Car Exhaust Problems: Repair or Replace?

Broken Exhaust
PhotoDu, Flickr

Has your car been sounding a bit louder lately? How about a lot louder? Either scenario could be taken as a telltale sign that your exhaust system need attention, or that your exhaust system is malfunctioning and needs to be repaired or replaced by an automotive service professional.

Here are a few tips to help you determine if your car exhaust problems need simple repair work or need to be replaced altogether. 

  • Park near a solid wall or another car so the sound of your vehicle echoes off a large object. Roll down the windows and start the engine on your vehicle. If you are parked in your garage, be sure to open the garage door. Turn off the radio and pay close attention. If your car’s gotten a lot louder than you’re used to, this will be your first indication that something’s amiss.
  • Try to locate where that loudness is coming from. Depending on where the sound is emanating from, it could be your muffler, connections to your catalytic converter or the engine exhaust manifold. A malfunctioning muffler will be heard toward the back of your vehicle where the exhaust pipe is. If the noise is coming from your engine compartment, it may be your exhaust manifold. If the noise is in the middle of the vehicle, it may be a connection to your catalytic converter or the converter itself.
  • Perform a back pressure test yourself (if you are up to it). First, get yourself a pair of gloves and a large rag or towel. The gloves will protect yourself from getting burned. Next, turn the engine on and cover the tailpipe with the large rag or towel. You should feel the flow of exhaust pushing outward through the tailpipe. If you don’t feel any pressure, this is a sign that your exhaust system may have a leak.
  • Is your muffler loose? Sometimes diagnosing a muffler on its last legs is as simple as observing if your tailpipe is loose, or if it moves a lot easier than it should when you wiggle it.
  • Give it the sniff test. If your car has started to give off an unusual odor or fumes, this could be a sign of a leak in your exhaust system. Get this taken care of right away – exhaust fumes are incredibly bad for your health and can even be deadly.
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Driving around with a leaking exhaust system can be both dangerous, costly and next time you get your vehicle inspected, it may fail. If your exhaust system is leaking or cracked and on the verge of coming off, you could cause damage to your car and others on the road if it decides to separate from your car’s undercarriage while you’re driving. To be on the safe side, make an appointment with a local auto repair shop to have your car exhaust problems checked out.

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