1989 Honda Accord Muffler- do it ourselves?

I saw on the main site changing a muffler is listed as a relatively easy repair. We are not keen on spending money we don’t have on repairs we can do. Is it cost-effective to do this at home? Is it safe with back of car on ramps? Pls. be kind, I am a total newbie save listening to Click and Clack since 1990 I believe.

The problem you’ll run into is removing the three rusty bolts/nuts that connect the muffler flange to the extension pipe flange. Once you get past that, then it’s just a matter of installing the new muffler with new bolts/nuts and a flange gasket.


This is not a job I like to do. If you’ve never worked on exhaust systems, it’s not much fun, rusty hardware, difficult to separate parts, that kind of thing. I don’t know about Hondas, they may be easier. What other car repairs have you done? What tools do you have?

I advise you to take the car to a muffler shop. On the surface changing a muffler out might seem to be a bone simple job. In reality, it often turns out to be wrestlting match.

Cutting torch, air chisels, hacksaw, Sawzall, etc. may be needed to get the muffler off and installing the new one may take an assortment of tubing expanders, sleeves, and a welding torch may be needed.

Buy a muffler and take it to a muffler shop. They can cut the old one off and weld the new one on in a few minutes.
There’s a reason why most shops and mechanics don’t fool with muffler work and farm it out.

So I’d need a torch, hacksaw and body armor?
I really appreciate these experienced answers. Actually my husband will appreciate them more… sounds like a muffler shop is best.

How about this - your husband backs the car up the ramps and takes a look? It will be pretty apparent what’s involved at that point, and he can decide whether or not to take it on. The good thing about exhaust work it that what you see is what you get, no delicate parts, no fancy alignments, and you replace all the old stuff you remove with new parts. If you can get the old muffler off, you’re 3/4 of the way done, assembly is normally the easy part. Just make sure you have the new parts in hand before you start removing things.

OK- I printed instructions on how to remove the muffler. But I didn’t see that I need a torch- I know that’s if the muffler doesn’t fit. I plan on buying the correct one…is it standard they need to be welded?

The hard part is removing the old exhaust as everything is rusted together. Installing the new exhaust is not hard as long as your new exhaust matches with the hanger locations on the car. Check auto parts sites on the internet to see what’s available for your car. It’s usually best to replace everything from the converter back. I used a Dremel tool with metal cutting blades to cut off my old exhaust without any difficulty, just wear safety goggles and a dust mask. Cut off the bolts at the flange, use dish soap to help pull off of rubber hangers. Then bolt and clamp new exhaust together.

It depends, some bolt together at flanges (like it sounds your Honda does), some clamp together (which are the harder ones to deal with, where a torch is more often used).

If I buy a muffler for my car, is that not the entire set-up? Do I need get pipes? HHAHA Don’t laugh, I graduated from the Car Talk Academy of Back seat mechanics. I did diagnosis a bad battery ( it was brand new) so I guess I think I can do anything- or rather direct my husband in doing this. As a kid he changed transmissions, but he’s much older : ) I am afraid of ending up with a jet engine. :wink:

You don’t want to buy these type of components off the internet. What happens when you recieve it and it’s the wrong part? Now you have to pay shipping to send it back.

These type of parts you want to purchase from a local parts store. That way if there’s a problem, you just bring it back, and then they can assist you in aquiring the correct component.


First thing first, your husband needs to look and see what’s bad. But I agree with ChevyBlues, for an '89 you’re probably better off replacing everything back of that cat converter (muffler, pipes, and hangers).

edit - and don’t forget nuts/bolts/gaskets!

The bolts will almost always be frozen on there solid from rust. Using the propane torch (not a welding torch) to apply heat is one of the things you can try to get them loose.

I wholeheartedly agree with everyone else, though. This job is something someone with the right tools and who knows all the tricks can do in a matter of minutes, whereas a DIY-er could take hours and hours battling it. I’ll also mention that on this car you need to buy a custom muffler with a lot of pipe attached to it to do a direct bolt-in. An exhaust shop can probably put in a generic one and save you a lot on the part. The total cost of going to the shop might even be cheaper than doing it yourself.

Thanks guys! I am better informed now. We will look under car and see what’s up,I am sure it’s a rust fest. Great advice about Internet buying, and why not to. Can’t express how impressed I am by all the in-depth help. Makes me want to work on my car…kinda. : )

I think you’ll get the flavor from these responses. Changing the muffler is a job that you can do yourself. It requires a bit more brute force than most other DIY jobs and you may have to deal with corroded bolts and nuts that simply are not going to move. You’ll either have to apply enough force to break them or cut them off. U-bolts can be cut with a hack-saw or Dremel. Unless you have an Oxygen MAPP gas or Oxy-Acetylene torch, nuts on bolts through flanges have to be removed, sheared, mangled off with a nut splitter, or cut or ground off with a Dremel Tool. I usually replace bolts and nuts like that with stainless steel bolts and nuts from the hardware store to make the next muffler change easier.

Yes working on ramps is safe. Work on reasonably level ground. Apply the parking brake. And put the car in Park or, if manual, in Reverse. And chock the wheels.

Get your parts at a local part store. If they aren’t cheerful and helpful, find another store.

You may need muffler cement (It comes in a tube and washes off easily) to get your connection to seal properly. Normally you won’t, but sometimes after-market parts don’t fit quite perfectly and muffler cement can fix small discrepancies.

I would recommend going to an independent muffler shop. I changed the muffler myself on my 1978 Oldsmobile. I bought the muffler at NAPA and had no problems doing the job. The next time the car needed a muffler, I was pressed for time, so I took it to an independent muffler shop. They did the job in 10 minutes while I took over an hour. The price they charged for everything was less than I paid for the muffler at NAPA.

I have an '89 Accord and have changed the exhaust components myself, not a hard job. The system consists of a flex pipe coming off the header, a mid pipe with the CAT, another middle pipe after the CAT, the muffler and finally the pipe which goes over the rear axle, with a chrome tip on the end of this tailpipe. I would give it a good look before doing it . . . the pipes can “stick” together from rust and be a real bear to remove, and you don’t want to do this more than once a year, so check to see what you really need and then go to it. My personal choice on this car is a Pacesetter exhaust, about $200 from CAT to chrome tip, and a really easy job (once you’ve got the old one off). Goes together easily and sounds great. Rocketman