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Does Your Car Turn Heads?

A domineering Bugatti Veyron could fascinate passers by. A Dodge Viper could do just the same. Also, hybrids like the Mercury Mariner and the Toyota Camry turn heads. Does your car turn heads as well?

If your car is not fabulous and worthy of every one's attention yet people turn heads when you pass in front of them, the car could be lacking in some aspects – say, the muffler could be deficient and noisy.

When driving on the streets or in racing series, the use of mufflers is crucial. Mufflers should also come in handy during long drives when the exhaust is downright exhausting. But which muffler should a driver choose?

Choosing a muffler depends on one's taste, engine, car space and type of vehicle. By nature, a muffler has profound impact on how a car sounds. Quite simply, its purpose is to muffle the noise produced by the engine. A muffler could be loud or quiet or somewhere in between. With regards performance mufflers, exhaust tips are already attached to them and a simple swap could make a statement.

To improve the performance of the muffler, exhaust flow must be increased. “Exhaust gases are a mixture of moisture, unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen,” said Bassani. “In exhaust systems, particularly on cars that are driven short distances, these gases condense and corrode mufflers from within. In fact, mufflers collect more moisture than any other exhaust component.” Moreover, it is necessary for exhaust system to fight foreign elements to maintain durability and performance.

Different muffler manufacturers have conveyed their expertise on the matter. With regards to this, the difference between a stock muffler and a hi-po unit Corsa Performance is said to be its Power-Pulse mufflers for the Corvette LS1 engine flow which is 45 per cent more exhaust than the stock Corvette system. Powertone said its patented open-chamber-design mufflers can provide an 8 to 10 per cent increase in horsepower, with improved throttle response and better gas mileage.

According to muffler experts, excellent performance could be had when the exhaust system including the mufflers produces a scavenging effect. “Scavenging is when a [reflective] low-pressure wave comes back up the header pipe,” said Kevin McClelland of Flowmaster mufflers. “You want it to get back to the exhaust valve when the engine is in overlap. It creates a low-pressure area at the exhaust valve and aids in the induction charge... getting your intake flow started into the cylinder.”

McClelland added, “When you get this optimized, you can get a boost in torque. Between that tuning and the intake manifold tuning, that’s how you can achieve over 100 per fect volumetric efficiency on a naturally aspirated engine.”

Another crucial matter regarding mufflers is the backpressure. “The backpressure on the exhaust flow can help to reduce sound, but at the same time, it limits engine power,” said MagnaFlow. “This power reduction comes from an inefficient burn in the combustion chamber, where spent exhaust gasses are backed up into the combustion chamber and contaminate the next burn cycle. It is often the result of restrictions to exhaust flow, which results in pressure buildup in front of the restriction. Turbulence entering or leaving a system component or abrupt changes in the direction of exhaust flow may also add to backpressure in the system.”

The “bigger the better” philosophy will not work on exhausts and mufflers. "An oversize exhaust will not hinder performance at high rpm. An oversize exhaust system would do about the same at high rpm, but you would lose power at low rpm,” said Kevin McClelland of Flowmaster.

About the Author: Hannah Racey is a 35 year old native of Chicago, Ill. She has been a car afficionado since she can remember. She now works for an automotive company based in Detroit, Mi. as a consultant.

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