The exhaust system in your vehicle has progressed over time to become a combined safety and emission control system. Frequent checks of your exhaust system are a must to provide for you and your family’s safety. Make sure there are no holes in the exhaust system or in the passenger compartment where exhaust fumes could enter.
The exhaust system’s very purpose is to protect a vehicle’s occupants from harmful engine gases by redirecting those gases away from the car to the outside air. The exhaust system also helps to ensure a quiet and peaceful experience by minimizing engine exhaust noises while driving. The catalytic converter is an exhaust system component that minimizes the amount of dangerous pollutants found in the engine exhaust.
Other components of the exhaust system include oxygen sensors. These sensors monitor oxygen levels in the exhaust gases for the purpose of ensuring the overall efficiency of the catalytic converter and engine’s operation.
Keeping your exhaust system in good working condition is vital for fuel mileage, the environment and your safety. We will discuss how the exhaust system works, how it usually fails and the best way to repair it or have it repaired.
The exhaust manifold attaches to the cylinder head and takes each cylinder’s exhaust and combines it into one pipe. The manifold can be made of steel, aluminum, stainless steel or more commonly cast iron. All modern fuel injected cars utilize an oxygen sensor to measure how much oxygen is present in the exhaust. From this the computer can add or subtract fuel to obtain the correct mixture of maximum fuel economy. The oxygen sensor is mounted in the exhaust manifold or close to it in the exhaust pipe.
Between all of the parts just mentioned, the exhaust pipe carries the gas through its journey out your tail pipe. Exhaust tubing is usually made out of steel but can be stainless steel (which lasts longer due to its corrosion resistance) or aluminized steel tubing. Aluminized steel has better corrosion resistance than plain steel but not better than stainless steel.
This muffler like part converts harmful carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to water vapor and carbon dioxide. Some converters also reduce harmful nitrogen oxides. The converter is mounted between the exhaust manifold and the muffler. On rare occasions the catalytic converter will become clogged and need to be replaced. Symptoms include loss of power, heat coming from the floor of your car, glowing red converter or a sulfur smell. Removing this component is illegal in most states and can lead to a hefty fine and a major repair bill, catalytic converters can be very expensive to replace.
The muffler serves to quiet the exhaust down to acceptable levels. Most mufflers use baffles to bounce the exhaust around dissipating the energy and quieting the noise. Some mufflers also use fiberglass packing which absorbs the sound energy as the gases flow through it. Most of the time mufflers rust through and need to be replaced. There are a lot of options out there for replacement mufflers. Some cheap and some expensive, it holds true- you get what you pay for. If you plan on keeping your car for any period of time, spend the extra dollars and get an OEM muffler of a high quality name brand muffler.
Your oxygen sensor could be going out on you if you are noticing a decrease in your gas mileage. As time goes on the oxygen sensor begins to wear out and becomes less accurate. This sometimes results in a rich fuel mixture where your engine burns more fuel than is needed. Most of the time your check engine light will come on and alert you to a failing oxygen sensor. I suggest changing the oxygen sensor every 60,000 miles just to be safe. Even though your check engine light might not be on, you could be using more gas than is needed. Pay a few dollars and change the sensor, your wallet will thank you when you have to buy less gas down the road.
Well the worst enemy of your exhaust system is corrosion. Corrosion is caused by moisture reacting with the iron in the steel and forming iron oxide. Moisture or water vapor is present in the exhaust as a by-product of combustion and the catalytic converter. Moisture can also come from the outside in the form of rain. Short trips in your car can shorten the life of your exhaust system. When you shut down your engine whatever water vapor is in the pipes condenses and turns back into a liquid. On a short trip the water never has a chance to get hot enough to turn back into water vapor and it just stays in the system and rusts away the pipes. If you drive for a short distances consider replacing your exhaust system with a stainless steel when the plain steel one rusts through. If you drive more than 15 miles at a time you should not have to worry about this.
That’s about it for the exhaust system, just remember that rust is the biggest enemy to your exhaust system. Take the above mentioned steps and your exhaust system will last a longtime.