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I suspect that I have a crack somewhere in the exhaust manifold by how loud the motor is. I know that one of the mufflers has a pin hole or two in it which contributes to the overall noisy operation. My questions are: (1) Why does the system have 3 mufflers? (2) Can two be eliminated? Thanks in advance for all information provided.
 

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From a performance standpoint, you should retain the front muffler, which is needed to terminate the tuned part of the system. With just that one left on, I think it's going to be louder than you like -- I'd keep the rear one and lose the middle one. That's how the earlier models were set up; why Volvo went to three on the injected cars I have no idea.
 

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If the 1800 was like the 142 E, the third 'muffler' in the tail pipe is a Helmholtz resonator, essentially an empty can. The resonator alters the characteristics of the exhaust noise, typically canceling the dreaded 4 cylinder 'drone' in the range where it is audibly most objectionable.
 
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