The resonator is a part of your vehicle’s exhaust system. It is sometimes referred to as a pre-muffler, as it is installed in the exhaust system after the catalytic converter and before the muffler. Some vehicles will have them and some will not.


Resonators cancel out a certain range of sound frequencies. You can think of it as a sort of echo chamber for your car’s exhaust. Resonators prepare the loud noise coming from your engine for the muffler to silence it. A resonator doesn’t just help remove sound, but changes it. When a car is designed, a team of acoustic engineers work to make sure that the sounds that come from your vehicle are as pleasant as possible. The problem that these engineers encounter is that the quieter an engine is, the less efficient and powerful it is. They could make a muffler that makes nearly no noise, however it would be so overly restrictive that the vehicle would become ridiculously slow and have a horrible fuel economy. The resonator is a sort of compromise. The muffler will quiet just enough noise on its own to make the sound not overly unpleasant, but as exhaust systems developed over time, the engineers came to realize that you can play with the vehicles sound before it reaches the muffler as well as get more power and efficiency out of the engine without making it any louder. Engineers learned that if they had an empty chamber (the resonator) for exhaust to travel through, the exhaust sound pulses would bounce around, or resonate, in there and some of them would cancel others out. The noises cancelled out in the resonator are usually the harsher noises and ranges where the exhaust note produced would be a loud drone or irritating buzz. Having these sounds cancelled out in the resonator make the job of the muffler a lot easier without taking any power or efficiency from the engine.


There are two situations when you would want to replace or install a resonator; your car was equipped with a resonator in the factory, or you add a custom exhaust system to your vehicle. Many people with performance cars will install a custom exhaust system with resonators to give them that deep, rumbly sound that is highly desired. If you are repairing your exhaust system, it is worth the extra cost to replace the resonator while you are at it. Failure to do so could mess with the way your engine is tuned.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicles resonator, exhaust system, or for any other car maintenance needs, please feel free to contact us at Meridian Automotive. You can call us at (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment here.

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