What Do Resonators Do? Everything You Need To Know

Buzzing noises? Loud droning sounds? High-pitched whistles? Those sounds are your exhaust notes. Just by reading these phrases, you already know that it’s no good, and you wouldn’t want to experience that. Not only is it too irritating as it can pierce your mind, but it also triggers a headache or possibly, other health hazards. It’s already too hard to sit long hours in your car for a drive, and you don’t want a health issue to add up to that!

You might ask, what does a resonator do that makes it so crucial for your vehicle? Here’s how resonators make driving pleasant.

Resonator’s Function on a Car

Resonators functions to cancel a range of sound frequencies from acceleration depending on its variation. It’s easier to think of it as an echo chamber that prepares the loud noise before delivering it to the muffler that does the rest of the silencing job.

Different sounding resonators work with a certain amplitude to cancel. If there are sounds your car makes that are very unpleasant to your ears, try to pinpoint them so you can get them removed with a resonator.

For car geeks, it’s basic knowledge that resonators only live for transforming the engine noise to something more tolerable to hear. It deletes almost all the uncomfortable sound you get before it gets to the muffler for the final refining of the leftover noise. However, a few other types of resonators can actually make your car sound go brr. Some are made to sound loud and kind of obnoxious, though some drivers prefer this type to flex their road champs.

Basically, the main advantage of installing a resonator is to change the sound profile of your exhaust to something you are more comfortable with.

The Cons of a Resonator

Other than talking about the functions of a resonator, let’s talk about the advantages of having it gone to give you a broader perspective.

  1. Taking off the resonator can reduce the weight profile of your vehicle. With a lighter car, you can drive with better fuel economy. Some drivers also found the muffler sustainable enough for a resonator delete.
  2. Heavy exhaust system build can make your horsepower rating a little lower. Pulling off your resonator can restore a bit of your original horsepower and boost five horsepower at most.
  3. Resonators don’t blend well with the aesthetics and appearance of the car. For this case, you can either get the resonator off for good or have it replaced.
Fuel economy car driving along the road.

Even with the cons of a resonator, you can’t deny that having screeching, rattling, or high-pitched sounds while traveling is too bothersome to take. If you think that these cons are enough reason for you to tolerate these kinds of sounds, then it’s up to you to get the resonator off.

Does Your Exhaust Need a Resonator?

Do you need a resonator for your exhaust? Technically speaking, most vehicles’ exhaust systems need resonators to avoid aggressive sounds. It is also a part of the exhaust system, so you don’t want it to be missing unless you’re okay with failing the annual emission inspection. Yes, a vehicle can work with a resonator. No, you wouldn’t pass the safety precautions of the law

💡 Note: Check the laws in your state.
Mechanic and customer customizing car.

Meanwhile, if you already have a resonator and want it replaced for something else, then it’s your choice to customize your car. You might want to get a second opinion from your trusted automotive technician as specific cars call for different resonator needs.

Sounds of Resonators

What does a resonator do to your sounds? Let me repeat it for you: it eliminates specific sound frequencies.

To change the sounds of a resonator, you can modify or delete it to improve your exhaust note based on your likes. Modifying or deleting is not an option for you? If that’s the case, you can combine it with other exhaust modifications to create the unique and great sound you’re looking for.

If you are someone who loves going around town to show off your beloved four wheels, an option for you that can do this job is the resonator exhaust tip with a large diameter. Make sure that you don’t have a big muffler, though! Resonators wouldn’t help much with making a loud sound as this muffler can block it all out.

More About It: The Right Time to Change a Resonator

Identifying when to change your resonator can be tricky. Here’s what you should memorize first to make it a little bit easier: you better know how it should initially sound so you’d recognize at a glance when it isn’t functioning well anymore. Do the instructions still seem unclear? There are more tips for you so you’d know when to get your resonators assessed and replaced.

  1. Your vehicle is starting to sound like a tin can. This scenario can happen when the resonator is damaged or swinging around. It’s not attached properly at its place; thus, the sounds can noticeably change.
  2. There’s a weird odor in your car. When a resonator is broken, it will leak and release hazardous fumes. It can escalate to a severe health hazard if not taken care of at once.
  3. Noticing that the overall performance of your car is not at its tip-top. Does your full tank-fueled car not travel with longer miles than before? One of the reasons can be your resonator, so you might want to get it checked to fix your fuel economy.
  4. The engine doesn’t start or gets quite a while to start. This one can be a serious indication that something’s up with your resonator. If it comes along with the other problems listed beforehand, then the resonator might be the one to blame for this misfortune.
  5. Check the engine light or the malfunction indicator lamp is flashing. It’s least likely that the resonator causes this problem (still, there’s a chance). Nevertheless, if this happens, you better get your whole vehicle checked. You don’t want an engine failure and a start of a misfire.
Exhaust pipe leaking.


Resonators create a more comfortable driving experience, relieving you of droning sounds that a vehicle can produce. Driving lengthy roads is already a tedious task to take, and having to sit around for long hours with an irritating sound will cause you much more stress. Just keep that resonator and make sure to get it checked regularly!

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!