My '97 Outback Wagon muffler is very noisy. I saw the underside of car and mechanics pointed out rusted flanges and rusted pipes underneath. Cole Muffler and Firestone say $990 to fix and Midas Muffler says $435. What gives? How do I figure out why the big difference?
My experience is that muffler shops consistently provide lower pricing. Cole Muffler and Firestone may be using OEM Subaru parts, whereas Midas has the ability to repair without using the expensive OEM parts. I would have also expected Cole Muffler to come in closer to the Midas price than Firestone, since they are also specialists.
I suspect that is most of the price difference. Asking Cole and Firestone directly to specify what brand or where they will get their parts would get you a more precise answer.
The difference in price quote might also be attributable to differences in what the quotes include. The higher ones may involve replacing more of the exhaust system.
Good point by NYBo. Cole and Firestone may want to replace everything from the engine back, including the catalytic converter. Midas plans to replace the minimum, only what’s needed.
My personal experience years ago using Midas or Meineke, is their pipes only last a year or two before rusting out. Their muffler is warranted for life, but the other pipes only for 1 year. So you end up paying for new pipes and installation to get your free muffler every 2 years. I’ve always had a regular mechanic install a quality exhaust system ever since.