• Ashley Bradish

Cars Can Be "Exhausting"

Updated: Aug 23

Taking care of your car doesn't have to be a hassle. Let us help you with these tips on your vehicle's exhaust system.

An exhaust system will have these main components:

  1. Exhaust manifold- Rounds up the exhaust from all the cylinders and combines them into one pipe.

  2. Oxygen sensor- Measures how much oxygen is in the exhaust. The oxygen sensor will add or subtract fuel based on the measurement.

  3. Catalytic converter- Turns the harmful gasses from your engine into water vapor and carbon dioxide.

  4. Muffler- Quiets the exhaust released from the vehicle.

  5. Exhaust pipe- Connects all the previous components and carries the gasses through the exhaust system.

There are plenty more parts in an exhaust system. But to keep this month's blog short, let's stick to the basics.

What is the purpose of a car's exhaust?

So what is your car's exhaust for, exactly?

A vehicle's exhaust is there for several reasons:

  1. The exhaust keeps the emissions away from the car's cabin interior.

  2. It reduces the generated air pollution.

  3. A proper exhaust system can reduce the noise of your vehicle. Low volume is, of course, optional should the driver want a louder car.

Your car's exhaust system can also improve your fuel efficiency. When there is enough oxygen, the oxygen sensor does not need to add or subtract extra fuel to compensate.

Where is my car's exhaust system?

old exhaust system muffler exhaust pipes

Your exhaust system runs from the engine manifold to the rear tailpipe. It runs all along the underside of your vehicle.

To be more specific, your exhaust manifold attaches to the engine. Then you have the catalytic converter. The oxygen sensor mounts right onto the pipe near the catalytic converter. It is usually on the passenger side of the vehicle. Next is the resonator. Toward the back of the undercarriage, you'll find the muffler. Finally, the tailpipe comes out from behind.

When do I need to replace my exhaust system?

Broken-Off Exhaust System Pipe

On average, mufflers get replaced every 5-7 years. But potholes, salted roads, and speed bumps can shorten your muffler's lifespan.

The lifespan of your exhaust pipe will also depend on if it's the original. Exhaust pipes that come with the vehicle should last 10-15 years. Any aftermarket exhaust pipes can last from 2-15 years. It all depends on the quality and expense of parts.

Your exhaust system's components do not all have the same life expectancy. Exhaust manifolds and catalytic converters usually last longer than the pipes and mufflers.

Most exhaust systems wear out from internal corrosion. The parts break down from the inside out due to acidic exposure. This acid moisture is most harmful when the engine and exhaust remain cold over a long period. These acids cause the exhaust system to wear, even when the vehicle is off.

Keep an eye out for any developing exhaust issues or defects. You should always address car problems when they begin; don't wait until it is dangerous.

Be on the lookout for:

  1. Pipe leaks- Leaks in the exhaust system can lead to a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and less fuel efficiency. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and deadly. So it is important to make sure your exhaust is not leaking any gasses.

  2. Corrosion holes- It's like getting a hole in one of your old socks. You can keep wearing it (even though it's not protecting your foot) or get a new pair. A corrosion hole can lead to dangerous gases leaking into the vehicle's interior and the air.

  3. Rust- When surface rust goes deeper, it creates holes. These holes will compromise the fit and give you leaks. If left unattended, your exhaust will fall apart.

  4. Punctures- Rocks, potholes, and other road debris can cause punctures in the exhaust. These holes can lead to excessive noise and dangerous gasses leaking.

  5. Distortion- A misshapen muffler shell or piping can affect the performance of the exhaust.

  6. Rattling noise- A metallic rattle from under your car can be a sign that the heat shield is coming loose from its welds.

Heat shields protect the underside of the vehicle from the heat of the exhaust. A damaged heat shield can result in a decreased or negative exhaust performance.

What are the benefits of a custom exhaust?