Hair where hair is not expected is, generally, disturbing. This goes doubly so for when hair is discovered in non-biological contexts, because if you’re suddenly finding hair in or on or around anything other than a mammalian something (perhaps arachnid or insect, if we count like fuzzy tarantulas) that usually means things have gone very, very wrong, often dangerously so.
Seeing lots of hair where hair should not be is the stuff of nightmares, which is why I was so surprised that I wasn’t familiar with the strange and deeply unsettling phenomenon where one’s car can, effectively, crap out hair. From the exhaust pipe, and like, a lot of hair. Wigs and wigs worth! It’s terrible, I hate it, so now let me show you!
I came across the phenomenon doing some sort of search, I can’t recall exactly what for, but it must have been perverse enough to land me on search results full of confused people talking about hair coming from their exhaust pipes:
Yes, friend, WTF indeed! Looking at the images that are associated with this doesn’t do anything to make you feel less creeped out, either:
Look at all the shades of hair! Brunettes and blondes, silvery strands and all sorts of extremely natural-looking sort of hair color combinations. These look like hair, like human hair. Video of the muffler hair just reinforces the sensation that you’re looking at lots and lots of long human hair being pulled out of your car’s anus:
Prefer chestnut brown hair? I gotchu:
This is all so hair-like that there’s at least one case of a person calling the police because they found what they thought was human hair in their car’s exhaust pipe. From the article:
“Deborah Lieber was planning a party last Thursday (10 February) when her husband William returned home looking ‘visibly rattled’ with a large ‘clump of hair’ in his hand.
He explained that he had pulled it out of the exhaust of his 2016 Ford Expedition and the couple, from Wisconsin rushed out to the driveway, where A&E doctor William continued to fish the lifelike locks from the vehicle.
Fearful there may somehow be human remains in their family car, they called the police – who were equally baffled by the discovery.”
The cops were even baffled! So what the hell is going on here, anyway?
You’ve likely guessed this already, but this stuff isn’t human hair. It’s fiberglass, and it’s used for sound deadening inside the muffler itself. You can see a good example of this in this video from our pal, The Humble Mechanic, who cuts open a muffler and reveals the matted hair-like mass of fiberglass sound absorption material:
If you don’t have the stomach to watch a muffler dissection, here’s a shot of the big hairy mass:
Really, that just looks like the inside of a barber’s trash can. You can also see in the comments to that video that several people were freaked out by the “hair”:
“This was a big help as we had no idea what was inside the tail pipe of our car and thought it was an animal that crawled in such as a skunk. That fiberglass certainly does resemble skunk hair. Thanks so much for educating me. I’ll be sore to watch more of your car tips “
“I just bought a 2010 Ford Transit Connect so I can convert it into a weekend camper. On Friday I saw “hair” coming out my tailpipe!!! I was so shocked and terrified, I didn’t know what to think! I still don’t know EXACTLY what is wrong but I have a theory considering how loud it is, even in idle and how much gas i run through… I think I need a new muffler or catalytic converter, or both! “
“it happened with someone car at work/ we thought an animal was in the muffler”
This is all just anecdotal, but based on the frequency that this gets mentioned online, I think it’s even more important to discuss muffler hair, because it’s clearly something that is disturbing and confusing an awful lot of people.
It’s just fiberglass sound insulation, and it just so happens to look exactly, and I do mean exactly, like human hair. Why don’t the muffler makers all agree to, like, dye the stuff a bright green or blue or some non-naturally-ocurring mammalian hair color, just to really scream that this stuff is artificial and no, you didn’t somehow suck a Pomeranian into your car’s intake.
I’m pretty sure of all the things that can go wrong on a modern car, the unexpected shitting out of massive strands and clumps of hair has to be the most unsettling and disturbing thing that can happen.
But if it happens to you, don’t panic! No mammals have been harmed, you’re not about to be involved in a murder investigation, your muffler is just falling apart, a bit. And, really, it’s not that big a deal. You can yank out all the hair, shampoo it and make a sassy wig, and still drive your car fine, likely just a bit louder. Also, it is fiberglass insulation, so maybe don’t handle it ungloved too much, or put it on your head, now that I think about it.