What is an exhaust resonator in a car? What it does & the best products

Your vehicle has multiple systems, which ensures a good driving experience. The entire functionality of your car depends on these systems, which work together to transport you from one point to another. While every system is important, the exhaust is probably the most complicated part of your vehicle.

This system comprises several parts, including the manifold and the catalytic converter, which is mandatory for every car. This system aims to improve your car’s performance and safety, and this is where the resonator comes in.

Your engine produces noise which sometimes can be uncomfortable, especially if you are driving late at night. This part is similar to a muffler; its purpose is to lower the engine sound. In this article, we will talk about what is an exhaust resonator in a car, what it does, and also recommend you the best products for this part. 

Vibrant ultra quiet resonator

What does a resonator do on an exhaust & what is its purpose?

The resonator is essential for your car as it reduces engine noise. While the catalytic converter reduces gas emissions, the resonator will decrease noise pollution. Some car enthusiasts prefer a louder noise, and that is when they are considering a straight-piped exhaust system

But those that want to reduce the noise will always look for a resonator. This part is situated before the muffler, and it directly helps this part with noise reduction. The entire resonator is designed and built as an echo chamber that cancels specific sound frequencies. 

Before the noise can enter the muffler to be silenced, they are canceled by the resonator as they pass through it. This modification is ideal for daily drives or long journeys where the loud engine noise could be inconvenient. 

How do resonators work?

Engineers that designed this part are highly skilled and perform several tests before installing such a modification to a vehicle. Nevertheless, they are among the smartest workers in the automotive industry because the efficiency of this part directly reflects their hard work.

As the sound comes from the engine, it features many frequencies which vary depending on the engine speed. For this reason, the sound is never exact or repetitive, and the frequency is constantly changing. That is why resonators are built to work within a frequency range instead of a single format.

But this part can work well even if the frequency is outside its range. The noise will be canceled to some extent, and the muffler can reduce it completely. 

The Rolls Royce Cullinan is one of the most silent SUVs, where the only noise you hear while cruising down the highway is the wind. Luxury vehicles often feature a high-end resonator that reduces the engine sounds almost completely. 

Stainless resonator

Resonator delete pros and cons

Before removing a resonator from your vehicle, paying attention to the good and bad things this part brings is important. There are advantages and disadvantages to an exhaust system equipped with a resonator, and they are: 

Pros

Let’s look at these 5 things it does:

  • Keeping your muffler intact
  • Lowering the sound profile
  • Potentially altering emissions on your car
  • Reducing the weight

Keeps your muffler intact

The addition and removal of a component can often affect the adjacent ones. But when you take off the resonator, the muffler will not be affected. You won’t have to make any special modifications to your car once you remove the resonator.

Minimal maintenance

Once you remove this part, you will no longer have to deal with extensive maintenance. This operation generates no performance issues, and you won’t need to repair anything after you finish the job. 

Change in the sound profile

As you remove the resonator, you will notice a better sound. If you are a car enthusiast, you will enjoy the authentic engine sound, which allows for a greater driving experience.

Depending on the state, removing a resonator is legal, and you don’t need permission from authorities. You should do an emissions test after finishing the removal process and ensure your car does not exceed the limit. 

Reduced weight

The performance of your vehicle increases proportionally with the removal of weight. Because you are removing a part from the exhaust system, your vehicle also gets lighter, and you will notice a slight increase in power. 

vibrant performance box

Cons

There are also reasons not to do it, including:

  • Voiding the warranty
  • The check engine light coming on
  • Reducing the in-flow speed
  • Creating odd sounds

Voided warranty

New vehicles have a warranty, which will help you tremendously in case something wrong happens with your car. But if you conduct the repairs yourself or if you remove some parts from the car, the warranty is canceled. 

Check engine light

The companies that manufacture newer vehicles are increasing the focus on the exhaust system since they want to lower emissions as much as possible. That is why the check engine light might light up on your dashboard as soon as you take the resonator off. 

Reduction in flow speed

It also helps the gas to move faster, and the sound waves are evacuated through the chamber, increasing space for fuel and air. When no resonator is installed, the flow speed is reduced in the exhaust, but this shouldn’t significantly impact performance.

Odd sounds

If you are performing some spirited driving at higher RPMs, you will notice some screeching noises produced by the exhaust. While a resonator would completely cancel them, their presence does not affect your driving. 

Difference between a resonator vs. muffler

muffler and resonator

There are many differences between the resonator and the muffler. Still, we will look at their most important purpose and functions. These two parts are separate components but work together for the same purpose. They are both intended to reduce noise levels, and you will find that they work best when paired together.

The resonator is focused on specific frequencies and will help lower the noises with its special echo chamber. On the other hand, the muffler is more generalized and will try to reduce the entire exhaust noise. It is the main difference between them but also the reason why they work so well together.

Mufflers create back pressure and can lower your vehicle’s performance, whereas resonators have a minimal impact. Because there are specific laws regarding noise levels, all cars must be equipped with a muffler. It is the same with a catalytic converter which is crucial for reducing gas emissions.

But a resonator is optional, and you can always remove it. However, you might want to consider such a procedure’s advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. 

muffler and resonator seen from above

Resonator vs. catalytic converter

The catalytic converter and the resonator are similar in some ways. Both of them reduce pollution but in different operations. The catalytic converter is responsible for lowering gas emissions, whereas a resonator will reduce noise pollution.

Catalytic converters are mandatory by law, and every vehicle driving on public roads will have one installed. Without this component, you will only see cars on the racetrack or closed circuits. The catalytic converter is essential in reducing emissions and keeping the environment safe.

This part is also the most expensive one in a vehicle since it is manufactured with precious metals. The pollution levels are drastically reduced by preventing the toxic emissions from leaving the exhaust with the fumes. 

Feature Resonator Catalytic Converter
Purpose Reduce exhaust noise Reduce emissions
Type Passive Active
Material Stainless steel or aluminized steel Ceramic or metallic substrate
Cost Less expensive More expensive

However, a resonator is not mandatory to have on your car. It is more of an addition to the muffler, which already contributes to reducing noise levels. Mufflers are equipped on every vehicle, but resonators are optional and up to your choice.

Some people will remove them if they desire a louder and more original sound, but this is not recommended for your daily driver as it can get annoying over time. 

What’s inside a resonator?

These parts are often made from steel formed into a hollow cylindrical tube. This tube is attached to the muffler to increase its efficiency. There are many vehicles featuring this upgraded exhaust system that greatly reduces the noise produced by the engine.

This resonator brings various benefits to your vehicle, including noise reduction and better overall performance. Fuel economy is also increased, and you will be able to notice a smooth driving experience. When you have to do fuel emission tests, the resonator will help you tremendously as it prevents the rattling of the chassis.

Inside a resonator, you will find hollow chambers specifically tuned for a range of sound frequencies. It also contains a resonating system and a resonant circuit, but the chamber takes up most of its internal space. 

Are you curious to learn any more about either of these parts?

  • The hollow chambers
  • A resonating system
  • A resonant circuit

What does a resonator look like?

These components are cylindrical and look similar to the catalytic converter and muffler. Some are manufactured from steel and other metals to increase their durability. Still, you can also find some unique wooden resonators installed on older cars.

Inside the body, one or three cones will contribute to noise reduction. The resonator is an optional part that is not present in all vehicles you see on the road. However, the most experienced car enthusiasts will be able to figure out if a car has a resonator just by listening to its sound. 

Do I need a resonator on my exhaust?

It is a good question that many people ask themselves. Having one installed on your vehicle’s exhaust system has various advantages and disadvantages. In most cases, you will need one to control the sounds that come from your car’s exhaust.

Being too loud is only appreciated at a race track. If you start your vehicle in the middle of the night, you might wake up an entire neighborhood if you drive a muscle car without a resonator. 

Best exhaust resonators

Vibrant 1141 2.5″ Ultra Quiet

VIBRANT ULTRA QUIET RESONATOR seen from the top

Many options are available for you, but none are as good as this one. With a 2.5″ inlet and outlet, the ultra-quiet model cleans up the loud noise well. It successfully cancels the loud frequencies and gets rid of odd sounds without modifying the tone too much.

Specific measurements have been taken both before and after this resonator was installed on multiple vehicles. It has been found that only 15dB is reduced from the overall noise. It is enough to make your vehicle legal for the roads, and you will not have any problem with authorities.

While it will be placed underneath your car and not easily visible, its design is still something to appreciate. With rolled edges and a polished stainless steel finish, this product speaks of high quality through its appearance. 

Pros

  • It has a great look.
  • It is lightweight.
  • It worked surprisingly well when installed.
  • If compared to no resonator, it works wonders.

Cons

  • They’re not ultra-quiet like claimed, although they do a significant job.
  • It might not do much compared to an OEM resonator.
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Where to place the resonator in the exhaust – before or after the muffler?

The location of the resonator is entirely up to you, as there will be no difference in the sound. Most of the cars will have theirs installed after the main muffler. Still, you can also encounter models that feature a resonator before the muffler. 

Take into consideration the entire exhaust system of your vehicle before randomly placing the resonator. Think about the future and ask yourself whether you want to modify the structure of your car in the future. The answer will help you decide on the position. 

Have you decided if you’re keeping yours or getting rid of it and seeing these things happen:

  • Voiding the warranty
  • Changing the sounds of the car
  • Having the “check engine” light come on

FAQ

How much does a resonator delete cost?

Removing a resonator is not expensive, and anyone can do it regardless of their budget. It is a fairly cheap procedure and will cost you around $100 or less. But if you prefer to modify the exhaust system, expect to pay around $300. 

Is a resonator delete legal?

In most states, removing the resonator is not illegal. You are free to perform this operation without your local authorities’ approval. The resonator is not mandatory on vehicles and is an optional choice that will help with noise reduction.

The muffler and the catalytic converter are illegal to remove, as they perform essential tasks on your car to protect the environment. 

Does a resonator delete affect gas mileage?

After you remove the resonator, you will notice that the performance of your vehicle has increased as the frequencies generated by the engine are optimized. While it will make the car sound more aggressive, it will also help improve the gas mileage. 

Will a resonator quiet my exhaust?

The resonator will help with noise reduction when it is paired with a muffler. This part has a hollow echo chamber that neutralizes sounds of certain vehicle-generated frequencies. Because it helps with noise reduction, this is an ideal addition for a daily driver car you use to commute to work. 

Noise reduction is always beneficial to those around you as they won’t be disturbed by the exhaust sounds. It is effective, especially at night when the sounds travel easier. But car enthusiasts will be eager to remove this optional part from their exhaust system as they desire a more aggressive and sporty sound.