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Common Exhaust System Problems

25/Dec/2022 147 |

The exhaust system is located under the car, which makes it susceptible to damage from harsh driving conditions. The two biggest problems with the exhaust system are leaks, which can cause loud noise while the engine is running, and emission failures in the catalytic converter or oxygen sensors.


Exhaust manifolds can crack or warp, and the bolts holding them can loosen, causing an exhaust leak right next to the engine. Depending on the size of the leak, it may sound like a small tap, tap, tap, or a loud rumble while the engine is running. Leaks at the manifold will usually cause a black stain from the escaping exhaust gas.


A gasket is a seal that fills the space at the connection point between two components, such as two pipes in the exhaust system. Hot gases can burn away the gaskets and cause leaks. Gasket and pipe leaks result in louder than normal sounds from the exhaust system when the engine is running. 


Excessive oil or carbon can clog a catalytic converter. When this happens, the engine will not accelerate very well and may stall after a few minutes. An engine with a clogged converter may also send an error code from the O2 sensors to the computer. A clogged converter should be replaced by a professional. Catalytic converters can also become “poisoned,” usually due to an additive run in the engine. These additives coat the converter and cause it to stop working or work less efficiently. Poisoned converters can be detected by the O2 sensor or by an emissions test.


The oxygen sensors measure the output from the engine and tell the computer how to adjust the fuel and air mixture for the most efficient operation. If something is wrong with the O2 sensor, the “check engine” light will come on, and the computer will post an error code. leak


Punctured or rusted-out exhaust components can cause leaks. Leaks make the engine noise louder and can be dangerous as they can allow toxic gases into the cabin.


The flexible part of the hanger can fail, causing the exhaust system to sag or even break. When a hanger breaks, you may hear a “clunk” as you are driving due to the exhaust system hitting the car, or it can start dragging on the ground. A broken or damaged hanger should be replaced.

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