Do You Need To Tune After a New Muffler? (Myth Busting)

By December 24, 2022ECU Tuning, Muffler

Tuning after a muffler change is optional as long as the new muffler fits perfectly with your vehicle’s original parts. Once you have installed the muffler, you can choose to tune your vehicle or not – both have the pros and cons which I will discuss in this article.

Personally, I have had a dual muffler installed on my vehicle and did not have it tuned. All I did was clear error codes and it worked great in terms of sound improvement but not so much on horsepower gain. 

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Reasons Why You Should Tune After Muffler Change

A muffler tune comes with a lot of benefits. It helps improve how the muffler performs with the original parts of your vehicle. 

It would improve the airflow and help optimize the air-fuel ratio. You can also get the opportunity to reprogram the Engine Control Module (ECM) and add better features to help improve your engine and exhaust system. 

After changing your muffler, it could be a good idea to have your vehicle tuned. Below are reasons why you should tune your muffler after you get it changed. 

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1. Get rid of possible error codes / CEL

Whenever you change any part of the exhaust system, including the mufflers, the computer system detects that there has been some change in the exhaust system. It responds by throwing related codes to the altered part.  

Many people ignore the error, but they should not do that. The error code could affect how the computer system responds to the muffler’s functioning and the exhaust system’s proper running. 

By tuning the computer system, you have the vehicle’s system software updated to one that supports the new muffler. You can also have the code cleared in no time using an OBD scan tool. 

2. Achieve the most optimal Air/fuel ratio

Changing the muffler could also affect the air-fuel ratio and backpressure. Back pressure can affect the extent of fuel going into the engine, causing an increase in fuel consumption. 

A change in the muffler may affect the air-fuel ratio, especially if you get a restrictive muffler. In this case, tuning your car is the best way to make sure you are not running too rich or lean.

3. Opportunity for engine remap

Open Headers 101 Horsepower, Sound & Engine Impact Featured Image

Another benefit of tuning after changing the muffler is that it allows you to remap the engine to whatever you want. You can improve several areas of your engine and add several features like pop and bangs, and more. If you have been thinking of doing an engine remap, then now is a great time.

4. Improve exhaust flow 

If you get a restrictive muffler, it would be an excellent idea to tune the exhaust system to allow your engine to achieve better airflow. By tuning the exhaust system, you can get more suitable exhaust parts, like larger pipes, to allow exhaust gasses to flow better. 

Reasons Why You Should NOT Tune After Muffler Change

Having your muffler tuned is optional after changing it, as it could cost you more and be time-consuming. It also adds little or no power gain. As much as tuning comes with benefits, it also has disadvantages. 

Below are reasons you should not get your muffler tuned after getting a new one. 

1. ECU tuning is pricey

ECU tuning could cost you between $80 and $200. The price can cost even more depending on the brand and model of the vehicle. Furthermore, modifying parts of the exhaust system will cost between $200 and $1000. Remember the cost of labor, which will be $100 or more. 

2. No horsepower difference

By changing your muffler and tuning your car, you will not gain any horsepower. You could potentially gain a small amount of horsepower (like 5 horsepower) but don’t expect anything much. People often need to tune because the new muffler is not a direct fit to the vehicle (more or less restrictive) – definitely not to gain horsepower.

By the way, if you want to know more about tuning and power gain, I cover them in this article. Check it out: How Much HP Can You Gain From a Dyno Tune?

3. Time-consuming 

Tuning your muffler could be time-consuming; depending on the tuning you want, you may need an experienced tuner that could customize things for you. 

What’s worse is that tuning could be a trial and error game (it depends on your preference after all). If you don’t like the result of the tuning, you will need to wait more for the tuner to customize things even further for you.

4. Void warranty

Tuning your car by a non-certified shop, can void your warranty and even insurance. If your car is quite new and is still covered under warranty, I don’t recommend tuning it. That said, if your car is a spare weekend car that you can go crazy with, then tuning can definitely be fun. I cover this topic extensively in this article: ECU Tuning On Warranty & Insurance: Is It Legal & How To Reverse

How Much Does Tuning For Mufflers Change Cost?

Changing, upgrading, or reprogramming the ECM will cost between $400 to $1,000. If you are clearing the codes on the ECM due to the new muffler, it will cost little to nothing if you have an OBD scanner; Otherwise, it’s $20 to $100. 

In reality, it is rare to see people tune their mufflers because you will not get any additional horsepower from a mere muffler change.

 Instead, what you will commonly see is people tampering with their ECU to get rid of any codes of CEL shown in the dashboard. In this case,you can quickly clear the codes using an OBD2 scanner. 

If you want something more, then you need to perform an ECU tuning which allows the engine’s computer system to function properly with the new change to the muffler. 

With this, you can add other features by remapping the ECM like updating the engine torque map. It will cost between $400 and $1,000 to have any form of reprogramming done on the ECU. This won’t increase horsepower but can make your car feel more aggressive. 

Can You Tune Your Car Yourself? (For Less Cost)

It is possible for you to tune your car yourself. You will need some computer knowledge to install software and plugging in tools to your car’s OBD scanner. 

To reprogram or install an update on your vehicle’s computer system, you will need a passthrough device and an OBD scanner. The passthrough device is what you will use to reprogram your ECM. It is straightforward to use. Follow the instructions in the manual, and you are good to go. 

That said, if you want to tune your car and customize things specifically for you, then it’s most likely not possible to do it on your own. For this, you will need deep knowledge in a car’s ECM  – which takes a long time to learn.

The other more tasking part about modifying the muffler is with those that deal with physical change. The change of the vehicle’s parts and its recodification needs to be done precisely; if not, you might run into trouble with your exhaust system. 

To do this, get the proper guidance and tools to get started and ensure that you have someone there to help you. 

If you encounter difficulty, do not hesitate to call a professional to help. Spending little cash on having a pro to install the muffler is much better than further damaging your vehicle.  

Much more details about tuning here: Is Tuning Worth It: Costs, Risks & Power (Detailed Guide)

Conclusion: Should You Tune Your Car For A New Muffler?

Tuning the muffler is not a necessity after changing the muffler, but it is something that you can do to enjoy the benefits that come with it. Your vehicle will work fine with a new muffler, whether or not you decide to tune it. 

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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