicle going until you find the time and the money to buy a new muffler.
So, to answer the big question: muffler tape – does it work – yes, it does, but don’t expect it to fix your exhaust system and restore its original efficiency. Besides, it is only effective against relatively small holes. If it’s bigger, even the widest line of tape won’t do much good. Oh, and if the muffler is starting to rust, welding won’t fix it either, because the metal is way too thin for that.
How to use Muffler Tape
Before you get under the vehicle and find the exhaust system, don’t forget to use a jack to raise the back of the car. Once you’re happy with the height, put a couple of jack stands on each side. Now it’s time to put your hands on the muffler. Essentially, it’s a round (or, rather, oval-shaped) metallic can located on the far end of the exhaust.
I recommend using a cap lamp for inspecting the muffler and finding the hole. Or, you can just turn on your phone’s flashlight. Before you apply the tape, use a piece of cloth to clean the muffler. A regular mix of water and soap will be great for this. Give the muffler an hour or so to dry and then unpack the tape. For the best result, don’t only wrap it around the whole: cover a couple of extra inches from both sides.
How many layers do you need? Well, there aren’t 100% wrong or right answers here. On average, one inch of overlapping should be enough. Climb out from under the vehicle and start the engine. Wait for 15-20 minutes for the tape to bond with the muffler, and hit the road!
What to Look for in Repair Tape?
If you want the muffler tape to be as efficient as possible, there are a couple of things to consider. First of all, check the temperature resistance range. If you see something like 1800-2000 degrees Fahrenheit, the tape will be strong enough to “handle” the hottest fumes. Also, check the package for the “mechanic-approved” tag.
That means it was tested in real-world situations by third parties and has proven its worth. Obviously, the tape should have chemical resistance to oils, fumes, car fluids, and salt. If you don’t see any of that in the specs, you shouldn’t buy this tape. It would also be great if the tape was universal. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about any compatibility issues.
A quick note: some folks claim that you won’t have to buy muffler tape because the regular duct tape is just as useful. However, that’s not true, because duct tape can’t stand the heat. Besides, it uses rubber-band adhesive to “stick”, while muffler tape uses the heat from the exhaust to mix with the tailpipe/muffler and create a bond.
Muffler issues are very common, especially in areas with a harsh climate. Plus, if you do a lot of off-roading/race-driving, that will put extra pressure on the exhaust system. Now, as we learned today, the muffler tape isn’t a magical solution to all your problems. However, if you need a here-and-now solution, it will do just fine. Muffler tape is available for cheap and doesn’t require any pro skills to use.
And, it holds up pretty fine, but don’t rely on it for a long period of time. No matter how great the tape might be, it still won’t be able to fix the real problem, which is rust and corrosion. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the muffler/tailpipe tape. Still got some questions? Reach out through the comments!