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Jul 30, 2015

How To Inspect And Maintain The Exhaust System Of Your Car

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Your car’s exhaust system comprises the exhaust manifolds, exhaust pipes, muffler, oxygen sensor, and catalytic converter. These components work together to keep your car engine running cleanly and efficiently in all kinds of operating conditions.

Inspecting & Maintaining Car Exhaust System

Your car’s exhaust system routes dangerous exhaust fumes from the engine out and away from the vehicle so it does not affect the occupants. It also reduces exhaust noise from the engine, and the catalytic converter minimizes the extent of harmful pollutants in the exhaust. So, how can you tell when your exhaust system needs repair?

The most obvious indicators of a damaged exhaust system include:

  • Strong smell of exhaust fumes – Remember that the exhaust system is designed to get exhaust gases away from the car’s occupants. So, if you smell them while driving, there’s probably a leak that needs repairing.
  • Loud popping, rumbling, or hissing noises – If your car rides fairly quietly and then you start hearing noises coming from the underside, it is likely that the muffler has a problem.
  • Poor fuel economy – When your car starts burning more fuel, it is possible that the oxygen sensor is damaged and needs replacement.
  • Check engine light – The light will come on when your car’s emissions control system is malfunctioning. Your exhaust system is an important component of the emissions system, so you should get the problem checked immediately.

When you suspect that there is something wrong with your vehicle’s exhaust, you must check the accessible exhaust system components immediately. Useful inspection tips include:

  • Examine the entire exhaust system for cracks, from the engine to the tail pipe, paying special attention to areas where the manifold connects to the main pipe and cylinder.
  • Look for discolored paint or burn marks in the exhaust port near the cylinder head
  • Check the shine on your muffler and ensure that it has no punctures, holes, or obvious rust
  • Poke any area that you suspect to have internal corrosion with a screwdriver. If you poke thorough, you need to get the component replaced.
  • If you’re not certain of the problem, let a professional help with the inspection.

It is important that all inspection be performed when the engine is off and cold. The biggest enemy of the exhaust system is road salt, which causes metal parts to rust and corrode. So, inspect the system regularly and fix minor issues before they escalate into major repairs. Failure to do so may cause the problem to worsen, in terms of rust build-up, expanding holes, more gas leakage, more pollution, and ultimately, reduced gas mileage. During winter, consider washing the underbody every few weeks.


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